I like to start a lot of my classes in “the spirit of yogic union and Namaste” by asking everyone to just take a look at the people sharing the space around them and give them a wave. Smiles are bonus points–you always get one back.
In the first instance that a newbie to my class hears my request, the look on his or her face is usually pretty much a scowl. We’re not used to being asked to reach out to strangers. Seeing that look transform into a huge grin and maybe a giggle, when they look around to see so many people smiling at them, totally makes my day.
Last class, a tall, trim European man (my accent identification is terrible) sitting at the front of the class directly in front of me asked after the hellos, “So what does Namaste mean, anyway. Is it like howdy in yoga speak?” I said, “Yes. Namaste means Howdy, in Sanskrit.” After we laughed, I offered up what I understand as the true translation: light in me sees light in you. And that became our take-away tip at the end of class.
Take-Away Tip: To Keep the Yoga Going Off the Mat I love to start my classes this way because I believe that simply recognizing our shared essence, through something as simple as smile or a nod–whether it’s humaness, or the simple fact we are all living beings–can deconstruct barriers. Barriers that get in the way of people feeling free to be themselves, that get in the way of treating every person with respect, that get in the way of working together rather than competing.
It’s not a panacea, but it is a start. Namaste. Light in me sees light in you. We are all one. On and off the mat.