For a long time, I didn't know what namasté meant. I just went with the flow. It seemed like a respectful gesture toward my teacher at the close of a Yoga class and that was about it. I recall one of my teachers saying something like, "I salute the divine within you." Which sounded nice to me, but wasn't really meaningful at the time.
Fast forward a few years, when I was preparing to teach my first Yoga class. I decided to do some research into this word and gesture that I use in my personal practice, in classes I attend, and that I ask my students to use in my classes.
The gesture used when bowing in namasté is the bringing of both hands together, palms touching, typically at the heart.
This gesture is called a mudra in yoga, a symbolic hand position. One hand represents the higher, spiritual nature, and the other represents our everyday selves- foibles and all. In combining the two, the person is aspiring to meld these two aspects of self, and by bowing to the other person, they are honoring the same in the other, in respect and love.
The first thing that struck me about this is that the definition of Yoga is union, so in a very literal sense, the bringing of the hands together is a physical symbol of our greater intention in practicing yoga: our desire to infuse our life, especially our business, with the natural state of grace and wisdom that we all inherently possess.
The second thing that struck me about this is that when we salute another with namasté, we are meeting on common ground. It is an act of peace toward ourselves and the world around us.
When I practice yoga, even by myself, I bow deeply and say namasté at the end of my practice. I envision that I am bowing to all my teachers, loved ones, and also, the people that challenge me.
Doing this echoes through my life and into my business relationships. I find myself remembering my hands pressed together and my head bowed in respect, internally saying, "namasté" to people I find challenging -- it works to un-glue stuck relationships with difficult clients by softening my own hardened perspective. When I remember to bow my head in namasté before and after I meet with clients or hold a class, it fills the time we spend together with love and respect for my clients as I support them as they extend and reach to express themselves fully in the world.
One of my favorite quotes which I think embodies the meaning of namasté perfectly, is from Mahatma Ghandi.
"I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I salute the Source in you. Let us work together."
Isn't that all any of us wants when we hire someone? To be honored. To have our needs met. To be seen as the brilliant beings we are?
Isn't this the most precious gift you can give to your clients? To salute the divine within them and help them express it?
Namasté to you, business yoginis!
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