My parents had my brother and I traveling from the time we were newborns to places all over the world. From that experience I learned that everyone is fundamentally alike. Regardless of geography, people all want the same things: we want to be happy, loved and peaceful.
As a result, even before I knew yoga, I was trying my best to "live my namaste".
Now, as then, this requires recognizing that all people deserve respect. In effect, if we are living our namaste, it means we are unlocking the love and respect in our hearts to include everyone. Isn’t the whole point of yoga to see not that which divides us but that which brings us together?
So what does namaste mean? Well, "nama" means bow, "as" means I, and "te" means you. Therefore, namaste literally means "bow me you" or "I bow to you." It is a gesture of pure compassion and recognition: that we bow to the true self inside each one of us. To me namaste is harmony, remembrance and respect.
Namaste as a harmony: It strikes the perfect chord. Having grown up in a musical family and having played piano and clarinet for 13 years I have always felt music was a blessing of realizing harmony.
Yoga, like being in a chorus or a band or any sort of tribe, helps us to work together as a beautiful symphony. We feel this symphony of the body when we practice poses (asanas). And just like playing a musical instrument the more yoga you practice the more efficient you get. Over time you feel the harmonies. No single player more important—everyone is of equal value. This is a nondualistic view of life where we acknowledge that everyone is valuable in their own way and we all contribute to make wonderful music.
Namaste as remembrance: Wolfgang Von Goethe writes, “Remembrance of what is good keeps us high in spirit. Remembrance of what is beautiful is the salvation of the mortal man. Remembrance of what is dear will be happiness, if it remains alive.” In class, or even by yourself, when you unite your hands palms touching think to yourself Namaste and it helps us remember to remember how amazing life is!
Namaste as respect: It is a respect for our breath, for the preciousness of life itself. When we share this with another we are demonstrating that we are one, engaged with this breath despite our diversity. A great example of this definition is found on Wikipedia.
We can perceive the unique thread that connects us all with the universe, and all its beings along with the source of that interconnection. Accepting oneness, we are accordingly receptive to knowledge that comes to us in the form of examples, advice, and direct teaching. One may awake to the wisdom that opens our eyes to new worlds of possibilities.
When we assume everyone we meet is special and unique in its essence we should always show to all people the same generous level of kindness, care, compassion, and understanding without any thoughts of self-interest or ulterior motives above paying respects wholeheartedly, the way we live our daily lives has an enormous impact on those around us.
Instead of clinging to what separates us, practicing namaste enables us to feel less alone in the world. We begin to understand that we must treat all people for what they are, family. We are one with the cosmos whether we realize it or not. Practicing oneness we gain consciousness of the more subtle aspects of our being, with the ultimate outcome being a complete identification with the light body."
In order to live our namaste we must come together to namaste everyone. It is not just something we say before or after yoga class, it is a way of living life with a deep intention of respect, remembrance and appreciation that promotes harmony in the whole of the world. Love yourself, love your day, love and namaste your life!
The most common definition of namaste:
I see and celebrate the love that you are; the light in me recognizes the light in you; I honor the light and love within you; I greet that place where you and I are one; I see and honor in you the place where the universe resides; when you are at that place in you, and I am at that place in me, we are one.