This time, the second part of the relaxation techniques series is about Autogenic Training (AT).

As a teacher, I have had very good experiences with this method; I personally achieve better effects with meditation.  But that varies from person to person, so I would like to introduce the method anyway.

 Autogenic Training is a relaxation technique developed by German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz in the 1920s.

 AT is a relaxation process that uses autosuggestion (self-influencing) to build up beneficial relaxation in the entire organism.  The trainees learn to send relaxation impulses to the muscles, the circulatory system and the nerves via the vegetative nervous system, also known as the vital nervous system.  The relaxation then spreads specifically throughout the person.

  Autogenic Training is basically suitable for people of all ages and genders who are looking for relaxation and stress reduction.  It can help with various ailments such as sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, burnout syndrome and high blood pressure.  Dancers and people with high pressure to perform can benefit from the method to improve their concentration and mental strength.

  Working with young people over the years, I have noticed that AT although not easy to learn and teach, has a positive effect on the focus and concentration of my students.  By consciously self-influencing   – the method on which autogenic training is based – the young people not only learn to relax consciously, but also to influence their mindset, for example in the event of stage fright before performances.

  Of course, I recommend every teacher who wants to incorporate Autogenic Training into their lessons to first learn and practice the method themselves.

  It is possible to practice Autogenic Training without a teacher, guided by books, online courses or audio files.  However, it is an advantage, at least at the beginning, to see a teacher or therapist to ensure that the exercises are carried out correctly and to clarify individual questions.

  It is also important to note that the quality of the courses and media may vary.  One should always make sure that they are made by qualified teachers or therapists.

  The short form of Autogenic Training consists of six basic formulas that summarize the most important relaxation instructions in a short and concise way:

  * Heavy exercise: My right arm is heavy.

  * Warm-up exercise: My right arm is warm.

  * Heart exercise: My heart beats calmly and evenly.

  * Breathing exercise: I breathe calmly and evenly.

  * Solar Plexus Exercise: My solar plexus is warm.

  * Forehead cooling exercise: My forehead is pleasantly cool.

  The long form of Autogenic Training includes additional exercises such as the “Future Formula”, “Upper Abdominal Exercise” and “Graduated Formula”.  These exercises are more complex and require more practice.

  Here is a step-by-step guide to autogenic training:

  The process of Autogenic Training is relatively simple.  It begins with a deep relaxation of the body.  To do this, lie down, close your eyes and consciously relax every part of your body from your toes to your head.  Then the six basic formulas of Autogenic Training are slowly and repeatedly repeated in the mind until one achieves deep relaxation and serenity.

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place where you will not be disturbed.

  2. Lie comfortably on your back, close your eyes and relax every part of your body from your toes to your head.

  3. Focus on your breathing and breathe deeply and evenly.

  4. Slowly and calmly repeat the basic formulas of autogenic training in your mind:

  * My right arm is heavy.

  * My right arm is warm.

  * My heart beats calmly and evenly.

  * I breathe calmly and evenly.

  * My solar plexus is warm.

  * My forehead is pleasantly cool.

  5. Focus on each part of the body and feel it getting heavy and warm as you repeat the formulas.

  6. Stay in this deep relaxation as long as you like.

  7. When ready, slowly open your eyes and return to the room.

When performing Autogenic Training, it is important to choose a quiet and undisturbed environment and to take enough time for the exercises.  One should wear comfortable clothing and make sure one is in a comfortable position.  

When practicing AT sitting, I recommend a yoga stool, a meditation cushion or a yoga roll.  Lying down needs a comfortable surface, personally I am a big fan of classic yoga mats made of sheep’s wool, which offer a soft and warm surface. An eye pillow filled with lavender helps to calm the eyes and the mind

During the exercise one should concentrate on one’s own sensations and not allow oneself to be distracted.

 However, there are some contraindications for Autogenic Training.  Thus, the method should be avoided if one suffers from serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or acute psychosis.  You should also be careful with acute physical illnesses such as heart problems, acute asthma or acute pain.  In these cases, you should always consult a doctor beforehand.

Below are two YouTube videos for the short form and a long form, as well as a list of media and books that can be obtained from retailers such as Amazon

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