Skip to main content

Finish 2024 strong with our '6 Months to Overcoming MS' course

Get started
Audrey Zannese

S5E38 Sophrology for MS with Audrey Zannese

Listen to S5E38: Sophrology for MS with Audrey Zannese


Welcome to Living Well with MS, where we are pleased to welcome Audrey Zannese as our guest! Audrey is a mindfulness expert living with MS and specialises in the relaxation method, sophrology. This practice has helped her to live well with MS. She talks to Geoff about her MS journey, what sophrology is and the research behind it. At the end of the episode, Audrey gives a guided sophrology practice.

Watch this episode on YouTube here. Keep reading for the key episode takeaways.

Topics and Timestamps

01:19 Audrey’s MS journey.

05:25 Managing stress.

08:19 The origins of sophrology.

11:22 The aims and benefits of sophrology.

14:00 Audrey’s switch from research scientist to sophrologist.

18:43 The research into the positive effects of sophrology.

22:25 Guided sophrology practice.

Selected Key Takeaways

Sophrology is a stress-reduction technique.

06:14 “Sophrology is a uniquely structured mind-body practice that combines both Western relaxation methods and Eastern meditative practices. It can be used for personal development, enhancing performance, but also for improving health and well-being. It includes a variety of exercises that are accessible and easy to incorporate into your daily life. There are gentle body movements, breathing exercises [and] aspects of mindfulness and meditation.”

The aims and benefits of sophrology practice.

11:22 “The aim of sophrology is to help you reconnect with yourself. Self-awareness of how you’re feeling inside helps you build the capacity to regulate your internal state but also builds the capacity as you would find in mindfulness and meditation of acceptance and letting go when things cannot be changed. Through this work, as it is repetitive and very much a practice, you get to a place where you are feeling balanced in terms of your mind, body, and emotions.”

Sophrology is a big part of how Audrey lives well with MS.

15:04 “I remember one day I came out of my flat, and I was so happy to be alive. I didn’t feel [my] MS anymore. I wasn’t scared, I knew I had everything in me to live my best life, in a way I had never been [able to] before when I was healthy. When I look back, I look with compassion, but I realise that through this journey, what it was to be happy.”

Want to learn more about living a full and happy life with multiple sclerosis? Sign up to our newsletter to hear our latest tips.


Read the episode transcript here

Overcoming MS  00:01

Welcome to Living well with MS. This podcast comes to you from Overcoming MS, the world’s leading multiple sclerosis healthy lifestyle charity, which helps people live a full and healthy life through the Overcoming MS program. We interview a range of experts and people with multiple sclerosis. Please remember, all opinions expressed are their own. Don’t forget to subscribe to living well with MS on your favorite podcast platform so you never miss an episode. And now, let’s meet our guest.

Geoff Allix  00:33

Welcome to the latest edition of the Living Well with MS podcast. Today we’re talking about sophrology for MS with Audrey Zannese. So Audrey has a BSc in biology and MSc in analysis and modeling of ecological data and a PhD in biological sciences, investigating the impact of environmental perturbations on population dynamics, and evolution of life history traits. But we’re going to be talking about sophrology, which I think a lot of people won’t be fully aware of what it is. So we’re going to talk about that a bit. And Audrey has found a way to still be involved in research by delivering intervention to get sophrology more evidence based. So welcome to the podcast, Audrey.

Audrey Zannese  01:18

Thank you very much.

Geoff Allix  01:19

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your career, your MS journey and yourself?

