Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Part 2 of a series about what it means to practice yoga in a way that honors God.

One of the things that I had no context for understanding when I began yoga was the way we ended each class. 

The instructor would bring us to a seated position, after savasana, and have us bring our hands into prayer position,our hands touching and centered at our sternum.  She would bend forward slightly, bowing as she said, “Namaste.”  We would roll our mats up and get ready to leave. 

The first couple times I went I just observed.  I watched as she led.  I watched as the other people in the class would mimic her in the bow and say the words.  And I wondered.  What does it mean?

“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 is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. "Nama" means bow, "as" means I, and "te" means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means "bow me you" or "I bow to you."”
Considering the source of this word comes from an Eastern religious understanding, entirely different from my own Christian understanding, I wondered if there was any Truth in this to be reclaimed and reinterpreted. 

(Paul did this when He was in Athens.  He found an altar with an inscription “To an unknown God.”  Then, he told the Athenians about this God they did not yet know.  He proclaimed the Good News, by interpreting their altar in a new way.) 

There seemed to be two key pieces to understanding Namaste—“that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart” and the “acknowledgement of the soul in one by the soul in the other.” 

Could this be interpreted in a new way?

In talking about this with my husband, a few things came to mind.  The way God made us in His image.   And that the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside the believer when we walk in relationship with Christ. 

All are made in the image of God.  We reflect Him by just being who we are.  So, while we are not God, only made in the image of God, the Holy Spirit may, indeed, live in us if we are surrendered to Christ.  And if we are looking, it would be easy to identify His handiwork in one another—either through who God has made us to be or by what we allow Him to do in us. 

Similar to the idea of the Divine spark and acknowledging this in one another. 

Yet different.  A better way of understanding what is true. 

I think Namaste said with this understanding honors God. 

Yet, I have chosen not to end like the rest of class, with the Namaste, because I want to practice differently. 

I want the person on the mat next to me to wonder why I haven’t participated with the rest of the class.  I want them to know that they have been made in the image of the Creator God.  I want them to know His love for them.  I want them to know that, in Christ, God can really live in them by way of the Holy Spirit.  Can walk with them.  Can lead them.  Through each moment.  Of each day.  Transforming.  Changing.  And renewing a life.  

I want them to understand Namaste differently. 

I want them to know Jesus.

So, at the end of class, when we sit back up from savasana, as we breathe deep and lift our arms up, as we move our hands to prayer position...

I quietly think to myself of being made in His image. 

Of the Spirit that lives within me. 

Of those nearby. 

I offer a quick prayer of thanks, petition, and opportunity to share—namaste redefined.

Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we seek to claim and redefine that which seems to ring true by submitting it to the God who is true, that we might share Him with others.

Jessica :)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jessica,
    I found you at the Allume website. I hope to meet you over the weekend. I too do yoga and wrote a post about it. I have struggled also with Namaste and Ohm. I love the practice of yoga for my body, my body loves it. I appreciate your comments so much. thank you.
    p.s. maybe we could meet up for a yoga session at Allume. I know I will want to stretch out and work my body after sitting for hours. Look for me there.