Spiritual Perspectives in Education – Breathing

By Chrystal Hayn

As the Soul – Spirit and Physical – Life aspects of the human being are drawn together through education, we come to the boundary between the spiritual and the physical which is the area of breathing. Taking a breath is the first thing we do in life and the last thing we do as we die. The first and last breaths have a certain focus, drama, tension and deep and momentous mystery to them: That relief as the baby gives its first cry and breathing and life now fully begin! That moment of tension and release as the last breath is taken and the soul leaves our body as we die.

Breathing connects us with our blood and circulation and via this we connect to our metabolism. This is one perspective of the process of breathing taking place within the human being. Another perspective is the connection to our nerve sense organisation. The harmony and rhythm needed for healthy breathing is not necessarily simply there. Through education and good life style the child or young person needs help to establish balanced and harmonious breathing rhythms.

Rudolf Steiner tells us that the true function of Education is to establish authentic harmonious and right breathing! He tells us that we can achieve this by bringing the Soul – Spirit and the Life – Physical into a real and living relationship with each other and of course he then builds up a complete curriculum based on this tenet of breathing.We are not talking here only of the physical activity of breathing, but as stated above; the focus on the drawing into life of the Spirit – Soul and the bringing towards these two elements, the Life – Physical as described by Steiner in the first lecture of The Foundations of Human Experience.

‘By harmonising the breathing with the nerve-sense process we draw all that is soul and spirit into the physical life of the child. To express it roughly we may say: The child cannot yet breathe in the right inner way, and education will have to consist in teaching the child to breathe rightly.’

Rudolf Steiner: The Study of Man / The Foundations of Human Experience. Lecture 1, paragraph 13.

Today in our present crisis we can surely draw much from this stand point, not just for the education of the child, but for all of our teaching, ways of living and conducting ourselves generally. I personally am endeavouring to take this question into my preparation for the young people with special needs whom I teach, into the preparation of public classes that I hold, for tutoring and teaching students in India who are doing the eurythmy training, into the work of facilitating meetings, into supervision sessions or bringing eurythmy to the working environment. Handling the balance between deadlines and outcomes and allowing for real process is all part and parcel of gaining capacity and skill at addressing the human being in specific and conscious ways.


Chrystal Hayn studied Waldorf Education in Stuttgart in the 80’s and after class teaching for 7 years trained in Eurythmy at the Ringwood Botton Eurythmy School with Chas Bamford, Monica Dorrington and Evamaria Rascher. She went on to be part of many national and international performing projects with the Botton Stage Group, Eskdale Eurythmy, Peredur Stage Group and London Eurythmy over 22 years, working mainly with Hajo Deker. She taught courses at the London College Of Eurythmy and workshops at Steiner House for several years and is part of the Foundation Stone Meditation performing work with London Eurythmy. She lives and works at The Mount Camphill Community, where she also teaches young people with special needs at the Mount Independent Specialist Residential College. The College is local authority funded and has a ‘Good rating’ with CQC and Ofsted.

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