What does Yoga do for You?

Earlier this week I went to my local coffeeshop and the barista asked me: „You are a Yoga Teacher, right?“ It took me a second to say; yes! I was puzzled of how she could possibly know this? I mean, it’s not like wearing leggings and a tank-top scream Yoga Teacher anymore, or maybe it still does? For all she knew I could have just taken a yoga class. Then again, she only ever sees me in leggings and a tank-top. My hair mostly looks like it’s just coming down from a handstand and if I don’t wear flip-flops, I wear sneakers. My uniform doesn’t look like the perfect suit but it sure as hell suits me in the department of comfort.

She took my usual order and there was a slight pause, we looked at each other. There was a line forming behind me. I tilted my head slightly to the right and smiled at her.

„So, what does yoga do for you? Why do people do yoga?“ she asked. I took a deep inhale and a deep exhale, I didn’t see that coming. What is the purpose of yoga? I asked myself? I caught myself thinking; what an excellent question! Hm, how do I answer that without opening up a can of worms? I looked at her thoughtfully, the line still getting longer behind me, my thoughts scrambling for a short and truthful, yet adequate answer. I said; „It makes you more OK. Yoga makes you more OK with this world and yourself.“ She nodded. My answer seemed like it made sense to her.

What does yoga do for you?

Yoga Makes You More Ok.JPG


This happened in late June 2018 – I truly believe YOGA with all its limbs has the power to make you more OK. Keep practicing! 

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The Vulnerability of the Heart

It is precious. Like the careful holding of a fresh, hand-blown, very thin glass bubble. Warm and soothing. You hold it tight yet, very gentle at the same time. It is perfect because it is yours. Touching the glass, you can feel your blood pulsate through your fingertips. The grip is steady. Holding it up to your eyes, it seems almost like you are able to look through a blurry, transparent slide of life.

You know if you’d push more, if you cling to it, the glass bubble will break into hundreds of little pieces. There is only so much and so long you can hold on to (it).

And then when the heart breaks, all you’re left with is the utter gutted beauty of the rawness. The sharp edges of the broken glass bubble. The bubble that is no more. The roundness has become edgy. Splintered. The glass shattered. What once held warmth and light has disappeared. The bubble vanished into air & space. Leaving tiny pieces behind, in your hands. If you look closely you will see that the lines of your palms are trying to hold onto some of the sparkle. The shimmering beauty of it all.

Oh the vulnerability!
The suffering and the pain.
Apparent in shambles. Right in front of you.

Buddha once said; “All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”

So the work begins; you find yourself at the start. Breathing in and out. Not sure where to begin, as you are mesmerized by feeling the sheer pain inside, yet looking at pieces of life on the outside. You hear your breath within, like when your immersed under water trying to numb out the noise. The patching back together of the heart after the break and the letting go is as precious as the vulnerability of it. The glass pieces don’t fit together anymore. No matter how hard you try. There are too many. Lines. Pieces. Years.

As it so happens, you’ll find the same vulnerability right after coming back to your mat; with an injury. You can feel the shadow of your pain. It is lingering in very deep corners of your tissues. The injury has left a mark, it’s imprinted deep within, or perhaps even visible on your body. You know it is there. The heart knows. Even the breath knows. You are more gentle. It’s the beginning. A new path line.

With an extra layer of caution, of kindness. You have Love.

There is nothing else left to do than to carefully re-educate and re-evaluate your movement. Practice.
One step at a time. Patience.
Peace.

And so it is.
The Heart.

Chantal Hauser - Vulnerabilty Article.jpg


Something between a poem and a short story. 

My Photography Project

A couple of weeks ago a private client I’ve been working with for the past year asked me what else I like to do, apart from yoga? I smiled and thought about it.

Let’s see; yoga is what supports my life. It’s my work. It’s how I support myself and pay for my living. It’s hard work. It’s beautiful work. It’s the only work I can truly identify with.

Do I have a hobby? I asked myself. Is my work my life? Or is it my life’s work? I was thinking, then I replied; yes I do. I like to take photographs.

I went home and pondered on over this question. I talked about it with my soulmate well into the morning light and we ended up at svādhyāya. The inquiry to the self. It has taught me that everything is connected. The limbs of yoga, of union.

So when I teach yoga in a group and prepare a sequence; I create forms in movement. The forms transition into shapes. When I wake up in the morning I invite my breath to dance with my spirit. The prana flows with me on the mat. My practice. Pranayama. When I sit in stillness I become more aware. I am. When I write my feelings onto pages I practice letting go and yet at the same time I give birth to thoughts. Inspiration.

