We’ve all been there. It’s the end of class. We bring our thumbs to our third eye. We bow our heads. And together with the instructor, we say “Namaste.” But what exactly are we saying?
The literal translation of namaste is: I bow to you. The more “yogic” translation is: the divine in me bows to the divine in you. Or dare I say, it means something along those lines as there’s a bit of room for interpretation there. I’ve been in yoga classes that finish with a simple bowing of the head and “Namaste” said in unison. And I’ve been in yoga classes where the instructor waxes a bit more poetic; something like “the light in me honors and appreciates the light in each and every one of you” (or something equally lyrical) usually rolls beautifully off the tongue of one of my favorites Courtney Sturm (find her at Y7) before we bow our heads and together say Namaste.
So what are we saying and why? For me, yoga is a very solitary thing. I do enjoy flowing alone. And I also enjoy flowing with my community. But even when I flow within my community, other than the connection of the rhythmic breathing in the room that links us, I would be a horrible eye witness should anything of consequence go down in the room and a detective need a description of the scene. I generally have no clue what the person next to me is wearing or doing, what color mats are in the room, what anyone else’s asana looks like. But still, despite my inward focus, the divine in me is absolutely honoring the divine in everyone else in (and out of) that room; because in focusing on pushing my limits to become my best self, exploring my edge, being willing to sit in my own discomfort and working to find my own balance on and off my mat, I am making space and creating opportunity for all those around me to the do the same.
To me, Namaste means that in being too busy watering my own grass to notice if anyone else’s is greener, I am honoring the greenness of everyone else’s grass. It reminds me that there is divinity in all of us, and it is not pooled from some finite source of divinity, beauty or talent that would put us in competition for a piece of the same pie. Namaste is a reminder of abundance.
The abundance of divinity and beauty in me recognizes and honors the abundance of divinity and beauty in you… AF.