For many years, I attended a yoga class where the teacher would close our practice by joining her hands together and saying, “Namasté”. We all sat quietly and then class was done. I eventually discovered that I was not alone; I don't think any of us in that class knew what Namasté meant, no one knew to return the greeting, and the instructor never told us. She was a very good instructor, don't get me wrong; she just assumed that many of us were smarter than we actually were.
Today, in the Wikipedia world, one can find the meaning of most anything quite quickly. But those were slower times and so we wondered.
By the way, I define “Namasté” as “The divine within me bows to the divine within you.”
It's sort of like a sacred “Aloha” greeting -- it can mean hello or goodbye.
But, it's much more than that, since it looks much deeper and with great respect to the person being addressed. In this greeting we see beyond the physical, we bow to the purest essence of the person before us. That's the light that resides at one's heart. I sometimes like to say that Namasté means, "I can see past your bad hair day and all the stresses and strains you endure, to see and honor the true, beautiful and vibrant you inside."
So, my first suggestion today is for yoga instructors to not assume that their students know what they’re talking about. Sanskrit is a beautiful sacred language. But, a bit of translation can help those sacred words blossom more fully in a student’s heart.
And, now ... to practice what I preach. I’ve been closing recent classes with a loving yoga blessing. I offer the translation in class as well. But, in the off-chance that someone actually wanders through this blog (aside from my journeys through looking for typos), I offer it here. It’s a beautiful blessing and it inspires my practice.
Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu
There are many translations from the very simple “May all be happy” to very long and detailed translations. But, here’s the one that I like best:
“May the universe be filled with peace and joy, love and light.”
And, just to muddy the waters further (which I’ll leave as a challenge for true Sanskrit scholars, not a novice like me), many, many sacred Sanskrit words don’t translate easily. They are deeply felt but don’t easily translate to words. There are many Sanskrit blessings and prayers that are offered with myriad translations that are all over the map. Sometimes, a Sanskrit scholar will admit a word or blessing defies true translation at all. And, that is why a Sanskrit blessing may do better when pulled out of your brain and instead planted in the loving garden of your heart.
Another beautiful Yoga blessing comes from the sacred Bhagavad Gita. I call this blessing "Be Fearless & Pure" ... and you can find it here: Be Fearless & Pure
I like to share other blessings in my Yoga classes from time to time, and when I think about it, I add them to this blog. To find them all in one place, just click on my Meditations & Blessings link: Yoga Meditations & Blessings
Or, even better, LIKE Peaceful Hands on Facebook, where I regularly post Yoga blessings and other information on the healing benefits of Yoga. Here's the link: Peaceful Hands on Facebook
2015 Update: I'm delighted to invite you to visit my new website: www.peacefulhands.com You'll find these blessings, Yoga inspirations, and more ... Thank you for visiting!