Ottawa Yoga Teacher Profile - Chantal Houde
Updated: May 7, 2020
The first thing that came to mind when I crossed paths with Chantal was a fairly well-known saying "Still waters run deep." She has a quiet demeanor accentuated by what I can only describe as a deep-rooted steadiness, an Earth Goddess quality that makes you feel immediately at ease before she's even spoken a word.
I met with Chantal on a warm autumn evening last October at a gastro-pub in Hintonburg to have a chat. She started practicing yoga at the age of 15 or 16; she practiced Ashtanga yoga for a while and felt a resonance with Satchidananda (Integral) yoga as well. Yoga Nidra, a powerful meditation technique, known as yogic sleep, is also a large part of her practice.
Yoga was a soft landing place for Chantal, and became a form of support and community following thyroid cancer, the passing of her best friend and the break-up of a relationship. When she tells me all this, it is with such a peaceful fortitude, I can't help but be in awe. She also loves to travel, and has been all over the globe, even living in Australia for a time.
She completed her 200-hour Hatha Yoga teacher training in Costa Rica in early 2015, and found being steeped in a natural environment during this training to be of great value. Not surprising since Chantal holds an undergrad degree in Environmental Studies. Chantal is also trained in Vinyasa and Yin Yoga. She is currently completing her 300-hour teacher training in yoga therapy at a studio in Victoria, B.C.
Chantal loves teaching slower styles of yoga such as Restorative, and integrating what she's learning in her study of yoga therapy. She's passionate about Yoga Nidra and including gratitude in her teaching. When I attended one of her Restorative classes, I nearly fell asleep on a few occasions and felt completely grounded and at ease afterwards. She has a soft voice and a strong, yet yielding presence, as if to say: I'm here if you need me, but I'll give you all the space you want.
As with all my interviewees, I ask them how they feel yoga has changed over the past decade. Chantal has noticed that, since exploding into the mainstream, yoga has increasingly become homogenized, coupled with a branding of yoga as a very specific, highly stylized lifestyle (i.e. certain accessories and clothing are promoted, as is a certain yogi "look" that is purely fashion and trend-based). The lesson here? We should be vigilant of yoga becoming dogmatic in its "trendiness", thereby excluding large swaths of the population for not fitting into a very narrow mold.
If you have the opportunity, I highly encourage you to try out one of Chantal's classes. Her innate ease immediately creates a sense of inclusivity, where all are welcome. You can find her at PranaShanti Yoga Centre on a weekly basis. She teaches on Thursday mornings at 6:30 am (Hot Flow) and Saturday afternoons at 3:30 pm (Restorative). Chantal will also be leading a 6-week therapeutic yoga series "Yoga for Sleep", also at PranaShanti, starting on April 29. For more info or to sign up, click here. You can also check out her website, detailing her many travels, healthy eating tips and nuggets of wisdom, and you can find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.