What is in a Name?

This is a nice picture

When I decided to have a website and other social media to promote my Yoga business I had lots of ideas of what to name the business. However it is pretty hard to find something that hasn’t already been taken by similar businesses. In particular, yoga terms and Sanskrit words are, for good reason, very popular. I wanted something that would be unique to me. When I was working on my practicum for teacher training one of my partners mentioned that her name translated to something very yoga cool. I won’t elaborate on this but needless to say, I was jealous. I felt my name was so boring with no interesting background, certainly no ties to ancient Sanskrit or India. It had been several years (ok 6 years) since I had last looked at a name book and I remembered that most names do have some kind of interesting origin or meaning. So I got Google going and looked up what the name”Shannon” means.

Turns out “Shannon” is Irish in origin and translates to “old wise river”. There is a cute story about a mortal woman who finds the Well of Knowledge and eats one of the magical hazel nuts that will enhance her wisdom and creativity. The Gods were not happy with this mortal disregarding the proper rituals and when she uncovers the lid to the well; angry and powerful waters spill out overwhelming and killing the woman. The powerful waters become the famous River Shannon that runs over 200 miles dividing the west of Ireland. The woman is transformed into the Celtic Goddess Sinann. I was very happy to learn that my name has a story and an interesting origin. I am not Irish, but I know I did have distant relatives that came from Scotland, so that is close enough. Now, my husband does have Irish roots, therefore my children are at least half so I think that makes me Irish by marriage and association? Cool.

In my research, I also discovered the personality traits of “Girls Named Shannon”. Girls named Shannon are marked by stability and discipline. They follow the rules and are conservative by nature. The have earth bound energy and like to build things on firm foundations, they are never frivolous. They are trustworthy, straight forward, dedicated, organized and tidy. Girls named Shannon are immensely reliable, punctual, full of integrity and hardworking, they are the backbone of their relationships and communities. What better qualities could you ask for in a yoga teacher? I am not suggesting that I am all of these qualities all of the time. But, I do know that they ring true with who I strive to be and what I value in others. I remember a comment my Yoga Teacher said one day. Our class was having trouble “settling down” and there were a lot of side conversations going on and not much attention was being paid to the lesson. Our teacher said that thankfully there were a couple “anchors” in the room to help regulate the energy. (In yoga, we spend a lot of time talking about, and playing with, energy). I was very proud to be one of these anchors. I like the idea that somehow my energy is stable and weighted. I try to focus on this idea when my boys are loud and crazy and driving me to distraction!

I decided to name my business Riverwise Yoga because it sounds a whole lot better than Shannon Yoga and it has not been used for anything else Yoga related. I find this odd and serendipitous actually, since many quotes and analogies in Yoga refer to Rivers. Even when we describe the flow of energy in our bodies during our physical practice. We use the analogy of our muscle energy acting like a river bank for our organic energy. If the river bank (our muscles)is strong our organic energy (or muscle extension and energy) has something to contain it, making it stronger, more forceful, more dynamic. A river with no bank meanders and is slow moving, but a river with a high strong bank is powerful and fast moving. Having played with this idea and done some energy experiments, it really works and is incredible simple and effective.

The last element that cemented my decision to name my business Riverwise is that I wanted a symbol that was aesthetic, natural and easily identified. I think some of the most beautiful art and photography are of water. What can be more magical, powerful and peaceful? Water is our most precious resource. I wanted to tie in my love of gardening, nature and travel to my symbol. I am not super active in nature conservation and environmental politics but I know I value those who do this work for us. I know I value our resources and hope that sound decisions are made to protect them. I have fond memories growing up in the Shuswap Lake. I remember the taste of creek water high in the Alpine, I remember swimming in ponds full of leeches and all kinds of other interesting creatures, I remember swimming in the lake with horses and fishing in the rivers and creeks. Water was, and still is, one of the Earths elements that bring the most joy to my life. I got married beside the ocean in Maui, and in our wedding verse it says ” may your love by limitless, flowing, and ever-changing. May your love forever redefine itself. And as these waters touch and nourish the many shores of this earth, may your love touch and enrich all those with whom you come in contact”. I think of this verse every time I see the ocean, such a beautiful idea that the water really does affect every shore and every person around the world. We are all connected and we all have the power to affect the lives of those around us.

As a Yoga student, and teacher, I hope to enrich my life and those around me with the beautiful ideas that Yoga philosophy and practice has to offer. They are simple, honest values and quality of movement that lets us build and tear down our river banks as we need it. Today my river of energy and creativity has been steady and deep. Tomorrow I may need to soften that river bank, slow down, meander around some ideas, play with some slow flowing practice, maybe a nice dance inspired practice full of graceful arm movements and long holds.

Shannon Robinson, 2014

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