Please watch the coinciding video to this article, it includes two breath prayers, one from myself and the other from Father Ryan. You’ll see our time chanting and fellowshipping, as well as a couple ‘whole worship flows.’
“Connecting to Christ through breath and posture creates a void where God’s presence resides.
Later, in Déchanet’s Sacred Yoga chapter, he writes, “The spirit is awakened in the first place by the postures…the length of meditation and contemplation are the least of importance, what is most important is the silence, or greater silence, this is the ultimate place, the created void where God’s divine presence resides.”
I correlate this ‘created void’ and ‘ultimate place where God’s divine presence resides,’ as the Secret Place described in the Bible. A sacred place where only God and I dwell. I also parallel it to Patanjali’s’ 7th and 8th Limb. In my Christian Yoga School, YogaFaith, we strive to redeem biblical principles such as meditation, chanting and the postures of prayer found throughout scripture. We long to redeem ecstasy (the 8th limb), a word that seems to have turned dark in recent times, yet God desires the beauty of ecstasy to magnify Him. I believe Déchanet experienced the 8th limb, or ecstasy, as the ultimate place.
“The spirit is awakened in the first place by the postures,” writes Déchanet. In observing Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga, we progress from postures to breath, from breath to the act of withdrawing, then we reach the 6th limb known as Dharana. Dharana is where one might begin the meditation process. It’s where we begin to settle the mind onto a single-focused subject or prayer. After achieving this focus, one can then experience a deeper meditation within the 7th limb known as contemplation, where there is absolutely no distractions or other thoughts, rather a profound reflection on Christ alone. Once this is achieved, one could go deeper yet. Though the 8th limb defines this absorptive and highest state as Samadhi, one doesn’t need to acknowledge the Eight Limbs of Yoga to know that Christ desires oneness with believers. Samadhi is defined as joining, and is also known as ecstasy, the deepest part of meditation, and the highest state one can achieve. Ecstasy as I see it, is oneness with Christ. There is no distinction between your spirit and His Spirit, there is no difference between the meditator and the Meditation, the created and the Creator become one, this is the Secret Place of the most High God.
Journeying recently to Déchanet’s hermitage above the village of Valjouffrey, France, I experienced the Secret Place on more than one occasion. This is profound as I’ve only experienced this a handful of times in my entire life.
I am grateful for experiencing what Déchanet wrote about so many years ago. I am also indebted to Dana Moore, who was not only the first person to shed light on the fact that Christian Yoga has a lineage but to extend an invitation to visit the place it was created. Thank you, Dana, it was a dream come true. I am also immensely grateful for our lovely hosts (and Déchanet’s first students in 1965) Gerard and Madé Charrier.
Almost 6700 students, seekers and gurus traveled near and far over the years to learn from Déchanet. I am humbled, honored and privileged to be a part of the first hermitage in over 30 years to reignite these teachings and the hermitage.
I have deep gratitude to have walked in Déchanet’s footsteps, prayed where he prayed and worshiped with my whole being on the same holy ground as he did all those years ago.
(F-B) DANA M., THOMAS R., KEVIN F., HIKE TO HERMITAGE
HEADSTAND ABOVE VALJOUFFREY
LEFT TO RIGHT; ME WITH DÉCHANET’S FIRST STUDENTS GERARD & MADÉ CHARRIER. READING CHRISTIAN YOGA IN DÉCHANET’S STUDY. INTERIOR OF STUDY. FIRST GROUP PILGRIMAGE IN 30 YEARS INCLUDES (L-R) MICHEL MORIN, FR. THOMAS RYAN, REV. KEVIN FLYNN, DANA MOORE, SUSAN NEAL, JANE SCHMITT, SALLY GRILLO AND MYSELF, MICHELLE THIELEN