Yogini Shyama with her hands and heart in Namaste.
In Yoga we often greet one another with a special hand gesture known as Anjali Mudra, accompanied by the beautiful Sanskrit word Namaste.
It is a common greeting in India, the birthplace of yoga, and among yogis worldwide. It is a humble yet noble and peaceful gesture which acknowledges our seeing one another, and our joy at that meeting.
Most commonly in the west, Namaste is translated as, "The Divine in me sees the Divine in you." or "The Light in me sees the Light in you".
But I like to think of it more simply as, "I see me in you and you in me."
For me, this translation emphasizes the mirror-like reflection of the Self in each being we encounter and emphasizes our divinity, unity and similarities over our differences.
In other words, it reminds me that regardless of appearances and circumstances, we have more in common than not. We are part of the same whole, and we share the same goals of happiness and freedom.
Alberta Singer/Songwriter/Yogi Brian McLeod
My favorite translation of this greeting came from an old Ayurvedic doctor I met at the Sivananda Ashram in Grass Valley, California.
He told me that in Namaste, we bring the strength in the right side of the body (ha/pingala nadi/masculine/wisdom/active energy) together with the love that comes from the heart (left/tha/ida nadi/feminine/compassion/passive energy) in service to our fellow beings.
Later I found this definition by Mahatma Gandhi which unfortunately, I've long since lost the source of, but share with reverence to this day because it captures the deeper meaning of the greeting so beautifully in such a simple and heart-felt way.
I offer you peace.
I offer you love.
I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty.
I hear your need.
I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from the highest source.
I salute that source in you.
Let us work together in unity and love.
If you would like to read more about the origin and importance of Namaste, click here for a wonderful article titled, Namaste - The Significance of a Yogic Greeting, on the Exotic India homepage.
Thank you to all of the enthusiastic yoga teachers in training at Yoga for Today! It was lovely to share this with you on Saturday as we closed our session on the chakras, the subtle body and the psychology of yoga.
I look forward to seeing you again in November when we study the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita!
I trust that our reunion will be enriched by our understanding, and our greetings all the sweeter because of it!