Traditional Yoga Greetings

Bringing your hands to your heart and greeting others with "Namaste" helps you focus on your yoga practice.
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Starting a yoga class can be intimidating, especially with the new Sanskrit names to learn and poses to master. Even the usual greeting, “Namaste,” can seem foreign -- other yoga phrases may just sound like gibberish at first. But each step of a yoga class is geared toward being mindful and developing an inner strength as well as outer exercise. By connecting to your breath and taking a moment to greet the instructor, as well as the class ahead of you, you can enjoy the full mind-body benefits of yoga.

    Step 1

    Enter the yoga classroom quietly and with bare feet. Do not talk on your cell phone.

    Step 2

    Unroll your mat and find an open spot in the classroom. Sit on your mat doing gentle stretches and begin to focus on your breath -- Pranayama is Sanskrit for conscious breathing. Wait until the teacher acknowledges the class with a “Namaste” greeting.

    Step 3

    To repeat the greeting, fold your hands together in a prayer-like position over your heart, called anjali mudra. Anjali means “offering” and mudra means “sign” -- this gesture brings your energy to your heart center and shows that you are ready to begin.

    Step 4

    Say “Namaste,” a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “The divinity in me bows to the divinity in you." More literally, “nama” is bow, “as” is I and “te” is you.

    Step 5

    Close your eyes and slightly bow your head and shoulders forward at the same time you utter “Namaste." In some practices just the hands and the bow are enough of a greeting, as “Namaste” is implied.

    Step 6

    Repeat the “Namaste” and bow at the end of class to solidify your practice and to honor your teacher and other yoga students around you.


    • For an alternative, place your pressed-together palms in front of your forehead, between your eyes where your third eye is located, instead of at your heart center.

    Things You'll Need

    • Yoga mat

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