Indians, especially Hindus are used to greeting each other, and gesturing in respect or honor, by placing both palms together at the eye brow level, then lowering them down to chest level, while bowing down.
This manoeuvre, known as "namaskaram", is called the Anjali mudra in Yogic practice. It is used for numerous reasons - to pray, to obtain blessings, to greet, and as a sign of respect. It is a "must do" gesture at the beginning and end of a yoga session, or during meditation.
The word is derived from the Sanskrit word Namah, which means "salutations to you", or "I bow to you with respect", while namaskaram translates into "I pay my salutations".
According to the yogahub.com, Namaskaram, beyond its literal meaning, can be construed as "I see you, beyond your strengths and weaknesses, beyond your achievements and hurts, beyond your personality, I see the pure light that you are. The place where I see you from is beyond all of my strengths and weaknesses, beyond all of my achievements and my hurts, beyond my personality, I see you from the pure light that I am."
Many yoga scriptures say that the act of joining both palms together during this greeting, combines the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which signifies the unification of the mind and soul with the universe.
The Significance Of Namaskaram1) Joining both palms together represents the opposites - the good and bad, love and hate, bright and dark, joy and sorrow, in your life, joined as an offering to God.
2) When doing the namaskaram, you bow towards a deity. When doing so, you unite the Brahma (God) in front of you, with the Atma (soul) in your heart. The palms don't just salute the God you see, but also the one that you don't see - the God within you.
3) The Anjali mudra carries several benefits. It helps relieve anxiety, and connects the practitioner with spirituality, which helps one to enter into a meditate state, and is a natural redemy for beating stress.
4) Namaskaram is an offering of your heart and soul, and a declaration of surrender, faith, love and devotion.
5) According to the Spiritual Science Research Foundation, namaskaram is the most sattvic (pure, natural and vital) form of greeting and should be adopted largely.
Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer
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