Early last year, my partner Darren showed me a u-tube video, a spoof on how to ‘be spiritual’. A goofy looking hippie-guy with long blond hair, a purple headband, lots of incense and candles burning in the background, doing yoga postures and mis-pronouncing ‘namaste’ as in: ni-misty; nam-asstay; near-miss-tree; naaaaa-musty…
It was funny and slightly uncomfortable watching this. For years I’ve felt like a phoney using this word to close off my yoga classes – after all, I grew up about as far away from the exotic eastern land of India as you could do – northern Canada. Saying a word I didn’t understand, or had a vague concept of the meaning of, to signify the close of a yoga class had been modelled for me by many teachers in classes I’d attended, but when I said it… hmmmm, there was that feeling of putting on something not true for me.
Then, mid-year last year a new student in my yoga class told me her young daughter had come home from school where she’d just gone to a kid’s yoga class and learned this really cool new word: namaste. How a little word meant so many things.
My 87-year old friend Vida had the above little slip of paper sitting on her desk when I went to visit her that week, and I took a photo of it. So two weeks in a row I was reminded of the way the Sanskrit language packages up a whole bunch of meaning in a small word.
The word ‘yoga’ is another Sanskrit word, which literally means ‘to yoke’, broader meaning being an acknowledgement that in fact we are all one… one in ourselves in our capacities of body, mind, & heart; and one with all other beings; one with life. It’s a profound concept, sometimes hard to grasp, but at the end of a yoga practice when the breath and body have worked together, when the thrum of life energy draws my mind into a place of stillness, when I feel the class settle quietly together in the final relaxation pose, I feel blessed to explore this concept so viscerally. In that context, it feels entirely appropriate to say namaste to end the class: I honour the light, love, beauty, truth and kindness within each of the people present. Distance closes. We are all the same.
Yoga. It is a delicious state of being where we find what we seek. Namaste everyone!