And so it is… that through my photography my eyes see. They meditate on one focus, one moment in time. It is not a mere expression, nor a projection. Perhaps it is an illusion? There is no reaction other than feeling. A feeling in the present moment — to see. Dristhti. Pratyahara. Dharana.

It goes without saying that to produce art one has to create art.
Make Love. Always.

 

My Photography Project.jpg


I’ve been working with an experienced art critic and a gallerist  to sell limited prints. This one is the first of 5 | Title: “Ísland Loft” | 60x60cm | 490.- chf.
I am moving out of my comfort zone. One step at a time — more news soon

To support my photography project email: yoga@hanumanshala.ch 

The Middle Path – A Poem

When it all comes together the middle forms a path in between ruthless nature. We worry about how things will turn out — when the pieces match long before they fall (apart) and come together (right) in front of you — in a perfect way.

 Nature Middle Path.jpg


This picture is taken from a video. I was riding down from Schatzalp into Davos at the end of March 2018. 

Pratyahara – A Poem

Trust the love
you once had
deep inside (yourself)

Folding into ease
Surrender to ahimsa of the Self

Recuperating
a (broken) heart full of life
It takes practice

to believe

To know you will
once
You
trust the love
you once had

Trust Chantal .jpg

Photo: F. Van Hecke @Casa Corvo, Novaggio – Switzerland | 2018

The Way it Dies until Birth

The pitch black deep hole of emptiness. It appears like the sea; vast and endless. But when you look closer it’s contained within. Alone. In that hole there can be a lot of pain. The pain most likely burns. It is more than a feeling of hurt it is a burn, like when fire strikes the top of your skin, eating its way through to your delicate and open flesh. It burns like crude iron before it becomes cold and heavy steel. That exact heaviness locks you down underneath a smooth, glacial slate-like form of a rock. Transparent.

The pain moves. There is this place where the softness of the saltwater shell that holds your heart beat in tact falls apart and your tears break open. The pain moves from that place to every single corner of your body. It takes less than a second. The sting, so deep into the heart, so vicious, you didn’t see it coming and it stays for a bit. Building itself a nest of warmth and comfort. It itches, like the edge of a blade gliding along side it’s target. That pain.

I was reminded of that pain the other day. On my mat. It showed up in Surya Namaskara A. I kept moving through my asanas, listening to my breath. Ignoring it all. Concentrating. Breathing in hard, exhaling as not to suffocate, moving faster, I felt like an empty pot full of disaster. Control your mind I thought, I grasped towards focus and concentration and wished for it to become a place of refuge. Kumbhaka and hold.

Realizing that the pain was stuck. I was at a cross roads, knowing to completely feel the pain is death. It would simply – break – me. In that moment. Was I ready to pick up my shattered pieces again afterwards? Could I collect them all on my yoga mat?

Allowing pain to sit with you and to feel loss.

To completely feel that, makes you want to disappear. To literally leave space. Like you are not there. But yet, you are. Here. You torturously know that with losing that part of your Spirit, you have also lost a little bit of your Self. Because it formed a completion, it was a bowl of water and now it’s missing a piece. You have emptied your soul to the universe.

There is a moment when you know that the space in between your bones and skin is hollow and the air that was hugging your skin snug – is not holding it together anymore. Especially, when you remember the loss you have felt. The loss of all the people that you have walked away from, the people that have left you, the loss of a child that wasn’t yours to keep, because life was too short, the loss of all the energies that have held you up high and together, they’ve all vanished. Gone. Dead. Empty. In that state, the particles that make up your skin feel like crumbling into little pieces of dust, of nothingness.

You are left with no other than your Self, whom you don’t know anymore. You are left searching and looking into the mirror and not even the deepest corners and angles of your eyes will give you an answer. The only thing you see is someone you don’t even recognize anymore from the outside. You see the pain, very clearly. You feel the stifling agony on the inside. This is when the pain hurts and when the loss is heavy. Your body is held together by nothing other, than by your bones and they are struggling not to fall. Within. When you reach that point you have to think of the timeline of your bones, the relics they will carry on. Remember the strength of your muscles and how they help your bones. Remember the vibrancy of the blood, flowing through, letting them make their little rivers of passaging, to create life. Gently start to feel the little caressing strokes of energies that glue you back together and make your cracks into scars of your story.

Most importantly, remember that this is why we do yoga. We do yoga to see the divine in everything, even ourselves.

