WHAT IS SOPHROLOGY?
If you are not familiar with the term Sophrology, it is also called ‘dynamic relaxation’, meaning it integrates movement, breathing and visualisation, differentiating it from other forms of mindfulness.
Sophrology is unique in its approach as it blends Eastern philosophies with Western science.
It has been used for several decades in Continental Europe to reduce stress and anxiety, improve the quality of sleep and, as a personal development technique, help people unlock their talents and strengths allowing a deep transformation.
Professor Caycedo, a Spanish neuropsychiatrist, founded Sophrology in 1960 as an alternative to more invasive treatments such as electroshock and insulin-induced comas for his mental health patients. Professor Caycedo not only had a wealth of experience and understanding of neuropsychiatry, but through his life embarked on an amazing journey of self-discovery studying Greek philosophy, phenomenology and autogenic training, as well as travelling to India, Tibet and Japan to study yoga, Zen and Buddhism.
Professor Caycedo was a true pioneer and he coined the term Sophrology, which means ‘the science of consciousness in harmony’, from Greek roots: harmony (Sos), consciousness (Phren) and study or science (Logos).
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT SOPHROLOGY?
- You only need to practise 10 – 15 mins a day, anywhere, anytime to start feeling relaxed, balanced and able to cope with anything life throws at you
- Intuitive, easy to follow exercises
- Useful for stress, anxiety, problems sleeping and for finding focus and drive
- It builds awareness of mind and body to build a more positive future
WHY DOES SOPHROLOGY WORK?
Sophrology comprises some key components to achieve balance of mind and body. Each component of the Sophrology practice has a specific role to play on the mind or the body, and has a specific impact on our physiology:
- Relaxation stimulates alpha brain waves, allows recuperation and gives us access to another level of awareness where emotional and psychological transformation are strongly supported.
- Breathing, acting on the autonomic nervous system (body functions), oxygenating the body and supporting the mind-body connection.
- Mindful movement for improving focus, letting go of stress and tension, and balancing the somatic nervous system.
- Visualisation is instrumental to reframe our experiences by tapping into the brain’s neuroplasticity (creative mind).
- Meditation has a beneficial effect on hormones and neurotransmitters (lowers cortisol and increases serotonin) and boosts immunity and regulates body functions, ultimately allowing us to appreciate life more by teaching us to go beyond the mind’s chatter to find a deeper appreciation of existence.
HOW IS SOPHROLOGY USED IN DAILY LIFE?
We don’t necessarily have to accept that stress and tensions are part and parcel of daily life. Professor Caycedo developed specific Sophrology protocols to help with the issues of modern life making it an efficient therapeutic tool to help people suffering from stress, anxiety, insomnia, lack of confidence, phobias, weight issues or preparing for important life events, like birth, exams or expatriation.
Through Sophrology we can learn to manage our emotions without being ruled by them so we can face any challenge that life throws at us.
From its strictly clinical applications, Sophrology’s remit expanded beyond Spain where it started, to find popularity in France, Switzerland, and Belgium, in different fields such as education, sport, corporate and social environments.
For the past 30 years Sophrology has even been reimbursed by Swiss health insurance policies.
Currently, through the work of Dominique Antiglio, acclaimed Sophrologist, author of best-selling book “The Life-changing Power of Sophrology”, and Founder of leading Sophrology platform BeSophro, Sophrology is spreading from Continental Europe to the UK and beyond.
Over time, Sophrology has found application in several fields:
- Stress management, proving to be a gentle and effective technique that is easy to learn and put into practice even when on-the-go, making it the perfect support for a busy lifestyle.
- Corporate wellness, as a useful aid to increase employee productivity, decrease anxiety, prevent burn out and support a healthy lifestyle.
- Alongside allopathic medicine, many European hospitals use Sophrology, from maternity units and IVF clinics to sleep clinics and palliative care.
- Sport and education, as an aid to boost confidence in both children and adults, for example to prepare for sports competition and exams, ultimately supporting an individual’s untapped potential.
EXPLORING THE SCIENCE BEHIND SOPHROLOGY
To study the effectiveness of Sophrology, experts have completed prospective controlled studies using tools such as psychometric tests and taking groups of participants through stress-management and sleep Sophrology programmes to manage professional and personal stress.
In Spain, a study from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Sofrocay, Academy for Caycedian Sophrology, under the direction of Dr. Koen van Rangelrooij, Dr. Natalia Caycedo and Dr. Antonio Bulbena measured the impact of Sophrology for people suffering from anxiety and depression. It showed that Sophrology helped to significantly reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, and improved the overall mood in participants. Using psychometric tests and a controlled group who was just receiving theoretical information, the intervention group received 12 Sophrology sessions over 4 weeks (3 hours a week).
From the same centre in Barcelona, the same team led another study (prospective and comparative) on symptoms of chronic insomnia. It was conducted on 70 patients showing an improved sleep quality after just 5 weeks of practice and even better results after 3 and 6 months.
France has produced many studies on Sophrology. Notably a 2000 report from the sleep hospital Hôtel-Dieu in Paris found that Sophrology is an effective treatment for chronic insomnia, with patients showing a marked reduction in anxiety and depression. Another study from 2009 by the same institute showed that Sophrology helped to improve acute respiratory problems in adult patients, reducing pain and discomfort, and lowering patients’ heart rate and blood pressure.
A 2020 study in France showed that the majority of 140 patients suffering from tinnitus reported a reduced intrusiveness of their condition after practising between 6 and 8 Sophrology sessions over the course of 2-4 months.
Researchers also found Sophrology to be effective in children: for example, children suffering from asthma experienced an improvement in their breathing and oxygenation levels after practising Sophrology alongside receiving standard treatment.
The Institut Curie in France regularly offers Sophrology sessions to cancer patients to help them with their recovery. Patients have reported having fewer or milder side effects such as nausea and fatigue from invasive chemotherapy or radiotherapy and a better quality of life. Visualisation exercises help patients to relax, manage difficult emotions and give them reassurance.
If you practise Sophrology regularly, for as little as 10-15 min a day, you will rapidly notice how you are able to find a sense of calm and achieve a state of balance in daily life. The genius of Caycedo is to have created a simple and accessible way for everyone to unveil consciousness in a world that more than ever asks us to take responsibility for our mental and physical well-being. Beyond the stress-management and self-development tools, the aim of Sophrology is to experience life with a renewed sense of vitality and awareness, and positively transform consciousness to create a meaningful existence.
If you are interested in starting your Sophrology journey, you can access a whole range of Sophrology practises online at besophro.com which are suitable for anyone.