Audrey Zannese  01:26

Yes, absolutely. So yes, I’m good, and you may have picked it up already. I come from France. And my career and my MS journey are very closely intertwined. So I’ll go back to the start. From an early age, I wanted to be a vet, but not a vet for pets, I wanted to be a vet to save endangered species. So as this dream evolved, I did that degree in biology, a specialization in ecology. And after four years, I had the opportunity to do a placement for a year in a research lab. Well, I ended up analyzing a big data set, as well I can start realisations that ecology is actually quite a quantitative field. And that it’s probably would be a smart move for me to develop some quantitative skills. So instead of going into conservation biology, I decided to do that master’s in analysis and ecology and soil analysis and modeling of ecological data. And that’s where the MS journey starts. That master’s was really a steep learning curve for me, because statistics and metrics were not my preferred subjects. But I did manage to go through it, I worked my socks off, it was really stressful. And I remember I barely slept through the exam period. And about a week or two after the exam, I go to bed, and I wake up the next day, and I am entirely blind in my left eye. So big panic. My parents rushed me to the hospital, I have a test done. I have steroid infusion. And for the first time, Dr. has mentioned multiple sclerosis to me, but the diagnosis wasn’t firmed up because the tests are not entirely conclusive. So they wanted me to fail those tests. To which my family and I said, No, thank you. We were not ready to hear this. I was 24 years old at the time it was so career driven, so ambitious, so focused. MS didn’t have any, any place in that plan. So I had a perfect explanation for what had happened. You know, I had exerted myself with a master’s worked too hard. My body had a glitch, okay, I was recovering. It was fine. And I carried on. So then I came to the UK to do a PhD at University of Leeds. And after the first year of PhD, I did my first conference where I presented a poster and I was all excited and all nervous as well. And after the conference. I had another relapse with the other eye, not as bad, but concerning enough that I said, Okay, I need to get to the bottom of this. I need to be sure. So this was a test and the diagnosis of MS was confirmed. Now what did I do? When I buried my head into the sand once more, I put a lid on it. And I said okay, no, no, it is MS. Fine. I’m going to manage but you know, the definition of insanity. Like I didn’t change anything. I just carried on hoping it would go away. And guess what, a year later and as I relapse, so that’s when it hit me. I realized okay, this is MS, this is real, this is not going away. And then realization what are going to be the consequences for me for my life for my work. And at that point, so the fear rushed in and I they told me I should be taking treatment and I thought, okay, it’s probably the most fashionable thing to do. I’m going to start the treatment. So I was at the time doing the PhD in the UK, I put the PhD on hold for three weeks, came back to France to be with my family to start to treatment. And I met a French neurologist who recommended sophrology to me. Now, that’s where I think the next step of my journey started.

Geoff Allix  05:25

Can you give us a bit of an introduction? What is the sophrology in broad term?

Audrey Zannese  05:30

Sophrology in France is as popular as mindfulness in the UK, so I kind of knew what he was talking about. But I was also I mean, I had never done things like relaxation, meditation, and for me, the kind of quantitative scientist very rational, very skeptical, let’s say, when he said sophrology, I was gobsmacked because I was just like, What is this stuff? I mean, how is that supposed to help, but because he was a doctor, and because I realized I was also in a bad place, I couldn’t stay well, I was really feel was overwhelming, I decided to give it a try. So if I try to be concise about what sophrology is, I would define it as a uniquely structured Mind Body practice that combines both Western relaxation methods and Eastern meditative practices. And it can be used for personal development, enhancing performance, but also improving health and well being. Basically, how it works is that it’s this variety of exercises that are really accessible and easy to incorporate in your daily life. So it’s very versatile. And there is gentle body movements are breathing exercises, aspects of mindfulness and meditation. There is also some principles of positive psychology. And really, you can use it on the go, as you need, you know, in your day to day life, and you can go a long way as well with practicing 10 to 15 minutes a day doesn’t take too much time. It’s very adapted, I think, for all Western societies, that this movement and alongside mindfulness. Yeah, I think sophrology is really the comprehensive web framework that combines many different modalities. So there are elements of movement meditation, as you would find in Tai Chi, Chi Gong or yoga, derived from from yoga, there are elements of mindfulness and meditation. There is also this guided imagery and positive imagery, perhaps contrary to mindfulness and meditation, with sophrology we don’t necessarily stay into here and now those as well, we start, but we might also revisit the past in a constructive way or taking what’s positive from the past, and then also project ourselves into the future. There are techniques that involve breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, and his value work as well in psychology. So it’s really unique and are accessible and easy to to use in your day to day.

Geoff Allix  08:19

What’s the history of it, it’s been around for a long time, and you said in France, more common is it?

