Last year I made the decision not to use the word, "Namaste" at the end of my yoga classes out of a deep respect for the culture from which yoga originated. Namaste is generally used in India as a greeting. Here in the West, it has become a way to close up or finish our yoga classes. We have morphed it into sayings printed on t-shirts like, "NamaSlay" "NamaStay in Bed" or "Namaste, Bitches." Whether intentional or not, Western yoga practitioners have taken this sacred and beautiful word/idea and bastardized it to fit our sense of humor and culture in a way that doesn't feel good to many Indians. The following explanation of cultural appropriation is from yoga teacher @susannabarkataki “Cultural appropriation is when someone uses someone else's culture, including practices, symbols, rituals, fashion, or other elements from a target or "minority" culture, without considering the source, origins or people of that culture. They may be using another culture for various reasons such as: * to make a profit * to "make a new trend" * to look cool or be fashionable * to be a cultural tourist or explore the "exotic" * or for some other self-serving purpose without respecting or caring for the original culture or context. Cultural appropriation happens when a dominant group adopts, benefits from, shares and even exploits the customs, practices, ideas, social and spiritual knowledge of another, usually target or subordinate, society or people.” Instead of closing with Namaste, I chose to return to the roots of my own yoga lineage and close my classes with the term “Jai Bhagwan.”
Jai Bhagwan is a Hindi saying roughly translated to mean “may your yoga (or the divine in you) be victorious” and is often spoken instead of Namaste in the Pranakriya and Kripalu traditions in honor of Swami Kripalu who was from the Gujurat region of India.
I offer this change out of reverence for the lineage and all of the teachers, rishis, and saints who have continued to explore and share this spiritual knowledge for thousands of years! May self-knowledge and truth triumph over untruth. For everyone, everywhere, always. Thoughts? Comments? Do share!