I recently decided to retire saying “namaste.” Motivated by a conversation about cultural appropriation and a sense of ridiculousness that can only really be summed up by this Princess Bride meme (see above).
Students have noticed the absence. It’s been awkward at times. I imagine that every teacher in every yoga class they’ve ever taken has finished the class palm to palm, repeating namaste.
What do I say instead? Thank you.
It’s clear. It’s what I meant when I said namaste, anyways.
Thank you for creating time in your day for practice. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being you.
NPR recently posted an article by Deepak Singh called “What’s In A Namaste? Depends If You Live In India Or The U.S.” that sheds some light on how the word is used in India and how it has been reinvented in North America.
If you take a yoga class in the U.S., the teacher will most likely say “namaste” at the end of the practice. It’s a Sanskrit phrase that means “I bow to you.” You place hands together at the heart, close your eyes and bow.
That’s not the namaste I know.
My parents taught us to say “namaste” as kids growing up in India. They told my younger sister, my brother and me that it was good manners to say namaste to the elders. It was the equivalent of hello, but with an element of respect. If we didn’t say namaste, they wouldn’t consider us to be good kids.