At the beginning or end of yoga class, you may hear the word "Namaste." This word has even crept into our everyday lingo. But what exactly does it mean? Is it just a 'hello'?
Hinduism believes that every living being, from the smallest of creatures, to humans, is a spark of Divinity. Each being, essentially, is a spiritual soul, non-different from oneself. By acknowledging that essential spirit, we acknowledge that Divinity in each one. "Namaste/Namaskar/Namaskaram," as used in the various languages in India, honors this Divine: "The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you."
Yoga, with its roots in Hinduism, honors that Divinity within each student.
Namaste is both a spoken greeting and gesture. Palms touch in what is known as Anjali (prayerful) mudra (hand gesture). Bring hands to forehead, then down to heart.
Namaste is used as a greeting, not only in India, but amongst the Hindu diaspora. It is also used in countries where Hinduism had a influence its history. Countries such as Thailand, Indonesia (Bali), Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, etc., often use the gesture, though the wording may be different.
Those familiar with the use of Namaste may find it confusing when it is used as an ending in many yoga classes, as it is usually said when meeting someone.
However, when said with reverence and acceptance, a deeper understanding of oneself, others and our place in this vast cosmos, develops.