According to Iyengar Yoga teacher Aadil Palkhivala, “‘Nama’ means bow, ‘as’ means I, and ‘te’ means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means ‘bow me you’ or ‘I bow to you.’”

But not all yogis say Namaste. The Kundalini yogis actually say “sat nam,” which looks a lot like Namaste but flipped inside-out and back to front. One of my NYC friends, legendary Kundalini teacher Hari Kaur, enlightened me by sharing that Sat Nam is also used as a greeting that has loads of esoteric meanings but it roughly implies marrying truth, identity and universal consciousness.

My own mentor, Glenn Black, doesn’t mess around with any complicated salutations; he simply says, “Well done.”

Namaste closure

One of the things I love about the word Namaste is that it gives closure to a class. As a teacher who tends to ramble, and has a difficult time with closing statements, choosing instead to add another clause, and then another, and then re-massaging a point, it comes as a huge relief for me to be able to say those three syllables and know that I am finished, and it must be a relief for some of my loyal students to know that I won’t be adding any further context.

Nothing needs to be said afterwards; students quietly roll up their yoga mats, grab their water bottles and wander into their day. One of my dear colleagues in Santa Monica, Julian Walker, likes to say that Namaste means “No More Stay.”

A corny Namaste poem:

Are you okay with Namaste?

Are other thoughts jumping in the way?

It’s a greeting to one and a prayer to another.

But are you willing to bow down to your brother?

Well, I’m okay with Namaste.

But don’t let me have the last say,

Post your thoughts on this today!

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[Reprinted with permission from Gaiam Life.]

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