Reconnecting with Yoga

“Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster,
it’s a cha-cha.” –
Robert Brault

I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution girl, but that doesn’t stop me from setting short and long-term goals throughout the year. Back in September, Athleta’s month of yoga inspiration sparked a new such goal for me: to climb back on the yoga wagon after about a year’s tumble. Ouch!

Amy Becker Williams AthletaI had been attending a yoga class in town for several years and loved the laid back feel of the class. Some yoginis might scoff at the structure, but the lights were dim, while tonal methodic wave-like music played in the background, we closed our eyes to focus on our breathing, held poses, and said “Namaste.”

Frannie, my instructor, was nearly 80 years young with back problems made manageable only by her regular yoga routine. Frannie was long ago divorced from a man she loved to hate and told us so in her dry wit sort of way, and often, right in the middle of downward dog. Frannie’s students were like family, devoted to her, she to them, telling life stories and anecdotes.

When I returned from summer vacation I scooted back to class, but the door was locked.

Frannie had passed away over the summer.

I tried other classes through the year, but none filled the void, and I tumbled.

When Athleta’s yoga-filled September rolled around, I knew it was time to climb back on the wagon. I kept hearing Frannie’s words about slowing down, breathing, and getting in touch with your body through yoga. “You owe it to yourself,” she’d preach, “practice breathing more slowly and deeply, even when in line at Wal-Mart.”

For most of us it’s rare to spend time focusing on our breathing, but careful control can rejuvenate our bodies and even decrease blood pressure and the ill effects of stress. Frannie once told us that the animals that live the longest, like the elephant, breathe the slowest. “A little food for thought,” she’d add.

It doesn’t matter what exercise I’m doing, I keep thinking of Frannie, her tenacity, devotion, and inspiration. I’ve been more acutely aware of my breathing, even when doing activities like skiing or walking my dog. My oldest dog is now 13+ years old, has arthritis and tires easily, but she loves going for walks more than anything. The last several months she stops half way through our patterned walk and plops down for a rest, completely unprovoked. It makes me sad, but she is in tune with her body, she knows what she needs.

Hmmm, more food for thought.

I read the other day that it takes a good 90 days for a new behavior to become ingrained in our psyche and become a habit. I’ve now passed that 90-day yoga mark and am feeling positive about my renewed success.

Yes, 90 days is a long time, so it’s not unusual for us to feel unsure of an expected outcome or to even see 90 days down the line for that matter. But for me, thinking of Frannie’s inspiration, getting recharged by Athleta back in September, giving myself rewards and pep talks helped me stay pumped up.

Do whatever it takes to get to where you want to be, whether you need to climb back on the wagon, keep a steady rate of improvement, or start a brand new challenge. Channel positive energy and inspiration and remember successes of the past and how good they felt (like the time I unexpectedly beat the fastest girl in our 6th grade track meet – I know, eons ago, but it felt so good, or completing my first official 5 and 10 K, or reaching a mountain’s summit for the first time).

Reveling in feel good moments just makes me want to create more, do more, be more. That’s my kind of goal setting.


“In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life”

Mumford and Sons, Awake my Soul


February 06, 2013 at 4:50 pm

So awesome that you are getting back into it! I totally feel your pain though- looking for a new yoga teacher is like finding a new best friend, and I’m a little picky when it comes to both. But they are out there! Goodness knows there are tons! Try them all out and eventually you will find someone that ignites your soul. Maybe not in the same way as Frannie, but maybe in a new, amazing way that you didn’t even know you needed! That’s what I’ve found in my practice. Good luck with yours!


February 07, 2013 at 10:16 am

Thank you for sharing this story! I am (still) going on a multi-year tumble from yoga, sadly, but am inspired and reinvigorated by your story to get back on the wagon. My dog is also aging, loves walks, and I too have noticed a slow down and the effects of time on his tiny, furry body. It makes me sad, but at the same time, even more appreciative of life and the ability to always change, and make positive decisions each and every day. Thank you.


February 07, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I appreciate how kind she is to herself…
I’m as “guilty” as the next to bring competitiveness into yoga, which I think can be unfortunate.
This experience shared is both comforting and inspiring.
Thank you…& Namaste


February 07, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Loved this entry. It was inspiring, well written, heartfelt and personal. Thank you.

Amy B. W.

March 03, 2013 at 9:54 am

Thanks you guys for your comments… Elle – I appreciate your encouragement and yes, I think I’ll eventually find that just right yoga teacher to give me my extra push and extra spark. I know I can do it myself, but sometimes I think we all need that someone to provide a loving push, whether it’s physically or emotionally.

Marisa – I hope you’re doing great at getting back on your yoga wagon. I know how hard it is to start again, but it feels so good. My older dog decided to lay right beside me this morning while I did my AM yoga routine…she was in my way, but I just couldn’t make her move. Here’s to our older dogs and how they teach us and love us every day!

Thank you CKB and Beverly, Namaste.

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