Audrey Zannese  08:24

It is not Han France, it was actually developed by an old psychiatrist called Alfonso Caycedo in 1960s, in Spain, but he spoke French, which is how it migrated to France and introduced it to the to the French audience. So just to put things into context of Spain in the 1960s, we have post the Spanish Civil War, we have post World War Two, and we are in the Franco’s regime. Caycedo had to deal with a lot of PTSD patients. And at the time, the treatments were quite intrusive, induced comas, electric shocks, and he was trying to find a more humane way to relieve his patients. And that’s why he found I think, his life work and passion, which was a study of consciousness because for him, that was a key to help ease people to help them integrate mind and body. And he had a theory that I mean, you know that we already have different levels of consciousness, whether we are awake or relaxed or asleep and that matches the pattern in our brain, brain waves. But he was also saying consciousness as disintegrative force that could be worked and developed upon and seeing, at one end, people were so dissociated with themselves that are in a state of literally split consciousness, which is schizophrenia And that as humans, it was possible to again, bring that back integration between body and mind and you will be in the state of harmonious consciousness. And he came up with this world, sophrenia against schizophrenia. And as well, it derives of sophrology from Greek words. That means logos, the study of, phren consciousness

Geoff Allix  10:20

When you were talking about mindfulness and meditation, it’s not counted to those. It’s just a part of a whole picture of different techniques that can be used.

Audrey Zannese  10:31

Now, of course, commonalities and differences between the two techniques, and I’m not here to say, sophrology is the best or that is absolutely what you should do. At the end of the day, what is most important is that people try experiment, explore, and they find the method that works best for them. That’s really what I advocate. But I think sophroogy deserves to be one of the modalities that is more known in the UK well, because, again, of the accessibility and ease of use of it. So you’re right, that it fits. I mean, for me, mindfulness and meditation are kind of included already in sophrology. As I said, perhaps sophrology is a bit more comprehensive in the sense that we have also value work, and we don’t say things are here. And now. Also, I would say that the aim with sophrology is to help you reconnect with yourself, be that self awareness of how you’re feeling inside and helps you build the capacity to regulate your internal state, but also build the capacity as you would find in mindfulness and meditation of acceptance and letting go when things cannot be changed. And through this work, because it is repetitive is very much a practice, like mindfulness and meditation, you get to this place where you are feeling much more balanced in terms of your mind, body, emotions, and you are in a place where you are feeling more capable of more conscious, they are developing your conscious and more conscious of your state, who you are, you as a being and how you want to live your life. So it’s this message that really gives you empowerment and urgency, because I always say with origin, ultimately is that way of living, it’s like I become the subject of my life rather than being subjected to life. But similar principles of you know, being in the experience with no judgment, with no expectations. And having said that, at the same time, with sophrology we have, we all being more intentional. So if people experience something positive, that they perceive as positive during a session, we help them focus and incorporate that even more. So that then through the practice in your day to day life, bringing visibility to focus perhaps more on positive rather than negative, which, and that’s where sophrology has been key for me to start with, it’s been that capacity to regulate the emotions, the stress and the internal state. And to sense when I was pushing too much and avoid going I think into into another relapse or flare up. Yeah, I actually between 2004 and 2007 I had five different relapses, but two of them, I wasn’t aware half until afterwards, you know, I didn’t realize they were linked to MS. But if I look again, well, they happened. They happened again, after times of exertion. One was after the interview for the PhD. And one was after I had done something really physical and quite stressful at the time. So you’re right, anything could throw you off. But if you realize that you have this capacity yes, that gives you that agency.

Geoff Allix  13:59

And so how did you switch from being a research scientist? Into a sophrologist?

