Fall into Winter 2022
Breathing is part of life, right? It delivers oxygen into your bloodstream and helps remove carbon dioxide. So far, so good. But breathwork, or deep breathing, is a long way from our normal in and out breathing where minimal or no effort is involved. It involves the entire body, your chest and diaphragm, your tummy, your back and importantly your mind.
Many of us breathe ineffectively, and stress and anxiety can further impinge on our breathing as stress leads to tension, which leads to restricted breathing, reduced oxygen, increased carbon dioxide and more stress on the body. It’s a vicious circle.
With more of us working from home over the recent past, our posture has also suffered. Bad posture also restricts your breathing, and as your body becomes aware of this, it creates more stress within the body.
However, the good news is that the physical benefits of deep breathing are immediate; your heart rate slows, so does your blood pressure, neck and chest muscles relax and your body can absorb more oxygen into vital cells and organs.
Add to that a combination of increased body awareness, and gentle movements and you have something called sophrology, created more than 40 years ago by Spanish neuropsychiatrist Professor Alfonso Caycedo, who was searching for an effective way to help traumatised victims of the Spanish Civil War. After travelling to the Far East to study zen and yoga techniques, Professor Caycedo began to develop a technique known as sophropolgy, which aims to harmonise the body and the mind.
‘Sophrology is a guided practice for the mind and body,’ explains Dominique Antiglio, author of The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology. ‘Using breathing techniques, gentle movement, relaxation and visualisation, a sophrologist will take you through a simple sequence of exercises helping you to connect with a sense of calm.’ The technique helps to create space between your feelings and your reactions, allowing you to distance yourself from negative thoughts and experiences.
This wellness trend is widely used in European hospitals, offered on maternity wards and to those being treated for sleep disorders as a way of reducing stress. ‘You are learning to tap into your inner resources to help you sleep better, deal positively with emotions, overcome anxiety or prepare for big events like exams, surgery, childbirth or a competition. You can also use sophrology to cultivate a sense of wellbeing, balance and positivity in your daily life,’ Dominique explains.