Archive for the ‘namaste’ Tag

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

%d bloggers like this: