Sophrology is a relaxation method that’s sometimes referred to as hypnosis, psychotherapy, or a complementary therapy.

Sophrology was created in the 1960s by Alfonso Caycedo, a Colombian neuropsychiatrist who studied human consciousness. The technique is based on a blend of Eastern and Western philosophies rooted in yoga, Buddhist meditation, and Japanese Zen.

Sophrology uses techniques such as:

Sophrology encourages personal development and teaches you to slow down, take it easy, and relax into being. It can help with the stresses and challenges of everyday life along with business, creative, and athletic endeavors.

Plenty of anecdotal evidence supports the benefits of sophrology. Practitioners report feeling more peaceful, confident, and happy.

Sophrology practices are also used for:

  • managing pain
  • combating overthinking, especially receptive worrisome or troubling thoughts
  • feeling less stress and anxiety
  • better concentration
  • sleeping more deeply

There’s some scientific evidence to support the benefits of sophrology. Here’s a look at what some of the recent research says.

Coping with pain and anxiety

Sophrology techniques may be useful during medical procedures that cause stress and discomfort.

In a small 2018 study with 60 participants, people with cancer used sophrology and hypnosis techniques during interventional radiology procedures.

The group who engaged in relaxing therapies showed a significant reduction in anxiety and pain levels. This was in comparison to their levels before the procedure and to the control group who received no treatments.

The participants were guided to focus on their breath and positive memories to generate a relaxed mental state of hypnosis.

Wellness during pregnancy

Sophrology practices can benefit women who are pregnant and their newborns.

A 2019 study concluded that a type of sophrology childbirth training that included respiratory, Kegel, and Lamaze techniques had a positive effect on:

  • maternal health
  • pelvic floor function
  • quality of life

The women had a better vaginal delivery rate and lower levels of postpartum urinary incontinence and hemorrhages.

The newborns of mothers who did the sophrology therapy had higher Apgar scores and body weights compared with the control group.

While these results are promising, further research on the effects of sophrology on its own is needed.

You can do sophrology on your own or with a qualified sophrologist. A sophrologist will guide you through some simple exercises and techniques that make up the 12 levels of sophrology.

A typical session consists of breathwork, muscular relaxation, and visualization techniques. You can also use gentle movements.

Usually, these exercises involve:

  • bringing awareness to different parts of your body
  • tensing your muscles and releasing them
  • bringing awareness to sensations or feelings you’re experiencing

A sophrologist can individualize your instruction to improve a specific area of your life. This could include:

  • enhancing concentration during creative tasks
  • maintaining a relaxed attitude in your relationships
  • furthering your education

How to find a sophrologist

To find a sophrologist in your area, check out the International Sophrology Federation website. If you’re unable to find someone nearby, many sophrologists are available for phone sessions. There are plenty of explanatory videos online, and you can also pick up a copy of “The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology” by Dominque Antiglio.

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You can try out some of these exercises on your own.

Peacefully drift to sleep

You can use sophrology to sleep better. While lying in bed preparing to fall asleep, become aware of:

  • the position of your body
  • the meeting points between your body and the mattress
  • the places on your skin that are touching your clothing or sheets
  • each sensation that arises in your body

Release tension

  1. Scan your body and notice where you’re holding on to tension.
  2. Focus on letting go of any tightness.
  3. Next, tense your entire body by tightening all of your muscles.
  4. On an exhale, release the tension.
  5. Visualize all of the tension moving out of your body in the form of a dark color, bubble, or cloud.

Control your breath

  1. Place your hands on your belly and follow each breath as it moves through your body.
  2. Follow each breath as it enters and leaves through your nostrils. Feel your belly rise and expand against your hand as you inhale and move toward your spine as you exhale.
  3. Maintain equal count breathing by making each inhale the same length as the exhale.
  4. Slowly start to add one count to the exhale until it’s a maximum of twice the length of the inhale.

Feel peace, love, and joy

  1. Bring to mind a time when you felt complete joy.
  2. Cultivate this feeling of peace and happiness. Allow it to wash over your entire being.
  3. Each time your mind wanders, bring it back to this feeling of love, joy, or pleasure.

Visualize and feel the senses

  1. Envision yourself in your favorite place. What does it look like here?
  2. Use all of your senses as you bring this place to mind. What does the air feel like on your skin? What scents can you smell? Imagine all that you’re experiencing. Bring each smell, taste, or sound to mind one at a time.
  3. As you inhale, imagine that you’re breathing in waves of serenity. As you exhale, allow these feelings to move all over your body.

Take small breaks

  1. Tune in to your body, breath, and mind throughout the day.
  2. Once every hour, take about a minute to focus on breathing deeply and scanning your body for any tension.
  3. Check in with your thoughts and gently guide yourself back to the present moment.
  4. Each time your mind wanders, bring it back to a point of present-moment focus. This can include following your breath, hearing the sounds around you, or noticing sensations in your body.

Building this awareness is useful in your daily life since you’re able to focus on and cultivate these tangible, physical feelings of peace and serenity as you go about your day.

Practice with others and on your own

While you can learn and practice sophrology on your own, a sophrologist can help you go deeper.

And even if you’re meeting with a teacher, you’ll have to put in the work on your own if you want to see the benefits of sophrology.

Practice consistently

To see results, practice daily. Consider setting an alarm to remind yourself to check in with yourself and make time for your practice.

Focus intentions

Sophrology can help with numerous things in your life, but you may find it useful to narrow down your focus. Choose a maximum of three things you’d like to work on or improve, and set intentions accordingly.

Create comfortable space

During longer sessions, choose a setting that’s quiet and free of distractions. To ensure comfort in your body, use pillows and blankets to make yourself at ease.

You can do sophrology in as little as 15 minutes per day. If the practice appeals to your quest for inner stillness, make sophrology a regular part of your routine. Try out the technique for at least a few weeks. This gives you time to see what effect the practice has on your well-being.

It’s better to dive deeply into one practice instead of bouncing back and forth between different techniques.

Dedication and perseverance are important aspects of any self-growth practice. Remember that it may not all be a bed of roses; a few thorns may prick you on your journey, but it’s all part of the process.

Enjoy the process of inner reflection and the chance to step back from the constant stimulation of modern life.

If you feel you need assistance beyond what this practice is providing, reach out to a qualified mental health professional.