From all of that inherent power in your bones comes vulnerability. A little bit like the gentle opening of a flower, delicate and courageous. It reminds you that you can grow. I reached Surya Namaskara B and inhaled into Utkatasana – the intense, fierce, powerful posture. Then bowing and striking the Earth, letting it touch the bottom of my hands, smelling its ground in Chaturanga Dandasana and then moving on up. Letting go. Being supported. Coming up into Upward-Facing Dog and resting in Downward-Facing Dog to refocus, reground, and reconnect. Breathe.

To know that there is support, even if it seems invisible, know that the Earth is there to hold you and there are always people watching you. Allow yourself to be supported (even if that means to grab a yoga block or a blanket). When I used to feel that tormenting pain, my exit strategy was to leave myself, to numb myself, to be everything but myself. Since then, I have learned that I simply have nowhere else to go but up. Rebuild yourself from the bottom up, re-rooting and replanting. Like Utkatasana – fierce and intense.

At the end my heart didn’t break into pieces, but it broke open. I realized that all the countless times I have come home to my mat, stepped my feet together and started to move with breath, have let me to allow this. Space. Give yourself space. And when you think that your heart is breaking, it could be a sign of your heart opening. It might be your heart showing you that it can withstand the power of loss, that it is receptive to feel the pain and that it is open let go and essentially move on. Moving on to a place where you can bow to your heart as your true Self.

Utkatasana .JPG


This picture was taken at Tim Miller’s shala Ashtanga Yoga Center in Encinitas, California in the late summer of 2016. A place where I always feel supported, uplifted and at home. 

A long Weekend in Paris – with a short Note

Dear City of Lights

I just saw you again and spent a whole weekend with you. I needed a break. Perhaps a look into the past. Knowing it is different now. Today. 

Feeling gratitude to be able to come and teach yoga to someone that has supported me since the beginning. Introducing yoga to someone new too. Overall feeling special to having been invited “to come on over” for doing my work. I love. 

Strolling along familiar streets. Feeling fearless about derailing into old habits. Feeling respect for the city that I first moved to with a broken soul from Brooklyn and left with a burned foot from Hveragerði. Feeling excited to go underground  and sink into the lost world with marble statues at “my old office” – the Louvre. Remembering the tears I’ve lost on the metro. Longing for the love that happened in Montmartre, protected by the sight of the Sacred Heart. I feel. Oh love, where are you now? Have we lost it all. On the steps. I breathe it all in. 

Practicing. Yoga; my love, my therapy, my healing on my mat at a shala. This weekend. 

Balancing on one foot is so much easier now than it was 7 years ago. Time has passed.
I am.

Here. 

Respectfully Yours

Chantal  paris chantal.JPG

This One. Is for You.

I grew up a lost little tomboy trying to fit in. With my heart I wanted one thing, and I was told from the outside to do the other. Always. So much so that when I was more of a grown up, my brain believed the outside more than my heart. There was a complete disconnect. It led me through an achievement of self-destruction in several fields of life. I flat-out jumped over the edge numerous times, even without coercion – and whenever I hit rock bottom there was one thing that never left and was always waiting for me: I never felt good enough. I never did anywhere, especially not at the bottom of the pit. 

Yoga changed that for me. Yoga gave me space. Yoga gave me back everything that I had lost or forgotten. It still does. Yoga reminds me to be me.

When I teach yoga, my intention is to give you space – to breathe, to move, to grow.

To feel.
To feel good. 
To feel good enough.

I never would have imagined that I would be – one day – able to find myself as a Lululemon Zurich Ambassador, nor have a picture of myself in a Lululemon store, in my city of birth that I thought to have long left behind.

In this picture I am represented as who I am, and who I want to be. 
I am doing what I love. 
This is Me.

This picture is for You. I open my heart. I bend back. I trust. I am grounded.

I am honored to have you in my class and hold space for you.
Thank you.


ChantalLululemon.JPGPhoto by Silvano Zeiter


 

Dedication – A Life – Perseverance

A thought I had. Some call it marriage. Or a relationship, a friendship. A dedication to something that is bigger than yourself, something that makes you strive for greatness. A practice.

Practicing yoga everyday makes me strive for greatness. It makes me feel connected to my essence, my being.

A relationship is practice, a marriage is practice, it is something to be cultivated between two people and a yoga practice is between you and your Ishtadevata, your Soul, your Self, your Spirit, you name it. It is not about the other person or the yoga in itself. It is about the concept of yoga, the practice. It is what you create. It is also not about your teacher, the teacher is a mentor, there to guide you.

