What Is Namaskar?

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namas (bow) + kāra (action)

Namaskar Definition

Namaskar is the gesture of joining the palms of the hands together in front of the heart or forehead. It is an ancient way of showing reverence, humility, and gratitude.

In Indian tradition, it is considered a sacred gesture of respect, used when greeting elders, teachers, and spiritual figures.

The physical gesture is often accompanied by the use of the word “namaste“. The term “namaste” originates from Sanskrit and carries profound meaning. It can be broken down into two components: namah, which means “bow” and te, which means “to you.”

Therefore, namaste can be understood as “I bow to you” or “I salute the divinity within you.”

a silhouette of a woman with her hands in namaskar

Namaskar Deep Dive

The gesture of namaskar embodies the spiritual essence of yoga. It represents the recognition of the divine within oneself and others. By placing the hands together at the heart center or forehead, practitioners honor the unity and interconnectedness of all beings.

Viewed in this way, namaskar is a reminder that we are part of a larger cosmic whole and encourages the cultivation of compassion, kindness, and acceptance.

Namaskar also serves as a tool for mindfulness and focus. The act of bringing the hands together and directing attention to the heart or third eye (ajna) chakra helps to calm the mind, center one’s energy, and enter a meditative state.

Practicing namaskar promotes self-awareness and inner peace, allowing practitioners to tap into their spiritual nature.

Namaskar is widely integrated into yoga practice, particularly during the beginning and end of sessions. It acts as a ritualistic transition, marking the shift from daily life to the present moment on the mat.

When used in this way, namaskar can be accompanied by spoken or silent recitation of mantras or affirmations, enhancing the experience of connection and intention-setting.

In many yoga classes, namaskar is used as a salutation between students and teachers. It expresses gratitude to the teacher for sharing their knowledge and guidance, while also acknowledging the students’ commitment and dedication to their practice.

This exchange of namaskar creates a harmonious and respectful atmosphere within the yoga community.

Furthermore, namaskar can be incorporated into individual asanas (poses). In this context, it is sometimes referred to as “anjali mudra” or “prayer hands”. This hand gesture is commonly used during standing or seated yoga poses.

The anjali mudra is believed to amplify the energy of the pose, deepens concentration, and encourage the practitioner to connect with their inner divinity.

Beyond the physical practice, namaskar extends into daily life. It can be utilized as a gesture of goodwill when greeting others or expressing gratitude. In this way, the spirit of namaskar permeates relationships, fostering harmony, humility, and empathy.

hands in namaskar

Namaskar In Your Life

There are a range of ways you can incorporate the practice of namaskar into your daily life. Below you will find seven examples:

1. Morning ritual

Begin your day with namaskar as a form of gratitude and acknowledgment. You can do this as soon as you wake up or during your morning meditation practice.

2. Yoga practice

Incorporate namaskar into your yoga routine. The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) sequence is a popular yoga practice that combines physical movements with namaskar gestures. It is a great way to start your day and energize your body.

3. Meditation

Before or after your meditation session, perform namaskar to express gratitude and reverence. It helps to create a calm and focused mindset, enhancing the spiritual experience of yoga.

4. Daily gratitude practice

Incorporate namaskar as a part of your daily gratitude practice. Take a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for and express this while placing your palms together in namaskar. This can cultivate a positive mindset and appreciation for life’s blessings.

5. Mindful eating

Before you start a meal, take a moment to offer a silent namaskar, expressing gratitude for the food and everyone involved in its production. It helps develop mindfulness and a deeper connection with the nourishment you receive.

6. Self-reflection and introspection

In moments of solitude or self-reflection, bring your hands together in namaskar to center yourself, calm your mind, and connect with your inner self. It can be a simple gesture to cultivate serenity and self-awareness.

7. Practicing mindfulness

At any moment during the day in which you feel the need to connect back in with yourself, bring your palms together in namaskar, close your eyes, and focus on the sensation of the palms touching, the softening of your heart space, and the slowing down of your breath.

The practice of namaskar is not limited to the suggestions above. You are sure to find unique ways to incorporate it into your daily life based on your personal beliefs and preferences.

The essence of namaskar lies in its intention to show respect, humility, and gratitude in various aspects of your life.

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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

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Amy is a yoga teacher and practitioner based in Brighton.

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