Audrey Zannese  14:07

Yes, that’s an interesting, that’s interesting shift and actually took its time. If I may, I’m just gonna go back to to when I started practicing sophrology, I think that’s the best way to to carry on with the sophrology journey and my journey as a scientist at the time what happened. So 2007, I stopped practicing. And what I noticed is that it helps me regulate my stress level, and it’s something I can do and I stopped practicing on a very regular basis almost every day for two to three years. And what I’ve noticed is, not only did I feel a lot calmer, I think, I mean, I realized afterwards it really helped with side effects of the treatments for me, and also without realizing psychology was responsible for that. I felt, as I said, much more confident and optimistic about my life. Like I remember one day I came out of my flat, and I was so happy to be alive. I didn’t feel MS anymore. I wasn’t scared, I knew I had everything in me to live my best life, in a way I have never been before when I was healthy, you know, it’s when I look back, when I look with compassion, but to realize that, through this journey, I realized what it was to really be happy. And so this happened. And then I started to I completed my PhD. And then I got a postdoc at UVA. And I don’t know whether it was a transition. But you know, I got out of my routine. And also, I was really skeptical. I was skeptical, I was just like, well, I don’t think sophroogy is so responsible for how well I feel. And surely it’s okay, so I started practicing less and less, and I stopped altogether. What happened at that time, is I started experiencing side effects on the treatment, in a way I had never experienced them before. And that snowballed, they became worse and worse and worse. And until one night, they began so bad that there was a breaking point where I said, okay, I don’t know what to do anymore. I had spoken to the neurologist about it, I said, take some painkillers. So I was just like, Yeah, I’m gonna try sophrology again. And I wasn’t sure you see, I’m still skeptical when I was. In that state, I was just like, I’m going to try, I don’t know, I actually have to show weeks of practice, the side effects of the treatments receded. Now, it’s not that I didn’t experience side effects before. It’s just, I wasn’t putting my focus on it. I was breathing through them. And they were not afecting all part of my life. Whereas afterwards, I started to have bad experiences. And then I started to become oppressive about it. And then I just amplified the side effects with the stress levels and the emotions a lot more. So here, I had a good experience of what it means to tap into the power of your mind body connection. So that happened, because then I’m a very imperfect human being. And so I went out of practice again. So what happened during the first, that was quite intense. And I had a bad relapse, and experience fatigue for several weeks. And yeah, I took that decision that really, one sophrology had to become an integral part of my life, because I realized, if I want to do the thing I want to do I need to be well, and I need to practice sophrology. And then also probably realized, that was a mix of reasons, but academia wasn’t going to be the path for me. So the natural conclusion was, if I want to make sophrology an integral part of my life, what best way then to become a sophrology practitioner. And that’s how I started to be honest, it was really a very selfish move. It was really to help myself, first of all, but then it has led to me helping others who are now in similar situation where I was at the time.

Overcoming MS  18:16

Have you signed up to the new Overcoming MS app? If not, download the Live Well Hub in your app store and join the Overcoming MS community, get support, find connections and feel motivated to live well with MS. Download the Live Well Hub today.

Geoff Allix  18:33

And so as you’ve got scientific background, as there been research into sophrology, and actually have there been clinical trials,

Audrey Zannese  18:43

Because I am a scientist, and I will be honest and transparent today, I cannot tell you that sophrology is evidence based. We don’t have enough studies, the quality of the studies is not sufficient. It’s interesting. And because in France, it seems really popular. It started spreading in the medical world in clinical settings, before then going into other environments like schools and sports and corporate world. And I don’t know why the French doctors didn’t do more studies, but we’re starting to see some studies but today I couldn’t say it’s evidence based. However, I could tell you that all the modalities upon which it is influenced and that are incorporated in sophrology are evidence based so yes, you’re right. Well, you could say in the evidence for mindfulness and meditation we’re saying the evidence for movement meditation qi gong, tai chi and yoga and also for positive psychology intervention for progressive muscle relaxation, we know how important it is to work with our breathing and to learn to breathe properly for health and well being. So all these elements are evidence based. But in the last five years, there’s been quite a few studies that have come out. So in particular, there has been a randomized controlled trial that showed us ufology significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. And then in the sector of health hospital, there’s been some studies that have shown that sophrology is good at reducing stress, and then discomfort of pain for certain intervention and procedures. So there was a study that was observational, but looking at cancer patients, and there’s been positive effects there. And then a randomized controlled trial for people who had acute respiratory failure. And they found that with sophrology, people were having less discomfort in terms of using the equipment, and then they have less difficulty to breathe. There was a study as well on the impact of sophrology with people with tinnitus. And the result is that people find that they found the tinnitus, less intrusive. We want to build the evidence base. But I think exactly as you said, you will take the same paths as mindfulness meditation and those other modalities. A key is always about building this capacity to regulate your internal state to quieting the mind to calm the body, to manage the emotions, but also building as I said, that capacity to be in the acceptance and letting go. So that you can do with the experience when you cannot be controlled or change in a much more peaceful way.

Geoff Allix  21:41

It does seem to be it’s, it’s something that would be worth trying as a very parallel thing to things like Tai Chi and Qigong. And I mean, I like the idea of it, because it does help me but I have not tried sphrology, so I’d be very interested as well.

Audrey Zannese  21:57

That’s what I discovered with my own practice is that, you know, I didn’t do any other or lifestyle changes, I mean, didn’t pursue any other active lifestyle changes, it just naturally occurred from the process of reconnecting with myself. And that naturally led itself to me doing more exercise or eating slightly differently, being more in tune with what resonates with my body or not.

