I’m sure my students have noticed that around Christmas last year I stopped finishing my classes with ‘Namaste.’  I had come across some South Asian voices describing its use in Western yoga as cultural appropriation, so I decided to stop using it while I learned more.

To be honest, when I first became a yoga teacher, I felt uncomfortable saying it. It felt too similar to Catholic religious gestures, which don’t sit well with me…but that’s another story. In time I grew to enjoy it, and felt that it summed up a moment nicely.

But now I’ve read and reflected on it – @theyogadissident, @yogaisdead podcast and the free online masterclass with @susannabarkataki were great places to start. I’ve learnt that Namaste is actually more of a greeting, and not a spiritual ending. I had understood the translation to be ‘I bow to you,’ but in the literal translation,  there is no ‘I.’ It’s all about reverence for the other, just, ‘bow to you.’ So I was wrong about the literal translation and the other translation I had often used was ‘the light in me sees the light in you,’ which is a well-meaning sentiment, but as a translation, it turns out, is just Western whitewashing of the term. By misusing this Hindu greeting as a pseudo-spiritual ending, I feel uncomfortable again, and that’s enough of a red flag for me to feel it’s cultural appropriation so, I’m not saying it to end my classes anymore.

To be clear – I am not judging anyone else here, I said it for long enough. And I’m not going to be hard on myself either, I am forever a yoga student and as long as we’re open to listening and learning, then I think we can move forward in a positive way.

Surprisingly, deciding how I should now finish my classes has been a challenge for me. It turns out saying ‘Namaste’ was an easy fix, to end the class with gratitude, connection and intention, but I’m enjoying this new challenge. It’s forced me to be more thoughtful about the message I want to send and the atmosphere I want to create for my students.

Anyone else coming to this conclusion lately? How do you feel about Namaste?

Let me know,


Please check out the accounts above on Instagram to learn about cultural appropriation in yoga from people impacted by it.


  1. Natasha on November 11, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    Summed up beautifully ❤️ I also have stopped saying ‘Namaste’ in my classes.
    In my classes I usually end with a simple note of gratitude or with a mantra used respectfully

    • yogawithgrainne on November 11, 2021 at 9:24 pm

      Thank you Natasha. I’ve been doing much the same and it seems to work well for everyone.

  2. Carol C on November 11, 2021 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks for the insight Grainne. Gratitude can be expressed in so many ways, and I think the right words to end a session will flow easily for you.

  3. Yogini Linda Madani on November 11, 2021 at 10:49 pm

    In India, it is a greeting rather than a goodbye. They use when partying expressions such as Hari Om. I, too I have stopped using it at the end of class, and then I went to an Indian person class, and she said namaste at the end of the class, it confused me. I researched it, and it confirmed that it is a greeting. You would not say hello when you part with someone. Same.

    • yogawithgrainne on January 4, 2022 at 9:18 pm

      Hi Linda, thanks for your reply. I suppose there are always reasons why people do what they do. We never know anyone’s full story. I think once we’re happy and confident in our own decisions and how we teach, that’s all we can do.

  4. Corinne Carthy on November 15, 2021 at 10:41 am

    Hi Grainne,

    I so relate to your point. I used to say Namaste after my yoga classes like everyone else and always felt a little strange saying it, but could not say why. Then I trained as a Yoga instructor and thought – if the teachers are using it then I guess its ok. However, as I am on the early path to teaching, you gave me food for thoughts so I think that even through “namaste” and “the light in me honors the light in you” are already printed on my 500 brochures, I will refrain from using the words and instead thank my clients and be grateful every time one turns up to my class and I will let them know of my gratitude.
    Thank you

    • yogawithgrainne on January 4, 2022 at 9:15 pm

      Hi Corinne,
      Thanks so much for your reply. I think it’s great to think about it and form our own opinions. Best wishes in your teaching career!

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