Autogenic training: how it works and how to learn it

Anyone who has ever dealt with the various methods of relaxation and stress reduction will inevitably have come into contact with the term "autogenic training. By using your own imagination, autogenic training can put you in a state of relaxation, reduce stress and even alleviate sleep problems. All you need is a little practice – and, of course, imagination. And best of all: anyone can learn and perform autogenic training – regardless of age and personal physical fitness.

Contents at a glance

What is autogenic training?

Autogenic training was originally made famous by the psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz, who first dealt with the special form of self-hypnosis in the 1930s. In his work with certain hypnosis techniques, he found that some patients were able to put themselves into a relaxed, trance-like state through self-influence. He called this process "autogenic training".

Effect of autogenic training on body and psyche

Those who perform autogenic training correctly can influence bodily functions such as pulse rate, blood circulation and breathing and thus achieve a positive effect on their health. Autogenic training can do the following, among other things:

  • Reduction of muscle tension and posture problems
  • Positive effect on stomach and intestinal disorders
  • Decrease in chronic pain, headaches and migraines
  • Increased performance
  • Reduction of concentration problems
  • Positive effect with psychological loads
  • More calmness and inner peace

Does autogenic training help with problems falling asleep??

Millions of people in Germany suffer from sleep problems. A healthy sleep is one of the most important things to strengthen the immune system and to start the day fit.

Due to psychological strain and stress in everyday life, it can be difficult to fall asleep in the evening. Autogenic training can help sufferers to calm down. Using self-hypnosis, people with problems falling asleep can learn to block out stress factors and thus fall asleep better.

What services does the AOK offer for stress management??

The services offered by the AOK vary from region to region. By entering your zip code, we can determine the AOK that is responsible for you and display suitable services provided by your AOK.

Autogenic training: Exercise for beginners

In principle, anyone can learn autogenic training – some find it a little easier, others more difficult. Typical basic exercises like "the heaviness exercise" or "the warmth exercise" give a first taste of what is possible with the power of one’s own thoughts.

Become curious? Just try it once!

The heavy exercise is very suitable for beginners. As your muscles relax, a feeling of heaviness is created here, hence the name "heaviness exercise".

This is how it works:

  1. Choose a quiet place where you will be undisturbed for the next ten minutes.
  2. Sit down on a chair in the So-called coachman’s posture: Your upper body is slightly bent forward, with your forearms resting on your thighs. Hang your head and neck. It is better – if possible- to lie down on a mat on the floor. Your arms then lie next to you.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Concentrate on your right arm, left-handers on the left arm. Feel how heavy it already feels.
  5. Increase the feeling of heaviness by now using a suggestion: "My right arm is very heavy" (alternative: "My left arm is very heavy"). Repeat several times.
  6. Feel your right/left arm getting heavier and heavier and at the same time a relaxation is spreading.
  7. Extend the exercise to the other arm and your legs. When performing your autogenic training, make sure to adjust the formulas or the text, i.e. "My left/right arm is very heavy", "My right/left leg is very heavy" – depending on which arm or leg you are currently "working" with.
  8. To end your autogenic training, simply tense your muscles again. Make a fist for example. Stretch yourself. Open your eyes and stand up. This will bring back the state of relaxation. This process is called "withdrawal.

Other exercises work similarly to the heaviness exercise. For starters, vary between the light exercises. The more often you practice, the faster you will be able to relax.

Similar to the heaviness exercise, here you suggest to your body that it is quite warm. This is to widen the blood vessels and you calm down. This exercise can also be done in the coachman’s position, or lying down. Suggest: "My right arm is very warm". Adapt the suggestion to other parts of the body so that the body relaxes completely.

You know when you can hardly breathe because of nervousness and excitement?? Especially in case of stage fright, the following exercise helps you to find back to your inner center.

To achieve a balancing, relaxed and slow breathing, suggest a calm flow of breath – for example, by using a formula such as "Breathing very calmly", which you repeat several times, just as in the heaviness or warmth exercise, until the state of relaxation has set in. In this way, you suggest to the body that there is no danger and that it can relax. The result: Breathing is regulated.

Autogenic training has proven itself as a relaxation therapy for years. However, success always depends on the extent to which you can engage in it. You need a lot of imagination. Experts can help to perfect autogenic training. If you don’t want to do autogenic training on your own at home, there are several course formats where you can get advice from experts.

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