Geoff Allix  22:25

Would it be possible for you to give us a short sophrology practice?

Audrey Zannese  22:31

Yes, so I was planning to do one sitting down to accommodate if there are people in wheelchairs, with mobility issues, but also wanting to say that if you’d rather do some of that session, standing up, you have that freedom, because sophrology is very free. It’s about listening to yourself doing what’s right for you. So if you don’t want to be sitting, you can stand up, but have your chair behind because we’d be sitting, sitting through the session. And we’re going to start with simple wellness of our body of breathing, just, you know, making ourselves present, then I’m going to invite you to do a neck movement. So we perhaps bringing ourselves a bit up so that we have the space to do the movement. And we’re going to do a little up and down movement. And we’re going to really be sensing how far we want to stretch as a movement. So there is no no recommendation other than listening to how your body feels. And then we’ll go into new movement. I mean, from side to side. Okay, then we are going to come back to center, I’m going to do some little pauses in between the exercises, just so that you check and tune in to whether you experience any sensations. So again, no expectations to be had. If you feel nothing at all, that’s your experience. And it’s valid. Don’t start thinking to yourself, Am I doing this sell, because I don’t feel anything? That’s the interpretation. That’s what we don’t want. Staying with your experience. But if you experience some things that you find you perceive as positive, taking this opportunity to reinforce and incorporate that, as well as welcoming with us, our messages could be could be appearing after his neck exercise, we’re generally going to close our hands into gentle fists, and we’re going to bring our shoulders up while we breathe in. We’re going to hold and clench and breathe out release. I’m going to invite you to do this three times and then we’ll invite you to do a visualization around the color so you don’t have to think about the color right now. You can let it come when when the session is and bearing in mind that if there is color or there’s nothing coming it’s okay just to stay with your body say with your presence and wait for the end of the session. And if any of the exercises I’ve just said, don’t feel right, you don’t have to do them. Yeah. Okay, so let’s start inviting you to find a position that you’re comfortable in. So whether you’re sitting whether you decide to stand, making sure that you find your space your comfortable place, and if you’re okay with that you can close the eyes. If closing the eyes is not feeling comfortable, just lowering your gaze and resting your gaze in front of you. And taking this minute for noticing how you’re placed, feeling the feet, perhaps on the floor, or the verticality of your spine, if you are sitting the points of contact between your body and the chair. And taking this moment to make any adjustments that you feel you’d like to do, as you are starting to gently reconnect with your body, its posture. Having the freedom to make yourself as comfortable as possible right now. Allowing your body to breathe freely. Noticing the flow of air coming in and out without having to change anything. Letting it happen. And if it happens to change while you are observing this movement, that’s fine. Staying with this. Bringing your attention to your head, your face. Noticing this part of the body. As it is today. How does it stand on top of your neck? Do you experience it? Heavy light. Then moving down to your neck or throat, your shoulders allowing the shoulders drop or later is that possible, your arms, your forearms, your hands, your fingers. Again, just an awareness of how we experienced this part of the body. How do we know it’s there. On the next out breath, I invite you to bring your attention to your chest to your upper back, welcoming space in between the chest and the upper back. Moving down to your belly, your lower back. Noticing the presence of that space and moving down to the lower part of your body, from your hips and pelvis to your legs to your feet. How does this part of the body manifest today? It doesn’t appear to you? Awareness of your whole body. Now I’m going to invite you to perhaps move forward on your seat if you want to do that first exercise but remember that at any point you are free to adjust your posture. And once you find the balanced position, I invite you to start moving your head up and down. Breathing freely and starting with a small movement and letting it expand as you wish. Really being present to what’s happening in the back of their head, your neck parts your shoulders, so that you stretch this movement in a way that is just fine for you. To go at the pace you want the amplitude you want if at any point this becomes uncomfortable or you feel dizzy, stop the movement. Remember, you don’t have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Sometimes we hear little cracks or clicks as the joints gets activated, it’s okay. As long as it’s feeling all right, comfortable. You can carry on filling your head moving into space, letting the movement happen. Being in the sensations and letting your head come back into center. As it is that comes back into center