Why Yogis Say, "Namaste"


Several years ago, I ordered a hot beverage at Starbucks. I was wearing a shirt with the Om symbol on the front. The barista, whose name tag lead me to believe he was Indian or Indian American, looked at my shirt and asked me, "Do you even know what that means?" Without hesitation, I responded, "It is the sound of the Universe, and everything within it." He smiled, and said, "Very good." Whew! I passed the test. I imagined that he must have seen his fair share of cultural appropriation and was getting tired of people coming in and ordering their vente-half-vanilla-latte-decaf-espresso-heated-to-100°-with-nonfat-milk-and-caramel-drizzle while obliviously wearing sacred symbols purely as fashion statements. I was reminded of this moment last week, when an article was posted in Yoga Basics on why yoga teachers and their students say (or don't say), "Namaste" at the end of the class. Cultural appropriation is one of the things that makes some people uneasy about using this word. But, as with Om, I feel that words can be used, if they are used with respect for the tradition from which they come, and with a good understanding of the meaning. After all, English is pretty much a smorgasbord of words from other languages, one of the beautiful things about this melting pot of a country. To learn more about "Namaste," and how to use it properly, I refer you to "Why Do Yogis Say Namaste? Definition, Meaning, and Proper Use." (full disclosure, I am one of the yoginis quoted in it). Namaste

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