Picture this scenario ‘You have just completed your yoga teacher training course and leading your first group of yoga practitioners.
You earnestly commit to putting your best step forward and open the class with a “Namaste “, which has mixed facial reactions. You find it awkward and sense your class feels the same, but still, you go by the book and end the class with a ‘Namaste”, & an uncomfortable silence follows. This is an ongoing debate and has been misconstrued many times.
Here are a few reasons why.
You don’t have to begin and end your class with a “Namaste” if you can’t connect with the phrase or don’t completely understand the essence of what it means.
You can still lead your class and choose to begin and end the practice with a ritual of your choice and one you most truthfully resonate with.
Just like your body may not be ready to transition into a challenging asana, your mind might not be ready to say “Namaste”. Incorporating gratitude or intention setting are choices you can make as a teacher to lead and conclude your class.
Choose what works best for you and gauge the connection with your students.
An Introduction To “NAMASTE”
Originally an ancient Sanskrit word with Hindu roots, the salutation “Namaste” dates back to the Vedic period. Pronounced ‘Nuh – Mah –Stey’, it is used frequently as a respectful gesture extended to the elderly & honourable individuals in a few states across North India.
It is even commonly used as an informal way of greeting each other in everyday life. The rest of India does not say ‘Namaste’.
In the other states across India, you may hear variations like ‘Namaskar’, ‘Namaskara’ or ‘Namaskaram’ etc.; yet the word carries its essence and intention when conveyed and expressed. Namaste means “I bow to you”.
Commonly this is translated as “the divine light in me honours the dive light in you”.Namaste, therefore, is a recognition that we are all equal and share a common, sacred divinity.
A profound reminder of the individual is an expression of divinity or through which the divinity is expressed.
The Namaste Gesture
Namaste comprises three parts – the spoken word + the gesture, + the intention behind the action.
This gesture is usually expressed by placing the palms together in ‘Anjali Mudra’; (lightly pressed in prayer) in front of your heart and bowing your head down slightly. The hands are released after the greeting is completed.
The thumb touches the heart centre, which is symbolic of the self, and the index fingers point to the greater self.
Finally, the little finger is representative and acknowledges all the living beings in front of us.
The right & left hands meeting at the heart centre bears testimony to the fact that we are all made of opposites in life, and we continue to live peacefully notwithstanding these opposites.
This also increases the flow of the divine love Using the Anjali Mudra helps internalise the meaning and energy behind the word.
It is widely quoted that the world's fabled yoga teacher BKS Iyengar would simply close his classes with “that’s enough for today”.
So the next time you think a Namaste is mandatory since everyone does it or because you were taught that way, be reassured you certainly don’t have to do it.
Last, don’t let “Namaste” be a mechanical “hello” or a pun. Choose prudently!