With help from an expert in the field of yoga, Aadhil Palkhivala, founder-director of the Alive and Shine Center in Bellevue, Washington, and the College of Purma Yoga, I will explain:
The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the Heart Chakra. The gesture acknowledges the soul in one by the soul in another. “Nama” means bow, “as” means I, and “te” means you. Namaste means “I bow to you”.
To perform the Namaste gesture, called Anjali Mudra in Sanskrit, we bring the hands together at the heart, fingers pointing upward, close the eyes and bow the head. It can also be done by placing the hands together in front of the third eye, bowing the head, then bringing the hands to the heart. This is an especially deep form of respect. We in the West usually say the word ”Namaste” as we perform the gesture. In India, it is understood that the gesture itself means Namaste, therefore, it is unnecessary to say the word while bowing.
We bring the hands together at the heart to increase the flow of Divine love. Bowing the head and closing the eyes helps the mind surrender to the Divine in the heart.
Ideally, Namaste should be done both at the beginning and the end of class. Usually, it is done at the end of class when the mind is less active and the energy is more peaceful. The teacher initiates Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect toward her students and her own teachers. The students are invited to connect with their lineage and allow truth to flow- the truth that we are all one when we live from the heart.