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Have you heard of Sophrology – the popular therapy that’s sweeping across Europe?

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:09 22 September 2020

Sophrology consists of a blend of gentle movements taken from yoga, combined with breathing and visualisation exercises, and punctuated by brief moments of meditation Picture: Helena Lyons

Sophrology consists of a blend of gentle movements taken from yoga, combined with breathing and visualisation exercises, and punctuated by brief moments of meditation Picture: Helena Lyons

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Ipswich therapist Helena Lyons explains the benefits of Sophrology – and how it’s helped her in a Covid-19 world.

Helena is seeing clients online at the moment due to Covid, and this is proving an effective way of working Picture: Helena LyonsHelena is seeing clients online at the moment due to Covid, and this is proving an effective way of working Picture: Helena Lyons

With growing numbers of people turning to alternative therapies, one Suffolk woman has become the first professional sophrologist in Suffolk. But what exactly is it, and how did Ipswich resident Helena Lyons become a practitioner?

Sophrology is a therapy that was created in the 1960s by Colombian neurologist and psychiatrist Dr Alfonso Caycedo, as a result of working with traumatised men returning from war. Combining Western practices with Eastern philosophies, it is widely prescribed for a range of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing ailments. The name ‘sophrology’ stems from the Greek for ‘the science of consciousness in harmony’.

It works by utilising a blend of gentle movements, breathwork, relaxation, meditation, visualisation and hypnosis, and can be practised by people all ages, regardless of health. Sophrology encourages those who practice it to take life slow and learn to relax. Some of its most common applications include pain management, energy levels, chronic conditions, stress management and life challenges such as bereavement.

“Where we have mindfulness in this country, Europe has sophrology – it’s everywhere,” explained Helena. So widespread, sophrology is also used by a handful of professional sportspeople on the continent, including the French rugby team and Swiss Olympic athletes. Further afield, it is also commonly used as a popular relaxation method during childbirth in Japan.

Sophrology, which is widely popular across Europe and Japan, blends Western practices with Eastern philosophies Picture: Helena LyonsSophrology, which is widely popular across Europe and Japan, blends Western practices with Eastern philosophies Picture: Helena Lyons

“Its range of applications is enormous. With just a few minutes of practice a day, you can quickly begin to see a real difference in your wellbeing, energy and positivity. It helps us to be at our best and cope with what life throws at us – something we know all about in 2020.”

Mum-of-three Helena, who was raised in Ipswich and returned to the town a decade ago, previously worked as a professional actor.

It was in 2017 when she experienced a rough patch of physical and mental ill-health before encountering the European therapy – which she claims has become a key part in her successful recovery from chronic dizziness, migraines, tinnitus, back pain and anxiety.

“I felt like I had fallen apart, and sophrology stitched me gently back together.”

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Following on from her recovery, Helena went on to train to become a fully-qualified sophrology practitioner – and is now introducing the therapy to Suffolk at what she believes is the perfect time.

“I believe I am the only sophrologist in the region at the moment, and it is very exciting to be at the forefront of bringing this wonderful method to my home community.

“This is a time when many people are experiencing high levels of anxiety and stress – which often comes with a host of physical symptoms. We’ve lived through six months of intense upheaval and challenges, and there’s no sign of it ending yet. It’s turning into a marathon, not a sprint, and we are all going to need to be strong and resilient to cope with what still lies ahead.”

Coming from a family of key workers, with her husband working for the NHS, Helena has witnessed first-hand the stress the pandemic has caused, and has used sophrology with her husband to help him cope with life on the frontline.

“There is a very real risk of burn-out amongst key worker staff. These are stressful jobs at the best of times, but Covid has magnified that stress hugely. It has been a very challenging time, but sophrology has helped my husband and I keep our balance and stay strong.”

Such a believer in the power of sophrology, Helena hopes the UK will soon catch on to its healing effects and it will eventually make its way into the NHS - much in the way that mindfulness has over the years.

“It has so much to offer in terms of preventing illness and maintaining good health, as well as helping to restore wellbeing and balance when we face challenges.”

Helena, who is setting up her sophrology practice both online and in Ipswich, is looking forward to supporting children, teenagers and adults of all ages.

“Suffolk has been my home for most of my life, and I feel passionately about supporting the wellbeing of my community, especially during such a difficult time for us all.”

To find out more about Helena and sophrology, visit www.sophrowisdom.co.uk


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