Christian Yoga: The Lost Teachings of Jean-Marie Déchanet, O.S.B.
Teaching #1 “First, learn to breathe.”
In the book of Genesis God “breathed into” Adam and Eve making them living beings. Before Jesus ascended to heaven he “breathed” upon his friends giving them the Holy Spirit. Informed by these scriptures Déchanet invites us to begin yoga by establishing a relationship with our breath.
Lie down in a relaxed position on a soft rug or mat or even on your bed. Place a thick pillow under your knees and a thin one under your head—whatever helps your body to feel supported and allows your muscles to relax. For the exercise create a time boundary for yourself by setting a timer for three minutes or, if you wish, leave the timer out and give yourself all the time you want. Tell yourself you are going to focus your attention on your breathing. Let go of all thoughts associated with your life. Simply notice that you are breathing. Observe the rising and falling of your belly or chest as the breath enters and leaves your body. Notice if your breath is flowing smoothly or hesitates. Become aware of the transitions and slight pauses between the in-breath and the out-breath and between out-breath and the in-breath. Simply be aware of the breath flowing into your body as oxygen is absorbed by your lungs. Simply beware of the breath as it flows out of your body returning to the air around you. Release muscle tension throughout your body, especially in your face. Be aware of nothing, except that you are breathing and that you are alive.