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You may overhear the word Namaste spoken in your yogastudio, around your city, or in some countries you visit around the world. Butwhat exactly does it mean, and where does the word come from?
Namaste is a traditional greeting used in India, oftenaccompanied by folding one’s arms across the chest, as in prayer. The word is acombination of two Sanskrit terms: namah(I bow respectfully to you) and aste(let there be). However, the literal translation is not nearly as important asthe spirit of the greeting – a motion that is deferential, cordial and executedwith grace and certain humility. Namaste may also be used in cross-culturalacademic and business settings, although generally the Western handshake hasreplaced this tradition.
In the most common form, Namaste indicates “greetings” or“good day,” with an unspoken connotation of “be well” or “live well.” It is anon-contact form of greeting that can be used respectfully between people ofdifferent gender, age and social status.
Namaste may also have spiritual connotation in someinstances. The use of Namaste may indicate belief between one or both partiesin the “divine spark” that exists in all life – essentially one spiritrecognizing another. Many that believe this divine spark rests in the heartchakra, the spiritual center of human compassion.
Namaste is most often heard in the Western world at the endof yoga practice, where it is interpreted as “the divine in me honors thedivine in you.” This usage represents the spiritual nature of some yoga practiceas well as the respectful bond that exists between student and teacher.