For some it might be the very concept of making a child. But then again, it is not about the child. It is about the connection you grow with your child, the moments that happen, and the creation that you were part of.

The practice grows; it is messy at times. It can be oh-so-selfish, driven, full of emotions, selfless and empty too. Most of all it is continuous. Every day. And when an asana (yoga position) gets difficult, we keep on it, we don’t walk away. Practice. One shouldn’t walk away from a commitment without remembering the initial intention. Yet, learn to walk away when something destroys your soul; an addiction, a relationship. I’ve had to learn to walk away (with a lot of practice) —but not from my yoga. Practicing yoga has made me become extraordinary at who I am, not perfect. There might very well be some pouting, perhaps some toying around with ignoring the practice, but at the end we step back onto the mat. “I surrender,” which doesn’t mean giving up or being weak, but instead to staying focused on the big picture, to not be attached, to stop resisting, to step out of rigidity and simply, to practice. Every practice has an intention.

It is not the style of yoga but the practice of it. It is about the relationship or the marriage you create together with the other person, not the person herself. Basic physics and mathematical logic, biology—it’s the connection and the transition. It’s the path of your life and not death, nor the goal.

I’ve learned to communicate with my body, and to listen to what it has to tell me. It’s an ongoing process. I practice. Keep on practicing. Asana. Yoga. Breath. Mindfulness. Perseverance. Nourish what makes you feel complete. As Guruji used to say: “Do your practice and all is coming.”


There is so much more to this. All I can write for a thought is the above. Patanjali’s Sutras, book 2 verses 23-27, inspired this thought process. As well as the ever difficult pose of Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B.

Olomana 3 Peaks Hawaii ChantalFinding a moment of gratitude to be alive in the middle of peak two and peak three of the Olomana Three Peaks Trail in Kailua – HI. 

Ode To My Yoga Mat

You are always there for me. Rolled out so that I can step onto you. My feet are pushing into you, trying to ground down, finding stability. My hands are spread out and webbed onto your surface. When my forearms are looking for hold, you provide one. After a while I sweat on you, drops and puddles of saltwater accumulate. You stick around you and you don’t leave. Every once in a while you even let me cry, quietly or with a side of sniffles. I can jump on you without you jumping back. I can hold onto you with my hands, even while I walk on them. Sometimes you hold me up by just one foot. Not quite yet with only one hand. Whenever I am not able to go as far as I want or as I used to (yesterday) you are there holding me in the position I am in, in the here and now. When you are getting a bit smelly, I wash you with twists and soap and you aren’t mad at me. I make you go through a whole washing cycle and you’re probably sea sick….you are there the next day. Ready to hold me together or let me fall apart on you again. The more I use you, the more you change in texture, but stay the same in spirit.

Sometimes out in nature you let me take refuge on you, protecting me from the roughness of the rocks around us. When I achieve a new posture or am able to do something I have never done, trying to show off to you, looking for praise, you lay there, indifferent—reminding me to stay humble, and that what is today might not be tomorrow. Sometimes you make me invite Mr. Block, Mrs. Strap, and Ms. Blanket to our play, diplomatically making me accept that sometimes it’s okay to ask for help and take it. Especially if it is right in front of you!

I carry you with me, like a child carries its favorite stuffed animal. We have traveled around the world together. When I stuffed you into the overhead bin you didn’t complain. When I stuffed you on the top shelf of a busy train, you never disappeared. I call you names and used to even hit you, punching you like a bag, and all I did was hurt myself. I used you as extra armor when I first started and now you have become my close friend. You are not scared when I roar like a lion, filling the room around us with expunged toxins. I am sure you feel how much lighter I am. When I’m approaching my truth during meditation or when I’m listening to my inside through pranayama you lay there quietly. The times I can’t take you with me, I miss you terribly. But I know you will be there when I get back. You might change your color, you usually stay the same size, your character grows but you always foster me with a playground to move around in.

On you, I’ve learned how to let myself feel again. Thank you.
I found my spirit. Home.
Ode to you, my mat!

My yoga mat & I in New Mexico

My yoga mat & I in New Mexico

2015 Note – I wrote this article in Santa Fe, New Mexico a while back. After my morning practice I went to hang out at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and was influenced by all the art; the shapes and emotions made me think about my own.  The shapes I have when doing asana, the emotions I have while practicing, and the one thing that holds me up. My yoga mat! Obviously I was also inspired by Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’. It has been previously published at The Global Yogi.