‹ Back to Blog

Yoga 101: Namaste

As yoga is gaining popularity, so is the salutation namaste—pronounced nuh-MUH-steh, commonly mispronounced, NAH-mah-stay or nah-mah-STAY. In yoga classes, it’s often said in call and response format at the end of each studio session and sometimes at the beginning.

Have you been in a class where the teacher opened or ended with namaste? Were you left wondering why they were doing that? Have you wondered about its connection with yoga?

The Meaning of Namaste

Namaste is derived from the Sanskrit word namaskar, which translates to “I bow to you.” When a teacher and student exchange the phrase and accompanying gesture (mudra), they are invoking deep respect for each other. 


When one says namaste to another, they bend slightly forward with their hands pressed together, placed at the heart center. This hand position is known as Namaskar—or Anjali—Mudra.

When you press your palms together in a Namaskar Mudra, the sunya— or ether element—in your body is strengthened. You experience oneness with the self, releasing ego, desires, and attachments. This new “hollowness” makes room for better absorption of the divine energy by our bodies.

Using Namaste

As you greet someone using namaste, your body connects with the second element, the earth element—the principle of stability. You feel rooted, emotionally grounded, confident, and even flexible. 

As the two elements of the ether and earth are manifested in your body, you also become connected with the other three elements—water, air, and fire. This encourages more positive energy and aura flow, leading you to feel more centered and more present at the moment.

Transferring Energy

In most Western yoga classes, a teacher says namaste both at the beginning and the end of the yoga class. In the beginning, the teacher initiates the gesture to show gratitude towards their students. In return,
the students are expected to connect and allow the flow of divine love and gratitude toward each other.

At the end of the class, it is said to convey gratitude toward the students and seal the practice of yoga and the energy of the class.  When you bow during namaste, you are bowing down to the spiritual energy within a person, rather than his physical aura, as opposed to say shaking hands. When you do physical contact, a negative aura from other people can flow toward you. Not so with namaste and the namaskar mudra.

So next time your yoga teacher greets you with namaste, you will understand a bit more about the reverence behind this sacred word.

Posted in: