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Meet Fanny and Patrick, co-owners of the Othā Yoga studio

10 Dec 2020

Their kindness and personality beam through the screen. She's been teaching yoga for eight years, has developed her own meditation technique, and has offered free breathing sessions online since last spring. He's a business manager and consultant. Together, Fanny Gingras and Patrick Bélanger co-own the Othā Yoga studio in Laval. During our warm, emotional, and honest conversation, the couple opened up about the year they just went through, what it has brought them, and the holidays that they've promised themselves they'll enjoy… one breath at a time.

Breathing: Our One Constant

During the height of quarantine, Fanny hosted mindful breathing workshops online three times a week. “Every time, I was welcoming more and more people who needed to recentre themselves.”

But isn't breathing innate? “People are so tense now. Their breathing muscles are stuck, everything's tight, so they're breathing badly. The idea is to be able to take full breaths all the time. As soon as they're able to do that, they wonder how they even managed before!”

But it takes time to get there. The key is gently incorporating small habits into our daily life, like anchoring our feet on the ground and breathing deeply while waiting in line (we've been doing a lot of that lately!), thinking about it every time we stop while driving, and exhaling through our mouth to make it easier to relax.

Due to his busy schedule, Patrick came up with his own tricks: “My watch reminds me every hour to breathe!” In addition to working with chambers of commerce and entrepreneurs that are already up and running, the business coach teaches the ins and outs of starting up a business at the Commission scolaire de Laval. “In my classes, I take two breaths every time I change slides. Over time, I noticed that my students were doing the same! Everyone needs it, whether consciously or not.”

“It's not magic,” Fanny says. “Breathing is simple, and it's always a part of us. There's nothing fancy to it! When you rediscover it, you want to mindfully reconnect to it.”

2020: Taking Stock and a Fresh Outlook

Due to 2020 redefining her practice, Fanny realized she was taking on too many things. Patrick came to a similar conclusion. “I'm always helping others. From dawn to dusk, Fanny, my children, my students… But as I'm nearing my fifties, I realized that I also need to take care of myself.”

The family of four also reconnected at home. The couple has two boys, one is seventeen and the other nine. The eldest, who used to live in joint custody, now lives full time at the Gingras-Bélanger house. “At times, we were each off on our own, taking or giving a class on Zoom. But we were always together. Our bond got stronger.” 

The Holiday Season: More Important Than Ever 

What do year-end celebrations mean to them? Without hesitation, Fanny answers, “Family!” True to tradition, the clan will put on their holiday best and create memories they'll carry with them forever, even if that means celebrating in their own social bubble.

“Gifts!” says Patrick, his eyes twinkling. “Shopping for them and especially giving them. I'm like a little boy at Christmas; I never make it to Christmas Day [laughs]. Sometimes, I give one on the 19th or 20th to make the fun last.”

While the festivities will be different this year, they both promise to enjoy them. “We're already in the holiday spirit,” Fanny says joyfully. “We usually decorate the tree two weeks before Christmas. Never before. This year, we had it up by mid-November!” Patrick and Fanny also bought a few board games. “We plan to play a lot. This year's celebration will be another opportunity to connect with our kids,” Patrick says enthusiastically.

The subtle excitement building up on both sides of the screen pauses for a moment. The call falls silent, eyes well up, and the voice on the other end turns emotional: “Every year on the 31st, I want to be the first to wish my sons and wife a happy New Year, before everyone else.” Again this year, Patrick promises that he won't miss his chance.

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