“Namaste” Means “Hello”
I really and truly must give 99% of this post’s credit to my friend Laura who lives in Oregon (who, in turn, gives credit to an article she read in an NPR article. It’s all appropriately meta, riiiiight? Laura knows a lot about a lot—but especially about The Yoga. A couple of visits ago we were standing in her kitchen snacking on oranges (she was, incidentally, saving the rinds for a sort of “Urban Homesteader” project that at first glance might seem straight outta Portlandia casting…but I beg of you, don’t judge her on this factoid alone…and besides, I was impressed. May I remind you, dear reader, that I consider “cooking” to include making a PB&B(anana) sand. I didn’t have to mention it—but it’s just so…true and amazing. Anywho, one fine non-rainy Portlandia day (when on a different day we’d otherwise be discussing the uses of plaid by this season’s Organic chicken farmers…), the topic of “The Yoga These Days” came up, and for Pete’s sake I can talk on and on about this, but needed not add an additional ha’penny to our convo after she uttered the following: “I mean…Namaste just means ‘hello’.”
I nearly died laughing…because as is always the case, not only is the Truth stranger than fiction, it is also funnier.
Now, to explain to you non-yoga class enthusiasts the word “Namaste” (or if you reside in a hole or a barn—I mean, for crying out loud, I’m reasonably confident you can find a “Namaste” pillow at Walmart)…
In a typical yoga class–and trust me on this, I’ve been to more than a few–the teacher usually begins, but nearly always ends with “Namaste”. Now if he or she is in the mood or habit to ex-freakin-pound, he or she will say something along the lines of, “The light within me salutes the light within you…Namaste” and be done with it. Everyone disperses to fetch his & hers green smoothies. But if it’s a “game on” capital S Spiritual class, then all bets are off and the speech could go on. “All that is good, pure, of love, light and the highest intentions for creatures here on earth–and those who have passed on and reside in realms beyond…all that is Pure Joy, Pure Love, and Pure Light…salutes all that is (and I will abbreviate here and say) “the same” in you…Namaste.”
She was so right on a bunch of levels other than the literal one. Why is it we feel compelled to reinvent the Chakrasana (aka: “wheel”) like reinvention is going out of style? As a nomadic Yoga-deal seeker–and by this I mean every place I live or visit I seek out the best “new student deals” and take the poor studios for all they are worth—in exchange for my dynamic presence, of course—and no, I should not admit this but I did. (although Anchorage Yoga, I loved you so much I paid for you!)
It’s good to invent and of course we’re kidding ourselves if we believe many inventions are not reinventions, but if yoga is indeed thousands of years old—it is and it isn’t if we’re talking about “Rock Star pose”–but that’s another post, let’s stick to basics—‘cause those are complex enough. Let’s KISS our own asanas.
Let me put in a way the potential non-yogi-but-occasional-hot-beverage-drinker can understand: when you say, “I’d like a Grande Chai Tea, please (Oprah’s or no)” (and just because you’re ignorant doesn’t mean you’re rude), you are actually saying, “I’d like a Tea tea”, and that’s just silly, isn’t it? Of course I’m not culturally stubborn enough to believe that we all don’t know what we mean when this phrase is uttered, but, shoot, KISS (Keep It Simple Silly).
Namaste is a greeting. “Namaste means ‘hello'”.
I’m aware that this post might actually make me seem like the tool, but I’m ok with that…because, namaste—I’m right, right?