Why I Bow to You – The Meaning of Namaste

Otter doing Namaste
I feel compelled from time to time to cover some of the basics for those of you who are just starting down the yogic path.

There are so many questions…

What is the purpose of lifting and spreading your toes? Can you really root down through the sitbones when you sit, and what the hell is a ‘sitbone’ anyway?

All good questions, and we have all been there!

I really enjoyed reading the article below about saying ‘Namaste’. I thought for bit of my practice that the teacher was slurring the words “Have a nice day”, to which I would blink awkwardly and slur “Have a nice day” back under my breath (and then think to myself Hmmmmm,…now there is that mysterious slur again, could the teacher be sipping from a secret chardonnay stash while the students were in savasana? …I didn’t know…) Needless to say when the day finally came that I found out what Namaste actually meant, (whew!) I was much relieved!

So read on about this mysterious custom and Namaste Yogis!

Question: Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column – Namaste Etiquette
Dear Aunt Yoga,
My yoga instructor is wonderful and at the end of every session she ends with praying hands, then bows and says namaste. I say it back to her, only because the other students do, but I am always compelled to say thank you afterward. Then I feel awkward because she simply smiles and remains silent. Help! What is the proper etiquette and am I offending her by saying thank you?


Answer: Dear Candy,
The way you describe your teacher ending your session has become fairly standard in western yoga classes. Namaste is translated as “I bow to you,” making it a lovely gesture of equality since the teacher bows first to the students and the students then return the favor. I have also heard namaste interpreted to mean “the teacher in me bows to the teacher in you,” which again acknowledges the humility of the instructor. Although it isn’t necessary to thank the teacher again in English, it is in no way rude. If you feel incomplete without saying thank you, you should continue to say it, as no one could rightly be offended by these words of gratitude.

Namaste (and thank you!),

Aunt Yoga