A Guide to Autogenic Training by Dr Prem – Definition, History, Benefits, Instructions, Limitations etc

A Guide to Autogenic Training by Dr Prem

Have you been feeling anxiety, depression, or any other stress-related symptom? Well, we understand, it can get rough sometimes. Fortunately, you can actually deal with your stress without having to deal with exhausting procedures or intake medicines or drugs, etc. Autogenic training is a therapy that will help you to relax, control your thoughts, and become a better version of yourself.

Following are the things you will learn from this guide:

A Guide to Autogenic Training by Dr Prem – Definition, History, Benefits, Instructions, Limitations etc

What is Autogenic Training?

physically exhausted manFeeling emotionally down or physically exhausted are very common conditions nowadays due to our hectic professional and personal life that somehow affects our entire lifestyleand daily routines. Autogenic therapy is a training process that can easily reduce your stress and relax your mind, body, and soul.

It is basically a technique to reverse various stress-related conditions while providing deep relaxation to your mind and body. Besides that, this amazing therapy will also help in improving your confidence as well as your general well-being. Autogenic therapy is easy but its effects can only be improved with diligently regular practice.

History and Development of Autogenic Training

Psychology Hypnosis Using Pendulum. Hypnotic Treatment And HypnotherapyAutogenic training was developed in the year 1920 by the German Psychiatrist Johannes Schultz. He worked under Oscar Vogt, a German physician, and was highly influenced by his research on sleep and hypnosis. Through several hypnotic trances and studies performed, they found that people experienced sensations like warmth and heaviness in their limbs and more signs of deep relaxation of mind and body.

Schultz reversed the concept of hypnosis and developed autogenic training with the use of repeating phrases to self that enables this deeply relaxed state. Later, the research and finding were presented to the Medical Society in 1926 Berlin and was published in 1932 in his book ‘Das Autogene Training’. Furthermore, Schultz’s companion Wolfgang Luthe published six volumes that had modified safety instructions for maximum benefits.

Yet, the core Autogenic training stages or techniques have remained the same. These core mental exercises are used till date in a structured and systematic way influenced by Luthe. Today, you can find Autogenic training therapy in various centers worldwide including Germany, Japan, and United Kingdom, etc.

How does Autogenic Training work?

autonomic nervous systemAutogenic training is usually compared with other therapies like meditation, yoga, hypnosis, etc that influence our body’s entire autonomic nervous system. However, Autogenic therapy is rather self-generating. Its primary goal is to enable people to use relaxation responses of their body on their own terms as needed.

The therapist trains patients to use this therapy with help of the core six basic stages or techniques. This results in better management of their physical symptoms like heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing, along with their emotional responses like feeling stressed or anxious. However, the treatment can take a few months till a person learns to use it effectively. This can only be done at a slow and steady pace.

The practitioner will constantly direct your attention to your bodily sensations for the therapy to work. Autogenic training is designed in a way that stimulates warmth in your circulatory system and heaviness in your musculoskeletal system for a significant sense of deep relaxation. Although the sessions of Autogenic training last for 15-20 mins, the patients are encouraged to practice the technique daily at home.

What are the benefits of Autogenic Training?

woman feeling HyperventilationAutogenic training is a simple mind therapy where you have to take full control of your mind, breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, etc. Using the before mentioned mind exercises one can control his/her body and mind conditions, which will ultimately reduce stress levels. There are various proven benefits of autogenic training for several other conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue or irritability
  • Asthma
  • Headaches and migraine
  • Heart diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperventilation
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Stomach spasms and gastritis
  • Ulcers (on the skin or inside the stomach, mouth, or intestines)
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Phobias
  • Chronic pains
  • Other pain disorders
  • Athlete performances
  • Childbirth preparation

What are the Six Stages of Autogenic Training?

Autogenic TrainingAutogenic training is not a heavy exercise training; no heavy training equipment is required. It can be done quickly in just ten minutes. First of all, you need to sit or lie down in a comfortable position and relax your arms and legs.

Take deep breaths three to six times before starting this practice. Once you’re done with that, you can follow these six stages of Autogenic training that will make your body and mind stress-free.

The six stages or exercises of AT are as follows:

  1. Feel that your limbs are heavy: Try to feel all your limbs, i.e. arms and legs, are heavy.
  2. Feel warmth: Now you have to focus on that your arms, as well as legs, are warm.
  3. Focus on your heartbeat. Keep thinking that your heartbeat is normal.
  4. Ease your breathing: Focus on calm and regular breathing.
  5. Focus that your abdomen is warm.
  6. Feel the coolness of your forehead.