we’re going to do a gentle side to side movement. We start small again and we let it stretch. Being really mindful of the sensations in the neck area for the area, we let our body show us what’s right for us today. Maybe we want to go very slowly, maybe we want to go be more quickly Remembering to breathe as we do this exercise And letting the head come back into center position. Just taking a little pause now to see whether we perceive any particular sensations into our body. There could be some more sensations around the neck area, or perhaps not, could be a tingle and each. This is just a time to welcome what is with no expectation, no judgment, just being present, to see lighter, heavier, cooler, warmer, maybe more awareness of the presence of a head than other parts of the body, maybe not maybe nothing at all. Now I’m going to invite you to place your arms by your side. And we’re going to start by bringing our hands into gentle fists. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to breathe in, leave the shoulders up, contract as far away as little as we want, holding the breath a little and then we breathe out and let the shoulders drop in the hands. And we do that three times. So hands into gentle fist breathing, shoulders up, hold and then let go or release. Letting the shoulders drops the hands open as freely as possible. You can do this exercise very physically or if you wish, you could imagine releasing particular tensions you may have, whether it’s physical, mental and emotional. I’ll let you decide whether there is something that you’d like to release. As soon as the second time and bring the hads to fists, let’s breathe in this the shoulders up and contract hold, mobilize your tensions and release them when you’re ready. Allowing the shoulders to drop the hands open feeling is what’s happening inside deciding how you’re going to do this movement. Hands into gentle fists when you’re ready, breathe in, lift the shoulders up, forward tense and release is when you’re ready You can sit comfortably bring back your hands perhaps into your lap and take a moment to acknowledge whether there are any particular sensations in the body. Maybe more sensations on the shoulders area, maybe not. Maybe some things that you perceive as positive and if that’s not the case, it’s okay just being present to what is right now. Now I’d like to invite you to let a color come to your mind. Beautiful color. Something that you’d be happy to work with for today and maybe says that color presents itself in front of you. And if that’s the case, you can take a little time to notice its brightness, or whether it’s rather soft. It might come as a shape, an object. It may even come as a taste or smell. However it is bringing to mind the color. A color that feels good for you in this moment. And if multiple colors are coming up you could decide to work with several or you can pick one. If there’s nothing at all choose a color that you prefer, again in whatever shaping it comes to you. And start to notice with this color what it is that’s good about it. How does it feel? Is it like A Cornell that you like because it’s very bright is a joyful perhaps comforting or soothing the healing I’m gonna invite you to find a way to let this color completely surrounds you. Maybe you imagine yourself in a bubble made of that color maybe you decide to bathe in the color perhaps its color is wrapping around you like a soft blanket. Whatever works for you. Imagining this beautiful color all around you surrounding you wrapping itself around you How does it feel? What does this color bring and I’m going to invite you to each time your breathing, find a way to invite this color inside and each time you breathe out, let it flow let it expand into your body. Let it go where it needs to go today. Breathing in you invite the color in maybe it’s for your breath or maybe it’s permeating through the pores of your skin and breathing out it’s traveling filling you up with its positive energy this color inside you what does it bring the balancing, decorating. Does it bring brightness does it bring you happiness does it bring something else much more soothing, much more calming. Carry on for a few moments breathing in invites the color breathing out and let it sink into the body. Noticing how it feels inside perhaps going to certain parts more than others of you there are certain parts of your bodies and needs fiskardo A bit more. You can control with your breasts, how much of it you take in where you send it. Perhaps relate yourself being completely filled up with a color and even reaching the extremities Keep hold of the sensations that this color has brought to us of how we are feeling inside. But now gently we’re going to let the color go and fade away with going to take one final pose to sense what’s happening inside. How am I feeling physically, emotionally, mentally right now? What do I want to welcome sensations, perceptions, feelings, perhaps a sense of quietness. Perhaps a sense of well being or energy. Again, perhaps a sense of heaviness lightness. Okay, we’re going to bring ourselves to come back. Perhaps before opening the eyes start gently activating your body stretching, taking a couple of deep breaths to really bring yourself back into the room. And when you’re ready, you can open the eyes. How was that?

