Namaste 101

written by Anjula July 17, 2007


Morning Yoga

Growing up in an East Indian household, I took much of the beauty and the traditions of the Hindu culture for granted. From simple things like my mom’s freshly made naan, to the rich and colorful saris that she wore, to the classic literature of Rabindranath Tagore she enjoyed reading to me as she sipped on her steaming cup of chai — I never fully appreciated all that this rich country had to offer. From practical traditions like using honey instead of constantly seeking out over-the-counter cough relievers to practicing yoga regularly, I didn’t recognize the benefits until I moved away from it all.

Did you know, according to Ayurvedic medicine, honey can be used to improve eyesight, relieve coughs, sore throats, when combined with black pepper powder and ginger juice, it acts to relieve asthma, mixed with garlic – it has been known to reduce high blood pressure, taken with water and lemon juice, it helps to purify the blood and my favorite, mixed with anise powder – it strengthens the heart muscles and improves its functions. Having now had both the time and the distance to separate myself from the beliefs of my family, I have only recently looked to ground myself through certain life enhancing practices I once so greatly protested – i.e. doing yoga in the morning, learning more about India’s rich history, exploring the vast wonders of Ayurvedic medicine.

Along the way back to my roots, I recently attended a yoga class and was delighted to hear the well-versed instructor greet us with “Namaste.” Sure, many of us have heard the ancient Sanskrit greeting, but what is the true sacred meaning in Sanskrit? For a true translation, we googled it, consulted family and talked with friends and there relatives. The winning definition we came away with — “the divine in me honors the divine in you.” Not too shabby, right? While doing Namaste, we were lovingly instructed to place both of our palms together and raise them below our face to greet a person. It is believed that both hands together symbolize one mind, or the self meeting the self. While the right hand represents higher nature, the left hand denotes worldly or lower nature. As we worked on our breathing, our instructor continued to lead us through the various poses or as they say in Sanskrit, the asanas, while also reciting some simple Sanskrit chants…leaving me with a sense of well-being of I have not experienced in quite some time.

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