Friday, February 23, 2007


I recently learned that Namaste should not be said at the end of a yoga class -- that it is actually an informal greeting and has no place there.

Apparently it's the informal version of "Namaskar."

I was told that true yogis* do not say it after class.

So I've stopped saying it in my classes.

Nonetheless the students have been saying it anyway.

I told my editor this over iddly and dosas today at Mysore Woodland restaurant.

She had also been under the impression that Namaste meant something like "the divinity within me recognizes the divinity within you."

She has been saying it since she started teaching yoga in the 1970's.

She called over the waiter.

"What does 'namaste' mean?" she asked.

"Hello," he said.

"Does it have any other meaning?" she pressed.

"Welcome," he said. As in, welcome to my home.

"Would you ever say it instead of 'goodbye,'" she continued.

"No," he said firmly. "For that we say 'blablabla.'"

My head is still reeling from this.


*"Yogi" and "yoga teacher" are not synonymous, although one can be both. A yogi is actively seeking union with God and follows the yamas and niyamas, which outline how yogis should conduct themselves. Dharma Mittra, who is both a yogi and a great teacher, says "Without yama there is no yoga." The yamas are the first of the eight limbs of yoga, and the first yama is ahimsa, or non-harming / non-violence. This applies to animals as well as to people (ie; a yogi does not eat meat, fish or fowl).

1 comment:

  1. well said.
    there are very few yogis. that word gets tossed around as much as namaste.