The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located at the heart. Namaste is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. Nama means bow, as means I, and te means you. Therefore, namaste literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.” In India, it is understood that namaste means “I give reverence to you”, it is to show one’s humbleness. The palms come together in anjali mudra as seen above by Swami Kripalu (Babaji).
To gesture Namaste to another, place the hands together in “anjali mudra” at the heart, close the eyes, and bow the head. It can also be done by placing the hands together in front of the mind’s eye, bowing the head, and then bringing the hands down to the heart. This is an especially deep form of respect. Although in the West the word “namaste” is usually spoken in conjunction with the gesture, in India, it is understood that the gesture itself signifies Namaste, and therefore, it is unnecessary to say the word while bowing.
We bring the hands together at the heart to increase the flow of Divine love. Bowing the head and closing the eyes helps the mind surrender to the Divine in the heart. One can gesture Namaste to oneself as a meditation technique to go deeper inside the heart chakra; when gestured toward someone else, it is also a beautiful, albeit quick, meditation.
For a teacher and student, Namaste allows two individuals to come together energetically to a place of connection and timelessness.
Ideally, Namaste should be done both at the beginning and at the end of class. Usually, it is done at the end of class when the mind is less active and the energy in the room is more peaceful. The teacher initiates Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect toward her students and her own teachers and in return invites the students to connect with their lineage, thereby allowing the truth to flow—the truth that we are all one when we live from the heart.
This is why at the end of my classes you will hear me say “the light within me honors the light within each of you. Namaste.” Sometimes you will also hear me say “Jai Bhagwan!” which is a whole other blog post 🙂