In the United States, there’s now a tradition for the main facilitator of yoga teacher trainings to bestow a Sanskrit name upon the students at the time of graduation. This is often done at the end of a basic 200-hour training, and if not then, at the end of more advanced-level trainings.
I’ve always been intrigued by the beauty and meaning of Sanskrit names and felt disappointed when my class didn’t get names in 2011. As I was completing the Yoga of Recovery training at Yogaville in 2017, I inquired about Sanskrit names, yet didn’t believe any of the teachers or Swamis knew me well enough to choose a name for me. I knew these names are best bestowed upon a person, rather than chosen for oneself.
So, this past January as I completed a 30-day residential staff program (the Living Yoga Training, or “LYT” program) at Yogaville, I asked one of the Swamis who knew me well by that point about a name. She asked me to write her a few sentences about what I believe my mission in this world is; she said she’d pray and meditate over what I write and allow a name to come to her spontaneously.
It’s believed that these names are divinely bestowed when the process is taken seriously and reverently. The name that’s given represents something the person is already living to some degree AND striving to develop more fully.
Some common female Sanskrit names are : Shanti (peace), Padma (lotus), Satya (truthful), Prashanti (ultimate peace), Anandi (blissful), Nirmala (immaculate), and Prema (love).
I wrote to the Swami (which means, through her, I was communicating with God) and told her I believe my mission in this world is to be an instrument of healing: My work and calling involves helping people physically, mentally and spiritually; I genuinely want everyone to be happy and healthy and to enjoy life to the fullest.
So, after an evening of prayer and meditation, the Swami met with me and told me the name that came to her is Jivani (pronounced Gee-vuh-knee). This means “vivifying” or “enlivening.” It’s also a name of the Divine Mother who gives life.
The name, Jivani, is beautiful to me! I am both proud AND humbled to carry such a name. When people call me by this name it reminds me that I have the quality of “enlivening” AND I’m continuing to develop this quality. It’s an ongoing process just as life itself is a continuing process. There’s always more to learn, more to develop. This can be – and hopefully is – exciting!