Often the physical (asana) practice is what lures someone new to yoga, a desire for flexibility or strength and agility or better balance, or any of the other physical benefits. Then, at the end of each class there is bowing and “Namaste.” If someone is not sure what this means, it could be confusing or unclear as to whether yoga is a good fit.
Namaste — what is it, and what’s happening at the end of your beloved yoga class?
At the end of my classes, after savasana (the final pose in a class where students lie on their backs), students roll to one side for a few breaths and then “meet back in seated.”
When they come to seated, I am already there with my hands in prayer pose at my heart. Many clients mirror this pose. I, then, will say something to conclude class and say “Namaste” and bow (fold forward).
Namaste is one word that encompasses a beautiful sentiment. The sentiment is the idea that we all have good within us, light within us. Yoga is meant to turn us toward that good. Namaste means “The light in me greets, honors, and bows to the light in you.” Often yoga instructors will say both things at the end of class: “The light in greets, honors, and bows to the light in each of you. Namaste.” Sometimes they only say Namaste.
In class, many of the students will repeat “Namaste” and also bow as a way of additionally sharing the sentiment with the community of yogis in the room.
HOWEVER, if doing so makes someone uncomfortable, there is no requirement to do bowing or in repeating “Namaste.” Just as in the physical practice, all parts of the yoga practice are personal and should feel good for the person practicing.
As an instructor, I greet, honor, and bow to my community but never expect anyone to do anything that makes them uncomfortable or is not a part of their practice.
It is meant as an acknowledgement of those practicing, and I see it as a way of thanking those who trust in me to lead their practice.