The house is a mess, social media is no longer relaxing and your BFF just asked you to plan her baby shower. In other words? You’re stressed AF. But if you’ve tried mindfulness meditation, yoga and breathwork to no avail, then maybe sophrology could help. We tapped certified sophrologist Niamh Lyons to find out more about this buzzy self-development technique.
OK, what is it? “Sophrology is a structured method of exercises that promote physical and mental well-being,” Lyons tells us. “It combines breathing techniques, guided meditation, mindfulness, visualization, phenomenology and gentle movement. It is not a hands-on therapy, meaning that it can be done anywhere and doesn’t require special clothing or equipment.” Well, now we’re definitely intrigued.
Why haven’t I heard about this before? Because it’s still relatively under-the-radar in the United States. But in Switzerland and France it’s actually offered to students at school or university as a way to learn stress-management skills and get ready for exams. And work-life balance guru Arianna Huffington is a big fan, so don’t be surprised if your local yoga studio starts offering sessions soon. (Hey, self-care is trendier than ever.)
And why try it? “When you run, at some point you need to stop and rest the body—the mind is the same,” Lyons explains. Sophrology is basically a way to experience a deep state of relaxation. And by aiding relaxation, it can also help you manage stress, sleep better, be more confident (Lyons has used this method to help clients improve their public speaking skills) and have a more positive outlook.
So how can I try it? For your first session, you’ll want to work with a certified sophrologist who will assess your needs before talking you through physical and mental exercises tailored to you. During the session, you’ll sit or stand with your eyes closed as you are guided through a series of techniques like tensing and releasing each part of the body or different breathing exercises.
Then, go out and use what you’ve learned to live your best, most relaxed life. (There are also group sessions where you’ll learn the basics of sophrology so you can apply them to your daily routine.) Ahh, so chill.