Namaste is a sanskrit word which literally means ” I bow to you”. It is broken down as follows: “Namas” meaning bow, “as” meaning I, and “te” meaning you. In India, traditionally, a non contact greeting and salutation are preferred.
The word namaste is used along with the gesture of namaste yoga, in which you place the hands together, palms and fingertips touching, pointing upwards, at the heart chakra and bowing the head with the eyes closed. In the west, the word is spoken along with the gesture, but in the east, in India, the gesture alone signifies “Namaste” and there is no need to say the word whilst performing the gesture.
It can also be performed with the hands clasped at theThird Eye and as the head bows and eyes closed, the hands move down to the Heart chakra. This is considered a much deeper gesture of respect.
The reason for putting the hands together at the Heart chakra is to increase the flow of Divine love. Bowing the head with the eyes closed allows the mind to completely surrender to that Divine love within the heart. Namaste is representative of the belief that there is God, or the Divine, within every one of us. Performing the gesture of Namaste is to recognise the divinity and soul in the other person.
In namaste yoga, namaste is usually performed at the beginning and end of a session, although more often these days it is performed at the end when everyone is relaxed and the mind is calm, empty and receptive. The teacher will perform Namaste at the end of the class as a sign of respect and gratitude to both his or her students and his or her respective teachers and the gesture is returned by grateful and respectful students.
Namaste can be performed as a short meditation for oneself to center and feel love. Essentially though, Namaste is a mutual union of souls in which you come together in a timeless, beautiful place, unburdened by the constraints of the mind, ego and individual reality.