I Bow to You

namaste Though yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, it has gained popularity and new expression in the United States within the past thirty years.  Yoga also has many critics, and some of those critics are Christians who feel that participating in an exercise that has its origins in a non-Christian culture is an idolatrous activity.  I know this because I was one of them.

For many years, I felt that participating in a non-Christian (or “pagan”) activity would potentially displease God, as he might mistakenly think I was worshiping Hindu deities.  I couldn’t risk that, so it was a long time before I felt comfortable enough to even attend a yoga class.  When I finally did, my view of a yoga practice dramatically changed, mainly due to the simple gesture of Namaste that my instructor taught us that first class.

The gesture Namaste is performed usually at the end of a yoga class by lightly pressing the palms together in front of the heart and bowing the head.  Though this gesture by itself signifies deep respect, in our culture the word Namaste (pronounced nahm-ah-stay) is usually spoken while bowing, and it means most simply, “I bow to you,” or “The Divine in me acknowledges the Divine in you.”  Though some may furrow a brow at the use of the word “Divine,” I see that as another way of acknowledging “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col.1:27 NIV). This makes sense to me, as our inclusion in Jesus Christ places us in the lap of the Son of God, as the Holy Spirit woos each individual into the fellowship with the Father.

This connection that we have with each other by our adoption into the relationship shared by the Father, Son, and Spirit is often forgotten in the busyness and ordinariness of daily life.  Someone cuts in front of us in traffic, and we get angry.  Another person gets a promotion at work that we know we deserved. Politics divide, and our respective cultures separate us, at least on the surface where our egos tend to get the better of us.  As long as we only look shallowly at our lives, we will never recognize that Jesus is constantly seeking expression through all cultures and in all circumstances.

For example, Jesus has placed his love in the Hindu or Muslim mother for her child, just as he has placed his love in a Christian mother for her child. Though the source of that love might not be known to the participant, God is still glorified as each mother lovingly cares for her child. In the same way, an atheist who works to feed the hungry or simply shows kindness to his or her dog is unknowingly permitting the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit to flow through him/her.  When we recognize that any love in this world ultimately started with God, we begin to see that God is no respecter of persons or cultures, and that despite many people’s efforts to keep him out of their lives, the divine love finds its way in.

The word Namaste symbolizes to me this recognition of God’s love and inclusion flowing to and through all of humanity.  When we stop thinking about our differences and instead choose to honor our connection through the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit, it changes the way we see others as well as ourselves.  By honoring our brother, not because we necessarily agree with him, we are reminded that we are part of a much bigger picture.

This change in perspective permits us to acknowledge that we each are on our own journey toward understanding the fullness of God’s love for all humanity.  Some may be further along than others, but all are being drawn toward a deepening relationship with their Creator.  Namaste sums up this change in viewpoint, from one of “I’m right; you’re wrong” to “We’re all in this together.” By showing respect to those who are very different from us, we honor the connection of love that flows from God through and to all of humanity.  Namaste.

~by Nan Kuhlman

8 comments so far

  1. Jeannine on

    Oh Nan – YES! I have goosebumps because this resonates with me so much.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Jeannine,

      I did, too, when I wrote it. I feel the need to write about this because as I write, it seems like I continue to learn more, or maybe become aware of more of God’s grace and presence with us everyone. So glad I’m not the only one!

      Nan

  2. Brad Haist on

    Powerful Nan! An insight many need to ponder.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Brad,

      As I mentioned in my comment to Jeannine, I’m still pondering it, wrestling with it, constantly seeing more nuances of the Divine Love and Presence with us all. I’m not sure I’ll ever be done thinking about it, nor am I in a hurry to lose the wonder of trying to take all of God’s goodness in. Thanks for enjoying the mystery with me!

      Nan

  3. billwinn on

    Great stuff Nan. The indwelling Christ will not be ignored or silent!

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Bill,

      Thanks for taking time to comment. We are all learning and growing and becoming more of the person we were intended to be – how can that not be good? The more we grow and progress in our journey (though I don’t know we’ll ever be done) , the more we’ll see the indwelling Christ shining through in all his glory!

      Nan

  4. jkharri4 on

    Thank you!!! THIS IS AWESOME!!! I love my yoga classes. I have class 3/4 times a week and I AM honestly more relaxed, more aware, more at peace after class than when I went in. At the end of class my yoga instructor bows to us, says Namaste, and ends class by saying ” the spirit in me, honors the spirit in you.”

    Yes, normally we don’t walk around acknowledging Christ in each other. So yesssssss I love my yoga class because I AM reminded that it is not just about me and my crazy life….there is a bigger picture…it reminds me of God’s love and inclusion in us all and honoring that connection. NAMASTE:-)

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      JKHarri4,

      I love your exuberance because it mirrors my own as I see our God constantly interacting with us in our daily lives!
      Namaste to you, too,
      Nan


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