Sanskrit and Yoga meaning of “Namaste”

August 5, 2010

in Sanskrit

Sanskrit and Yoga

You’ve probably heard a few Sanskrit words, such as Om, or Namaste at some point or another. When you go to your first yoga class expect to hear several words in this ancient language. We’ll shed some light on many of the basic Sanskrit words you will hear in your yoga class. We’ll begin with Namaste.


Pronunciation: nah-mah-stay

Namaste is a greeting or salutation commonly used in India and Nepal. It is used by young and old alike, from greeting friends to strangers. You may see this spoken greeting accompanied with a gesture of palms pressed together, fingers pointing up at the level of your heart followed with a bow. This gesture, or mudra¬† alone means the same as the spoken Namaste and is often used without the spoken word. Namaste in Sanskrit means “I bow to you” (nama=bow te=you).

Namaste in also considered as a humble greeting straight from your heart and is reciprocated. Spiritual deeper meaning of Namaste is a belief that the life force or the Divinity in me is the same as it is in you, or in all of us.

In Yoga practice when the teacher begins the class with Namaste it is a symbol of gratitude and respect towards the students and teachers of the teacher. The teacher also ends the class with Namaste and the students echo it back. You may hear a few variations of the meaning in association with yoga and meditation.

“I honor the spirit in you which is also in me.”

“The light in me sees the light in you.”

“All that is best and highest in me salutes all that is best and highest in you.”

namaste yoga greeting

“The spirit in me, meets the same spirit in you.”

In yoga, when performing Namaste you press your hands and palms together in front of your chest at your heart Chakra. Eyes are closed with head bowed or straight forward. Alternatively you may keep eyes open and focus on the tips of your middle fingers.

Namaste with placement the hands in the same manner on one’s forehead, thumbs pressing on the third eye, bowing and and then moving the hands to the heart¬† indicates deep form of respect.

Namaste also means thank you. You say Namaste at the end of the yoga class thanking your teacher.

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