not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Word Wednesday...on Thursday!

Due to double classes at the gym, a surf session, dinner, then practicing music with Christian - I didn't have a moment to write my Word Wednesday blog yesterday!!! I could have easily banged one out, but the blog wouldn't have gotten the time and love it deserved! So here we are on Thursday, and I bringing you Wednesday's Word of the Day: Namasté.

We say "namasté" at the end of every Yoga class. I knew that it was a word of respect, but I wasn't sure of it's exact definition. Namasté, in Sanskirt: नमस्ते, is a salutation used in India and Nepal, expressing deep respect. It is mainly used by Hindu's, Buddhists, and Jain's. Other, slightly more informal versions of namasté are namaskar and namaskaram. It directly translate's to "I bow to you", which makes sense because the word is derived from two words in Sanskrit, namas and te. (Sanskrit is the classical language of India, one of the sacred languages of Hinduism and Buddhism) "Namas" means to bow, a gesture to show respect, and "te" means to you. Understand that namasté is not just a word used for greeting, it's also the gesture. Often people will make a silent gesture, without saying the word. In Indian culture it is common that namasté is said upon entrance, and the silent gesture upon departure. Spoken or unspoken, it carries the same meaning....Submitting oneself to another, with complete humility.

To perform Namaste:
Place the hands together at the heart charka, close the eyes, and bow the head. Hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chest. To indicate a deeper respect, one can hold hands above the forehead, or in prayer, above the head.

How namasté came to be....

"In a well-known episode it so transpired that the great lover god Krishna made away with the clothes of unmarried maidens, fourteen to seventeen years of age, bathing in the river Yamuna. Their fervent entreaties to him proved of no avail. It was only after they performed before him the eternal gesture of namaste was he satisfied, and agreed to hand back their garments so that they could recover their modesty." {info from:}

Namaste is deeply rich in symbolism. Firstly the proper performance of namaste requires that we blend the five fingers of the left hand exactly with the fingers of the right hand. The significance behind this simple act in fact governs the entire gamut of our active life. The five fingers of the left hand represent the five senses of karma, and those of the right hand the five organs of knowledge. Hence it signifies that our karma or action must be in harmony, and governed by rightful knowledge, prompting us to think and act correctly. By combining the five fingers of each hand, a total of ten is achieved. The number ten is a symbol of perfection, and the mystical number of completion and unity. It is true for all ancient traditions.

Namaste is used in all aspects of Indian life, though in the States it is mostly heard (AND seen, as it is a gesture as well) in Yoga. In Yoga, namaste is meant to mean "The light in me honors the light in you", "I respect that divinity within you that is also within me".

Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one's being, from bodily health to self-realization. Yoga means union - the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one's actions. ~B.K.S. Iyengar, Astadala Yogamala


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