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Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column - Namaste Etiquette


Updated June 19, 2014



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Question: Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column - Namaste Etiquette

Dear Aunt Yoga,

My yoga instructor is wonderful and at the end of every session she ends with praying hands, then bows and says namaste. I say it back to her, only because the other students do, but I am always compelled to say thank you afterward. Then I feel awkward because she simply smiles and remains silent. Help! What is the proper etiquette and am I offending her by saying thank you?


Answer: Dear Candy,

The way you describe your teacher ending your session has become fairly standard in western yoga classes. Namaste is translated as "I bow to you," making it a lovely gesture of equality since the teacher bows first to the students and the students then return the favor. I have also heard namaste interpreted to mean "the teacher in me bows to the teacher in you," which again acknowledges the humility of the instructor. Although it isn't necessary to thank the teacher again in English, it is in no way rude. If you feel incomplete without saying thank you, you should continue to say it, as no one could rightly be offended by these words of gratitude.

Namaste (and thank you!),

Aunt Yoga

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