What does Namaste mean? If you’ve been anywhere near the yoga community, you would have heard this word quite a lot. But what does it actually mean, and why do people say it?

Namaste directly translated means ‘the divine in me bows to the divine in you’, but more generally it is used as a respectful way of greeting someone else. The first part of Namaste, ‘Nama’, means ‘bow’, which is why when said it is often accompanied with a bow. The full gesture stems from the believe that each individual possess a ‘divine spark’, located in the heart chakra.

Why do we bow when we say Namaste?

‘Namaste’ is all about respect and positive energy, which is why we bow and also place our hands together by the heart chakra. Bring your hands together at the heart chakra to signal the flow of Divine love. By bowing your head and closing your eyes, you are momentarily surrendering to the heart.

When should I use Namaste?

Although Namaste is often used as a greeting, it can be used both at the start and end of a yoga class. Normally Namaste is initiated by the teacher, as their way of saying thank you for the student’s attention, respect and efforts during the class. The teacher will then invite the students to return the gesture.

This symbol of respect is particularly important in a teaching environment as it signifies the coming together of the teacher and the student, and encourages a deep unison based on mutual respect and appreciation.

How to use Namaste 

Because the Namaste gesture and saying has such cultural importance in India, and additionally has very strong links to spirituality, it is important to respect both the history and contemporary value of Namaste before appropriating. Only use Namaste if you mean it in a positive, sincere way and mean to honour the individual that you are greeting.