"My new favourite word is 'namaste' which is Indian for 'the Yoga is finished now'"
Sara Pascoe, Jun 2014
We hear namaste at the end of class and it does, in some way, signify that our time together in class has almost come to an end.
Derived from Sanskrit, it is used across India, Nepal and other parts of Asia in varying ways, ostensibly a respectful greeting but its meaning is a little different in the context of Yoga.
Namaste is a salutation first and foremost (very close to the 'Namaskar' of our Surya Namaskar/Sun Salutation) but has more resonance than a cheery hello. Accompanied with a slight bow, hands lightly in the Anjali mudra, reinforcing the potency of benediction/reverance; namaste is deeply respectful. Namaste recognises the individual, acknowledging all that they are and we are, in one word. It can be translated as "I bow to you" or as "the light(divine) in me bows to the light(divine) in you".
It may feel a little fatuous to utter an ancient sacred word at the end of some moving when you first take up the baton of Yoga, but by speaking this word at the end of your time in class, you acknowledge the class, the lineage, your teacher and your fellow practitioners. As a student there are often times when I get to the end of class and I want to honour my teachers teachings, the hundreds of hours of experience on the mat they have and the love that they have crafted a sequence with. Similarly, when I teach, I feel like the end of class is the perfect time to honour the sweat and diligence of the students who have stuck with me through the rough and through the smooth.
It's the closing of the loop. It can be said with relief, with joy or with exasperation. But I think it should be said with some deference. Some acknowledgement to yourself and the other people in the room, everything around and before you.
Like many things to do with our lives and as such our practice of Yoga, the word is incomplete without the feeling.
And FYI Sara, the Yoga is never finished.