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Aloha and Namaste: Same, same not so different

Aloha and Namaste: Same, same not so different

The breath: A powerful tool within the Yoga practice that is always available to us both on and off the mat. Across many practices and cultures it is understood to be our life-force and so it is, because without oxygen life as we know it would cease. Here in Hawaii the breath or the HA is so highly revered and honored that it is incorporated into everyday life with the beautiful word: Aloha.

Aloha is an ancient word loaded with so much meaning that is used many ways including as a greeting, a description of a way of living and to communicate love, respect and peace. The literal meaning of aloha is “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.” It comes from “Alo,” meaning presence, front and face, and “ha,” meaning breath. When exchanging this greeting, ancient Hawaiians would pause and come nose to nose with each other and share a breath, honoring the shared and powerful exchange  of the breath or the HA.

It is interesting to consider how much the word Aloha overlaps with one we are very familiar with as Yogis: Namaste. Namaste is another powerfully significant word which translates loosely to “I bow to the light or life force within you. I bow to the place within you which is you, which is love, peace, truth and presence. When you are in that place of you and I am in that place of me, We are one”.

Both of these ancient words are acknowledging the same thing: the life force within and around us. By drawing our awareness to the breath we connect to this primal force that is the guide or the entrance way between our inner and outer worlds. And by recognizing this place or breath in others we soon come to see that we are all connected in so many ways but must obviously because we all share this fundamental flow of receiving and releasing the breath.

Take some time today to pause and observe your breath and reflect on this life force that flows to and from you. Notice the sound your breath makes when you exhale with a sigh thru your mouth. This ancient and cross cultural HA sound is one that allows to connect to deeply to ourselves, as well as unites us with every other living and breathing being on this planet. Powerful stuff!

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