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Health & Fitness Sophrology Is Set To Be The Next Big Wellness Trend, But What Is It?

14:17  15 march  2018
14:17  15 march  2018 Source:   refinery29.com

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But what was it ? Mindfulness? Meditation? The practice is set to expand in the UK. Swiss sophrology teacher Dominique Antiglio has just written a comprehensive English-language book, including audio, for home practice: The Life-Changing Power Of Sophrology .

But what exactly is sophrology , and what are its benefits? But if it ’s used effectively by everyone from women in labour to Olympic athletes, it can only be a matter of time before sophrology enters our wellness lexicon.

Woman getting head massage © Catalyst Images Woman getting head massage A couple of years back, after an unexpected and gut-wrenching break-up, I was all over the place – so I threw myself into my yoga practice in the hope of regaining some equilibrium. One day I saw a flyer on the noticeboard at the yoga studio. “Reduce stress and manage emotions,” it said. “Detach and refocus. Instil calm.” Oh yes please, I thought. But what was it? Mindfulness? Meditation? Buddhist chanting? No. Sophrology.

Soph-what? “Almost nobody knows about sophrology in the UK,” said Francoise Falaise, a Belgian who would become my sophrology teacher. “There are thousands of practitioners on the continent, but it’s still just beginning here.” The intention of our first session together, she said, would be "to take distance from tensions and refocus".

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Sophrology is the latest wellness trend busting your stress one breathing technique at a time. Sophrology is big news in the wellness world. It can be tailored for individual needs but also practiced in groups.

Now, the trend is rapidly migrating to Britain. With so many of us are living such frazzled lives, the global wellness industry is now worth £2.6tn. Sophrology looks set to be the next buzzword answer to all our problems – until another solution comes along, at least.

And so we began our sessions, meeting weekly. Some very simple breathing exercises and gentle body movement were followed by a guided meditation where I lay on the floor and Francoise talked me through a relaxing journey of letting go. It was very nice but so subtle I wondered if I was missing something. I did feel very calm afterwards, though.

a person standing on a sidewalk: Refinery29 © photographed by Meg O'Donnell. Refinery29

The objective of the next session was to “install detachment”. We did neck exercises – with mindful breathing, I gently shook my head to say ‘no’ to negative emotions and nodded to say ‘yes’ to detachment. It felt a bit weird, but fine. I exhaled negativity and breathed in detachment, followed by more exercises to reinforce assertiveness (mindful breathing while stretching and reaching upwards) and a ‘virtual walk’ where I walked on the spot, visualising my capacity to walk away from emotional upset in a controlled way.

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Sophrology is a self-development approach, a practice and a philosophy. Its aim is to build resilience through better awareness. Sophrology Is Set To Be The Next Big Wellness Trend , But What Is It ?

But, if your stress levels are still through the roof (trust us, you're not alone) and none of the above are for you, then there's a brand spanking new wellness trend on the block What Is Sophrology ? Sophrology can help with a number of things that may be affecting our daily life. Sleep is a big one

Afterwards I did feel curiously detached. Francoise said that in order for these feelings to become integrated within me, I needed to do the exercises at home too, so that they became part of my daily routine. Luckily they were very simple and didn’t take long. It felt like the subtle installation of a sort of time delay between feelings and my reactions to them – almost like a body-based cognitive behavioural therapy.

After a few more sessions, Francoise moved to Panama City and I got on with my yoga, my busted heart taped back together with sophrology and vinyasa flow.

Person meditating © Catalyst Images Person meditating

The practice is set to expand in the UK. Swiss sophrology teacher Dominique Antiglio has just written a comprehensive English-language book, including audio, for home practice: The Life-Changing Power Of Sophrology. She has a practice in Mayfair, London.

“There are dozens of titles in French,” she says. “Sophrology for athletes, the corporate world, sleeping, pregnancy, midwifery..."

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Just when you think you’re putting the “well” in “ wellness ,” another trend comes along to put your game to shame. Though it ’s all the buzz in American wellness circles, sophrology is nothing new — it ’s been popular in European countries, like France and Switzerland, for decades.

What is sophrology ? Sophrology is a structured method created to produce optimal health and well- being . It consists of a series of easy-to-do physical and mental exercises that, when practiced regularly, lead to a healthy, relaxed body and a calm, alert mind.

The founder of sophrology, Alfonso Caycedo, travelled around China, Tibet and India, distilling the teachings of yoga, meditation and Buddhism, and translating them for the West. It’s access to consciousness for everyone, without having to spend years meditating or standing on your head. It’s a simple, powerful technique. Having said that, there are 12 levels of sophrology, so you can go as deeply into it as you wish.

Antiglio explains: “The key differentiator between sophrology and mindfulness or meditation is the ability to take control of how we handle situations and feel about outcomes – one of the principles in sophrology states that we can decide how we are going to experience certain events even when we can't change them.

People practicing yoga © Catalyst Images People practicing yoga

“We are therefore responsible for our experience and how we respond to situations. It is more dynamic than meditation and uses a number of techniques including breathing, relaxation, body awareness and visualisation to help you connect with your resilience and improve your mental and physical health.”

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News but not as you know it . It also promotes ‘comfort, mindfulness, builds assertiveness, helps with overcoming fear, builds confidence, lets you be playful and teaches you to set boundaries’. Advertisement. Must read. What's trending now. More trending stories ».

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Irish sophrologist Niamh Borrel used the practice to help with chronic pain. “The main difference between sophrology and other methods is that you can reach a deep level of zen state much quicker – sometimes even in one session, depending on the individual,” she says. “We call this the sophroliminal level of consciousness. The beauty of sophrology is that you can do it anywhere. There is no need for special gear. You can do it sitting down, standing up or lying down.

“It can be easily used by someone in a hospital bed about to go into surgery, or by someone just sitting enjoying the present moment on a train, or by athletes using it to increase mental focus, or ballerinas and gymnasts. Or even parents dealing with a stressful day at work, and later on with hyperactive kids at home.”

So there you have it. It’s not yoga, it’s not mindfulness, it’s not meditation, it’s not T’ai Chi – and it’s not yet established in the English-speaking world. But if it’s used effectively by everyone from women in labour to Olympic athletes, it can only be a matter of time before sophrology enters our wellness lexicon.

Woman enjoying the scenery © Catalyst Images Woman enjoying the scenery

6 things to know about sophrology

1. The term comes from the Greek ‘sos’ (harmony) and ‘phren’ (mind).

2. It was founded around 1960 by Colombian neuropsychiatrist, Alfonso Caycedo at the University of Madrid. He combined various influences – hypnosis, Western relaxation methods, Japanese zen, yoga, and Buddhist meditation – to treat depression, and war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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3. Unlike traditional talking therapies, sophrology is not about discussing the narrative of your life; it’s about zooming out, and creating a space between your inner emotional balance and any difficult feelings. You don’t suppress your feelings but consciously let them go and redirect them, using physical movement and breath work.

4. Sophrology is currently used by the French rugby team, its uses within sports psychology discovered when the Swiss ski team won lots of medals at the Grenoble Winter Olympics in 1968 after being coached by sophrologist Dr. Raymond Abrezol.

5. As well as being used to help treat sleep disorders and in preparing for birth, sophrology may also have benefits for sufferers of stage fright and exam nerves.

6. Such is its popularity in France and Switzerland that sophrology is routinely covered by health insurance; it is even taught in schools, to help kids manage the rigours of adolescence.

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