Yoga and Phosphenism


From the sankrit yuj (union) which gave the english word “yoke”, yoga appeared at least 5,000 years ago in northwestern India, as testified by ancient coins representing a yogi sitting in the lotus position.

Written between the 2nd and the 3rd century AD by Patanjali, the Yoga Sutras constitute the basic reference manual of yoga. The Yoga Sutras specify the eight precepts that govern the practice of yoga:

Patanjali’s ancient yoga (also called Raja Yoga) is opposed to the more recent yoga of Swatmarama (or Hatha Yoga), developed during the 15th century AD. Their opposition is mainly due to the fact that Hatha Yoga concentrates on the purification of the body, leading to the purification of the soul. In the case of Raja Yoga, the process is reversed: it is the work of the mind that produces the energy that generates the postures. We can thus say that Raja Yoga is a yoga of the mind, when Hatha Yoga is a yoga of the body.

Consequently, we will focus our study on Raja Yoga, the mental form of yoga. We will study this form of yoga in the light of the discoveries in cerebral physiology of Doctor Francis Lefebure, a French physician and scientist who, thanks to the systematic use of the phosphenes, designed a protocol of exploration of the brain: cerebroscopy. The phosphenes are all the subjective sensations of light, i.e. those which are not directly produced by light stimulating the retina. They can be produced by focusing on a source of light for a short period of time. Cerebroscopy allowed Dr Lefebure to measure precisely the effect of the exercises of yoga on the brain and to establish laws of cerebral physiology applied to initiation, thus creating a scientifically improved yoga: Phosphenism.

Dr Lefebure demonstrated that the phosphene is a reversal of the sense of sight towards the inside, the same way the acouphene is a reversal of the sense of audition towards the inside. In fact, to each physical sense corresponds an inner sense, forming together a second sensory system: the phenic system. Mixing a thought with a phene is the basic exercise of Phosphenism. We believe this constitutes the true meaning of Pratyahara or reversal of sensory activity towards the inside. There is also a phene related to breathing, the pneumophene, that can be stimulated by maintaining a slight “thirst for air”.

An exercise of rhythmic breathing: square breathing

This value of 6 seconds is only a guideline, other values can be used, depending on the capacity of one’s lungs. It is the precise regularity of the phases that is important.

Circular breathing

Similar to square breathing, circular breathing does not, however, contain phases of retention. It is a kind of square breathing which angles would have been rounded off.

The value of 4 seconds is only a guideline, other values can be used, depending on the capacity of your lungs.

Nevertheless, we advise you to start practicing with these values as increasing the length of the phases is not the purpose of this exercise. The purpose of this exercise is to breathe with a slight lack of air.