JENNI Heinrich stands still, breathes in and enters the flow.
She is Bendigo's sole sophrology coach and, as far as she is aware, only the second fully qualified practitioner actively teaching within Australia.
It is kind of like mindfulness, meditation and a little bit of Tai Chi, Ms Heinrich tells people to help them get their minds around a practice many have not heard of.
Swiss Olympians swear by sophrology.
"It helped them win over 400 medals," Ms Heinrich said.
Sophrology is now widespread among Europeans hoping to improve wellness and deal with issues like anxiety, low energy levels, mood swings and confidence.
"You can claim it on your healthcare in Switzerland and midwives are using it with clients in places like Japan and Korea," Ms Heinrich said.
Neuropsychiatrist Alfonso Caycedo started developing sophrology in the 1960s after treating Spanish war veterans who struggled with post traumatic stress disorders and injuries.
He blended modern-day psychological practices with Eastern ideas about wellness.
Sophrology's trailblazers were careful to make sure their methods complied with scientific knowledge, Ms Heinrich said.
They knew that anything their peers considered too left-of-field could get them deregistered.
Ms Heinrich recently started coaching clients at her Woodvale home in some of her practice Sophrology Central Victoria's first formal courses.
She is using a stone cottage that her partner Graeme intends to share for his yoga classes.
"It's going really well," Ms Heinrich said.
Those students are already starting to feel shifts in the way they experience the world.
"It's a subtle but very, very powerful change to your way of thinking," Ms Heinrich said.
New students start with discussions about what they want to get out of the practice, similar things they have done in the past and some basic sophrology exercises.
Ms Heinrich hopes they will benefit as much as she has from sophrology, which she herself had not heard of until a chance conversation several years ago.
She had decided to visit friends she had met in Europe decades earlier, after coming to a crossroad in her life and career.
The music teacher loved her primary school jobs but said it was "like putting on five shows a day, so it can be exhausting".
Ms Heinrich had wanted to ease back.
She also wanted to find new methods to help school students with high social and emotional needs.
"I'd tried doing meditation with the kids but they couldn't sit still long enough," Ms Heinrich said.
"I wanted to find a better way to help them."
Then Ms Heinrich got talking with someone on a bus in France, who mentioned sophrology.
On returning to Australia, she enrolled as a remote student in one of the first English language sophrology courses available, taught by master sophrologist Dorna Revie.
Ms Heinrich has been surprised to find it has had an impact on her own way of seeing the world.
"I've always considered myself to be a pretty happy, well-adjusted sort of human being," she said.
"I'd be mucking out the horse yard or doing the vacuuming with these thoughts hitting the repeat button in my brain."
Ms Heinrich had never noticed how many of those thoughts were negative ones.
"I think that's the same for a lot of people until they shine a light on it," she said.
For Ms Heinrich, the negative thoughts often revolved around imagined conversations with people in her life.
"That was creating tension in my body and a certain amount of friction in my relationships," she said.
"In doing the sophrology practices I found that after a while that friction disappeared and my relationships became so much less reactionary."
The exercises she was doing effectively allowed her to decide whether the thoughts she was having were ones she wanted in her life.
Then she simply let many of them go.
"If you carry stuff with you it becomes all these little sores on your consciousness. Someone can say something completely innocently and it presses on that little wound," she said.
For more information about Ms Heinrich's practice visit Sophrology Central Victoria's website.
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