Monday, January 20, 2014

Sanskrit Word of the Day: NAMASTE

NAMASTE written in Sanskrit

After our physical yoga practice, we relax on our backs, legs splayed apart, hands by our sides, palms face up as if ready to receive an offering.  Fingers retain their natural curl. We are in the most important pose of our practice, Savasana or Corpse Pose, where the breath and heart rate return to normal and our body and systems (digestive, immune, nervous, etc.) absorb the information from the stimulation of the poses we have just performed. After about ten minutes, we are instructed to begin moving fingers and toes and then told to turn and lie on our right side before returning to our comfortable seated position.  Eyes remain closed.  We bring our hands to heart center, anjali mudra, prayer positon.  Before sending us back into the world, my teacher prays:

May I take my yoga today with me in my heart, 
keeping it open to all situations I encounter.
May I take my yoga today with me in my mouth, 
speaking only my truth.
May I take my yoga today with me in my eyes, 
viewing all beings, 
 including myself, 
 with eyes that are filled with compassion.*

When she finishes speaking these lovely words, she honors the class by saying, "Namaste".  
"Namaste," we echo back bowing.

In Sanskrit, NAMA means "bow",  AS means "I", and TE means "you".  Therefore, NAMASTE literally translates to "I bow to you." However, it is more commonly translated as “The divine light in me honors the divine light in you."

In the West, we typically only speak the word, NAMASTE before and/or after a yoga practice.  Initiated by the teacher, NAMASTE is a symbol of gratitude and respect toward her students and her own teachers and in return invites the students to connect with their lineage.

For more information regarding the use of the word NAMASTE, check out this article in Yoga Journal or this article from the Chopra Center website.

NAMASTE as defined by Urban Dictionary:
an ancient Sanskrit greeting still in everyday use in India and especially on the trail in the Nepal Himalaya. Translated roughly, it means "I bow to the God within you", or "The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you" - a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness.
 NAMASTE as defined by
a conventional Hindu expression on meeting or parting, used by the speaker usually while holding the palms together vertically in front of the bosom.
*My teacher, Talei, credits Vietnamese, Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh for the beautiful, inspiring prayer she delivers at the end of her classes with slight modifications made by her.

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