namaste picHands and their gestures are powerful ways to express emotions without saying a word. Many gestures date back to ancient times and today we often see the peace symbol, thumbs up, OK, high five, and on occasion the obscene middle finger. As a yoga instructor, there is one gesture that I do everyday. I bring my hands together in prayer pose (pranamasana), Anjali mudra, or as they say in India, Namaste or Namaskar.

The coming together of the left and right hands is common across many cultures. Some might think that bringing the hands together is only done in a religious setting. This is not true. In many cultures, bringing the hands together is a way to say hello, goodbye, to show respect, and to offer gratitude.

Physically, when we bring the palms together at the level of the heart, we balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain. We center ourselves and calm down the nervous system. Our hands have many pressure points and when we push the palms together we activate many of our body’s functions. Remember back to a time when you clapped your hands for a few minutes. I bet you felt energized. When it comes to sensory-motor functions, did you know that our brains devote the most energy to using our hands? Try it out by sitting for a few minutes, closing your eyes, and bringing your palms together.

Moving beyond physical benefits, we get to the deeper meaning. In India, Namaste means – as I bow to you, the divine in me sees the divine in you or the goodness in me sees the goodness in you. This is such a beautiful way to be while greeting and acknowledging another human being. When you walk into a store in India you bring the palms together, say Namaste, and slightly bow. The other person does the same to you. Immediately, there is a connection at a deeper level. When I came back to the States I found myself doing this in stores and restaurants and the people would look at me like I was crazy. It was a habit and it felt so natural and uplifting that I wanted to keep doing it.

How would your life be if you took the time to show respect for everyone you came into contact with throughout the day? This includes not only your family and friends, but also people you don’t know such as the cashier at the grocery store. During the initial seconds of interaction, take a few seconds to connect and to honor the other person at a deeper level. Not at the superficial level by being consumed with what they look like, what they are wearing, or what name brand they have on. First connect at the heart-level and see yourself in the other person.

We are all connected. I know, most of us, me included, run around each day and worry about our own issues and rush from here to there. If we would slow down and connect with each person whom we meet, then I promise, you will feel something special. You will start to see everyone around you as part of the bigger picture. We are all here doing the same things and living life. We all want to be happy, healthy, comfortable, and secure.

Try it out. Place your hands together and bow to honor the goodness in the other person. If you live in the Western World, people might look at you funny, but who cares. At least start by feeling it on the inside and taking a few seconds to recognize the other person. Each time you acknowledge another person you are by default acknowledging yourself – to honor and respect yourself is to honor and respect others.

Enjoy this video from Sadhguru and notice the people who have all taken time to put their hands together. Join them.