Autogenic relaxation or Autogenic training (AT), is a technique that teaches your body to respond to your verbal commands. These commands “tell” your body to relax and control breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, and body temperature. The goal of autogenic training is to achieve deep relaxation and reduce stress. By practicing this technique, you’ll learn to use body awareness and visual imagery to achieve a deep state of relaxation. As soon as your mind reaches a peaceful place, you’ll be able to learn how to focus on different physical sensations, such as warmth, a calm heartbeat, slow breathing, and heaviness in the limbs. Autogenic training will take up about 15 minutes of your day.
This relaxation technique was developed by a German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz and he published this new system in 1932. Autogenic relaxation be use to control problems such as anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, irritability and increase your resistance to stress.
There are four main categories of exercises to Schultz verbal formulas.
- Verbal formulas to make the body normal.
- Verbal formulas to calm the mind.
- Autogenic exercises that are modified to help specific problems.
- Meditative exercises to help develop mind concentration.
Autogenic relaxation training involves six standard exercises that make the body feel warmth, heaviness throughout your body, with a state of relaxation and mental peace. This formula is used to help someone that experiences physical or emotional stress.
For each exercise, you would sit in a comfortable chair or reclining chair, and you can even use meditation sitting. You would have to concentrate, and use visual imagination and verbal cues to relax your body in a specific way.
Six Standard Exercise for Autogenic Relaxation
- Phase 1 Heaviness. Use verbal formulas to promote relaxation of the voluntary muscles to heaviness. Example: “My right arm is heavy.”
- Phase 2 Warmth. Use verbal formulas to promote warmth. Example: “My right hand is warm.”
- Phase 3 Calm the Heart. The third verbal formula focuses on normalizing cardiac activity. Example: “My heartbeat is calm and regular.”
- Phase 4 Breathing. This verbal formula regulates the respiratory system. Example: “My breathing is calm. I Feel calm.”
- Phase 5 Abdominal. The verbal formula relaxes and warms the abdominal area. Example: My stomach is getting warm.”
- Phase 6 Cool Forehead: The last verbal formula reduces the flow of the blood to the head. Example: “My forehead is cool.”
You have to have regular practice with this relaxation technique or it is not likely to have an effect. This training cannot be rushed and it may take you several months for the full effect. If you master the technique, it does works, and it can be an effective treatment for chronic stress.