Namaste, the prayer hands gesture over your heart, moving hands to the forehead and then bowing deep is a sign of respect given to my students and to the lineage of teachers that have gone before me. There is a Divine nature in all of us located in the heart (chakra). Namaste recognizes that nature or soul within all of us, by saying "I honor the Spirit or Light within you". Literally in Sanskrit, Namaste translates to "I bow to you". Used as a parting greeting, I've also heard it said to mean "wish you well".
“There is place inside of every human being…a place of love, light, peace, and warmth. When you are in that place and when I am in that place, there is only one of us.” Gandhi
When I lived in Malaysia, I observed that Malaysian Indians would make this gesture without saying Namaste but rather a simple gesture of their hand over their heart saying "Selamat Datang" meaning "I greet you from my heart" or welcome. (For an expat, I would do this when I met someone older, offering a handshake first, then covering my heart with my hand.) There were so many greetings in Malaysia. Mostly, because of the European influence, a kiss or a kiss on both cheeks would be a typical greeting outside of yoga class among friends. However, in traditional yoga classes, Namaste was usually done but not said. And, most classes would end with a Sandskrit blessing or prayer as well. (There were many other differences in classes compared with the US. For example, no air con or music and the difficulty level of just a beginner class would compare to a level 2/3 class here. Let's just say, there's not as much concern about liability or safety issues. ; ) )
I think Namaste is beautiful because it is a symbol of respect and deep gratitude for sharing practice together.
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For me, the Sanskrit 'namaste' comes from Latin ('namus dei' = in the name of God). That's what I think and that's how I feel it, everytime I hear the word.