Could sophrology be the answer to your stress and anxiety? Find out more about the techniques behind the movement and read our review of a one-to-one session with Dominique Antiglio.
What is sophrology?
Sophrology is a self-development method for good mental health that involves simple exercises. The ultimate goal is an alert, focused mind in a relaxed body. It’s a little bit like meditation, but slightly more physical – known as dynamic relaxation. It’s been big across Switzerland and France since the 1960s, where it’s offered in schools and to sports teams in particular, and is starting to gain traction over here thanks to its combination of simple exercises for body and mind.
What are the benefits of sophrology?
- Helps you tackle stress and anxiety
- Helps to clear and focus the mind
- Releases physical tension from the body
- Helps you live in the present moment
- A good way to prepare for big life events
What happens in a sophrology session?
I tried a sophrology session via Skype with Dominique Antiglio – a sophrologist and author of The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology. The call comes just a few minutes after I’ve done something stupid (deleting years worth of emails by mistake!) so it’s fair to say my stress levels are pretty high.
Dominique tells me that her sessions vary from person to person. Some people check in regularly, while others book a series of meetings in the lead up to an event which is causing them anxiety. Things like job interviews, presentations or anything else you might be stressed about are great opportunities for practising sophrology and learning to release tension from your body, and in turn your mind.
Dominique herself benefited from sophrology as a teenager, when she was going through a period of stress-related exhaustion. It had an almost immediate effect, and was enough to convince her that she should spend her life spreading the word.
Our session involves a bit of chat about my stress levels and what I’m hoping to gain, before we move on to trying some exercises which she guides me through.
I’m told to hold out my thumb straight in front of me, focusing on it fully. We then perform a body scan, moving down the body and tensing and releasing each area in turn, taking note of how they feel. We then spend some time, eyes shut and relaxed, envisioning something good – whether it’s a place that makes you happy or a projection of how you’d like an event to go in the future.
My favourite exercise – the mini pump – is performing standing up. You ball your hands into fists, scrunch up your face, and rapidly pump your shoulders up and down several times, before releasing all tension.
The exercises are also recorded and sent over to me for future use.
Does sophrology work?
I’ve often tried meditation in the past, but found it very difficult to clear my mind, and sometimes worried about whether I was doing it ‘right’. Sophrology really appeals to me as something that starts in the physical and moves to the mental. Once my shoulders are down and my stomach is unclenched, it’s much easier to progress to the mind exercises.