Every student and teacher of Yoga will have an opinion as to whether or not it is appropriate to use Namaste and/or other Sanskrit in class. Some teachers do use Namaste and other Sanskrit terminology in their classes as they view it as a sign of respect to the lineage of the practice, they believe it helps to inform and educate their students and keeps their classes inclusive and accessible. It's important to offer the English translation and ask students to reach out with any questions at the end of practice. Some teachers have openly stated that they will no longer be using Namaste in their classes or any Sanskrit for that matter as it doesn’t resonate with them or with what they are offering on the mat. It's important to be open to and to listen.
Your Yoga Flow Alumni Shyama Priya shares:
I can only speak from my own experience as an individual. My dad was from Bihar, India, and yoga was his cultural practice. My dad passed away when I was very little so I don't remember him and have no contact with his family to be able to learn yoga directly from them. I am now learning yoga as anyone from any culture with a bit of the upbringing in Hinduism. I believe it’s about having an open heart and an open mind to understand the teachings. For some, yoga is a spiritual practice and for others it maybe something else. I think it’s important as teachers and students to be aware, learn the history, and hear people's stories. This way we are not delivering a shell and leaving the essence out. In Hinduism we are taught we are not this body. It is a temporary vessel for our soul, that we get to have physical experiences in.
I went to a Bikram hot yoga class many years ago and the instructor welcomed us by saying welcome to 90 mins of hell. I'm not surprised by her statement because of who founded Bikrams. And where was he from? Cultural appropriation or stripping the essence of a practice can be done by anyone, of any race. When someone says "namaste bitches" that sounds like a merchandising move to appeal to a certain style of people. I can't judge it as bad or good. People do yoga listening to hip-hop dance music. I actually enjoy some of those yoga classes myself. I enjoy the zen and I enjoy edgy. I think the main understanding is to know where yoga comes from, to know the history of the origins and also how it can be made respectfully into a contemporary practice. It's also about having sensitivity, humility and being non-judgemental to those on their journey. Something sacred can be shared in many ways and may have to be delivered in many ways for it to be received and or heard. I did yoga with my mom as a little one. She is a mix of cultures and looks very fair skinned. She understands Sanskrit and she will be helping me with that portion of the teacher training. She understands it because she invested the time, respect and energy into it. When I went to India and even here, Namaste has always been a greeting or a departing term. Honouring the spirit within each of us. Nam means bowing down, and aste means your being or your spirit.
Your Yoga Flow Alumni Emma Day writes:
Namaste is a symbol of gratitude and respect, a way of giving thanks and connecting to the divine. I would personally say it's appropriate to use at the end of class, as well as a greeting.
Your Yoga Flow Teacher and Faculty member Angela offers the following insight:
I appreciate the encouragement to think critically about why we say Namaste at the end of class. The way I have always thought about it is: Namaste acknowledges the light in those I am sharing space with; it is an acknowledgment of one another's light and presence. To me, saying Namaste feels like a deeply spiritual experience.
Having lived in India and used this word as a greeting, it feels appropriate to me at the end of a class because it is as though I am saying "hello" to new versions of the people in the room; each one of us having been renewed and transformed by our practice. It is as though the end of every yoga class is a new beginning. I say, Namaste as if to say, "Let us begin again in each moment. Hello."
Your Yoga Flow Alumni Katie Bowdring states:
"the light in me greets the light in you"
Aloha, hello and goodbye...
It's about intention, not everything is black and white.
Below are the links to some further reading on this topic, suggested by our lovely community on this page:
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