Geoff Allix  38:51

I thought that was yeah, that was very good. They I particularly noticed that when the breathing out quickly. Just after that just felt a really nice, I don’t know it’s hard to describe. But that was a really good feeling. It’s something where it’s good to do a practice with a guided practice with someone.

Audrey Zannese  39:16

Yes, so I can I can give you a few resources. Actually, I’d like to mention something that I didn’t mention when we discuss the studies if that’s okay with you. So, I’ve got two hats. I’ve got my sophrology practitioner hat and I’ve got my personal practice where I mainly help people living with chronic illness pain, fatigue, also anxiety and overwhelm and burnout. But I’m also the education director of the Sophrology Academy which is the one school in the UK teaching people to become sophrology practitioners. And as part of the academy was given this opportunity to lead an eight week pain management intervention to assess the impact of sophrology on the patient and on others living with with chronic pain. So there was a study that was carried by Professor Caroline Lafarge, who is a professor at the University of West London in psychology, but she’s also director of research now it’s at the Academy, and that was her master students who did the study. And we did it as a randomized control trial. And again, we found that sophrology is, I think, positive, in fact, it’s down in terms of quieting the mind, you know. But what I found also very interesting with that study was that we saw a decrease in the pain levels, so a significant interaction between the decrease was a control and intervention is treatment. But what was really significant was how the decrease in pain medication by the treatment group. And that, for me, really encapsulates what sophrology is about and what I think any mind body practice is all about. And we were discussing about complimentary therapies that were not going to magic the pain away. If you have neuropathic damage. Once your nerve has recovered as much as it can recover, you’re not going to magic that away, personally. But by regulating again, your mind quieting your mind, your body, your emotions, you are capable of changing the relationship and the experience you have with the pain or the conditions that you’re that you live with. So that’s something I thought I should mention, because I didn’t mention that study. It’s not published yet we are in the process of getting it published by so it was important. And then in terms of the resources, I wanted to mention, that I’m Education Director of the Sophrology Academy, so that I can pinpoint people to different resources. So if you want to know more about sophrology, and my practice, of course, you can find me, I’ve got my own websites and also on Facebook, on Instagram and LinkedIn. But there is also the website of Sophrology Academy, where people can find the resources and they can find the directory as well as sophrologists who trained with us. So, you know, that’s another resource. Now in terms of what I offer, I have a guide about how to tap into the power of the mind body connection. And that’s a bit of story I was explaining to you with the side effects of the treatments. And the fact that we have this capacity to either amplify an experience that could be pain or could be anxiety could be anything, or reduce it. And in that particular guide, I give a four step plan that people can implement straightaway, to start tapping into that mind body connection. So of course, I explained as well about sophrology it’s such a good method to implement this four step plan. But I just want your audience to know that you’re ready to go. If you if you listen to this, you get to four steps, you can choose whichever method is right for you. I don’t mind but start practicing in and start implementing today.

Geoff Allix  43:30

Okay, with that, so I would encourage everyone to check out the show notes. There’ll be links to all the resources for Audrey. And um, yes, just to say thank you very much for joining us, Audrey.

Audrey Zannese  43:43

Thank you very much, Geoff for having me.

Overcoming MS  43:50

Thank you for listening to this episode of living well with MS. Please check out this episode’s show notes at you’ll find useful links and bonus information there. Have questions or ideas to share? Email us at [email protected] or you can reach out to Geoff on Twitter @GeoffAllix, we’d love to hear from you. Thanks again for tuning in and see you next time for tips on living a full and happy life with MS.

Follow us on social media:

Don’t miss out: 

Subscribe to this podcast and never miss an episode. Listen to our archive of Living Well with MS episodes here. If you like Living Well with MS, please leave a 5-star review.

Feel free to share your comments and suggestions for future guests and episode topics by emailing [email protected].

Make sure you sign up to our newsletter to hear our latest tips and news about living a full and happy life with MS.

Support us: 

If you enjoy this podcast and want to support the ongoing work of Overcoming MS, we would really appreciate it if you could leave a donation here. Every donation, however small, helps our charity to share how to live well with MS with more people.

Audrey’s bio:

Audrey’s career

Audrey Zannese is an anxiety and pain management expert and founder of ‘Step into Sophrology’, which helps people living with chronic illness, anxiety, pain and fatigue to take back control of their body and health so that they can live their lives the way they want.


She does this by teaching them a uniquely structured mind-body practice called sophrology which was recommended to her by a French neurologist when she started her treatment for MS. Combining Western relaxation with Eastern meditative techniques, it consists of gentle body movements, breathing exercises and positive visualisations. Exercises are particularly accessible and easy to incorporate in busy daily life.

Audrey is also the education director at the Sophrology Academy, which is the UK’s school for training sophrology practitioners. Audrey is passionate about raising awareness of sophrology so that it can be recommended by healthcare professionals.