I’ve always known that my body and my mind are inextricably linked. From being small, worrying about my homework and getting a tummy ache… to later in life when I was anxious, stressed or under the cosh and my skin would become dry and flaky and my hair would turn brittle… the body and the mind are very clever.
Now I know that when my skin is dry that it’s most probably down to something going on my life…so now I take a moment.
I stop, I make myself a cuppa and I sit and I think about what’s going on in my brain and my life. Then I can make changes, sometimes small, sometimes bigger, if I need to, to get me and my skin back on track.
The word Sophrology comes from the Ancient Greek σσσ / SOS (“harmony”), σσσσ / PHREN (“mind”), and -σσσσσ / -LOGOS (“study”) and uniquely combines Western science and Eastern wisdom to help people manage stress, sleep better and discover mindful living. It was cited by Harper’s Bazaar as one of the biggest wellness trends for 2019.
Lead author of ‘The Life Changing Power of Sophrology’, Dominique Antiglio, says: “What we do to our bodies affects our minds, and vice versa. We cannot deal with them as completely separate entities. This is why optimal health depends very much on a whole-body approach, providing the right diet, exercise, sleep patterns and opportunities to relax and de-stress”.
I’ve talked about the huge health benefits of tea before and Dr Ruxton also cites how beneficial tea is in these areas and how tea and Sophrology are a great match as they both influence the whole body through targeting points of stress.
The gentle discipline of Sophrology was developed 60 years ago by Columbian psychiatrist and neurologist, Professor Alfonso Caycedo who combined yoga, meditation, zen and classical relaxation to enable each individual to achieve optimal balance and harmony.
Sophrology expert, Dominique Antiglio explains: “Daily practice is achieved through a unique combination of relaxation, breathing, gentle movement and visualisation. The practice is easy enough to be incorporated into daily life because it doesn’t need any special equipment or much time. The goal is not just to bring a focus to the five body systems but to develop a deeper awareness of our body in consciousness, and to use it to unlock harmony between body, mind and soul.”.
The five body health systems, according to Sophrology, are as follows:
- Head, brain and face
- Neck, throat, shoulders, arms & hands
- Chest, upper back, breasts, heart and lungs
- Stomach and upper digestive system, liver, kidneys, lower back
- Lower abdominal area, bladder, lower digestive tract, sexual organs, pelvic floor, hips, legs and feet
The Tea Advisory Panel (TAP) have written a report on how making a daily brew can help to maintain inner calm and have matched their tea knowledge with Sophrology’s practises, to create the ultimate path to zen, wellbeing and peace.
I’m going to be writing a short series of posts around this, and for now, I want to talk about system number 1!
System 1: Head, brain and face
The amount of screen time we all have (hangs head in shame) daily stresses and lack of sleep (yep, me again – I blame Isabelle) can often contribute to us feeling tense around the eyes, jaw, or overall head and face. (Yes yes YES). The Sophrology approach recommends the following exercise to calm an overactive mind…
Standing, close your eyes and bring your awareness to the first system, the head and face. Notice how the region feels: is it tensed? Relaxed? Warm? Heavy? Exhale through the mouth to empty your lungs, inhale through your nose and hold your breath whilst you slowly rotate your head from right to left and let to right a few time. When you need air, bring your head back in the centre and exhale and let your breath settle. Repeat the exercise being fully aware of the sensations in your head and face as you move and pause and than sit down. This exercise helps to oxygenate the brain, clear tensions around the head and face, enhance a feel of clarity and teach us to discover new body sensations in our first system. Positively grounding in the body with this exercise is a great way to calm an overactive mind.
And how can tea help you do the same?
Tea has been linked with several beneficial effects related to the head and brain – according to the report, 34% of people find drinking black tea to be calming and 32% think a cuppa makes them feel less stressed or anxious.
But how? But why?
Well tea is a rich source of polyphenols (flavonoids which are also in fruits that we eat) and also fluoride, caffeine and an amino acid called L-theanine. I am now getting a bit sciency. Caffeine especially does a number of very clever things. Among them, caffeine helps boost energy and affects the local release of dopamine, which may improve your mood. Caffeine also helps with alertness and vigilance too, as well as a reducing our perception of fatigue and pain.
Experts recommend that drinking around 8 mugs of tea a day would contain moderate amounts of caffeine, around 400mg and so in each mug of black tea there is around 40/50mg caffeine –half the amount found in coffee. (Is that what you expected?)
I really love how this report has combined the discipline of Sophrology with one of the world’s most ancient and favourite beverages. It seems that doing your Sophrology exercise and then having a cuppa could be just the ticket to reducing stress, anxiety and setting us all on a path to inner peace.
How lovely :)
More soon… and in the meantime, I’m off to boil the kettle.
This post is sponsored by the Tea Advisory Panel,
with facts taken from their report on Sophrology.