Well, all these mental exercises will help you in gaining control over your mind. You have to control your mind according to what you want to feel, rather than letting certain incidents influence or hamper your mental peace.These exercises have shown many proven benefits of autogenic training ultimately resulting in improved quality of life.

Autogenics v/s Stress Management Techniques

Blood oxygen meter on mans finger. Isolated on white background.There are various stress management classes and training sessions, but all of these focus only on breathing techniques. On the other hand, Autogenics helps you focus on different body areas. Besides breathing, it helps you concentrate on relaxing muscles, as well as improving heart rate and blood pressure.Autogenic training is an amazing drug-free technique to reduce stress, insomnia, sleep disturbances, etc. It will help you achieve wellness of both body and mind.

What to expect from Autogenic Training Sessions?

woman opted for Autogenic Training SessionA session of Autogenic training is usually done in the following explained format:

Initially, you will be encouraged to be settled in a comfortable position. It can be sitting upright, reclined, or simply lying down. As the correct posture promotes calmness and relaxation, your therapist will ensure your comfort is the top priority.

Then the therapist will begin the session with the use of verbal cues. These verbal cues will guide you throughout the six core mental exercises in the training. It will help in controlling your breathing and focusing on certain parts of your body.

Further, your therapist will ask you to repeat these verbal cues out loud or silently, depending on how far your training has come. These verbal cues when repeated will create these sensations of warmth and heaviness that result in deep relaxation.

Here are some of the verbal cues used in the Autogenic Training Sessions:

  • I’m completely calm (repeat once)
  • My right arm feels heavy (repeat six times)
  • I’m completely calm (repeat once)
  • My right arm feels warm (repeat six times)
  • I’m completely calm (repeat once)
  • My heartbeats are normal and calm (repeat six times)
  • I’m completely calm (repeat once)
  • My breathing is regular and calm (repeat six times)
  • I’m completely calm (repeat once)
  • My abdomen feels very warm (repeat six times)
  • I’m completely calm (repeat once)
  • My forehead is pleasantly cool (repeat six times)
  • I’m completely calm (repeat once)

The session, verbal phrases, and the process will go on for a few more minutes. Once the lesson is done, your therapist will help you to cancel and release from the session, with a commonly used phrase “make your arms firm-Breathe deeply-now open your eyes”. Post training session, you will be motivated and supported to practice the Autogenic training at home.

The goal of every session is to enable you to feel calm and gain control over your unwanted psychological, physical, and emotional responses to stimuli. Those people who practice and utilize AT regularly have effective results in treating a wide range of mental and physical health problems. Each session will expand as per the last lesson till your therapist feels confident that you can perform the process independently.

Vital Instructions for Practicing Autogenic Training at home

relaxation procedureHere are some helpful instructions for practicing Autogenic Training at home –

  1. Make a habit to practice it at least once a day. It will take only eight to ten minutes.
  2. Always wear loose and relaxing clothes and try to keep your stimuli minimum.
  3. It is not necessary that you have to lie down while practicing. You can even sit on a chair or stool, but make sure you are sitting in a comfortable position. Your arms and legs must be pointed outwards.
  4. Here are three basic Autogenic training postures, that you can choose from:
  • You can sit in an armchair, and keep your head, back, and extremities body parts properly supported.
  • Sit on a high-height stool that can allow your legs to be relaxed while sitting. Be in a slightly stooped position and rest your arms on your thighs and keep your hands draped between both knees.
  • Lie down on a comfortable surface, while keeping your head supported and legs around 8 inches apart. Your arms should be resting at your sides comfortably (without touching the body).
  1. Once you have chosen one of these best comfortable Autogenic training postures for you, scan your entire body and ensure you don’t feel any tension in your body. Your body should be in a comfortable and relaxed position for this therapy.
  2. Begin with deep breathing and follow all the above-mentioned mind exercises for the relaxation procedure to begin.

In addition to this, you can also consider using voice recordings like MP3 files that include directions for practicing AT. Audio recordings can help in keeping your focus on the technique and make you feel relaxed.

Is Autogenic Training Safe?

people undergoing Autogenic TraininThroughout the decades, since Autogenic training therapy is pioneered, there have been many studies performed that suggest its effectiveness and safety. This practice can also be done individually. However, to ensure the safe use of the technique, it is highly advised that any individual first learn it from a professional and certified trainer to achieve successful results. There can be some degree of risk that may lead to severe emotional concerns if the technique is performed wrongly.

Qualified practitioners ensure that the exercises are taught efficiently, which diminishes the risk of such harm. Additionally, it is also important to understand that Autogenic training may not be suitable for people with certain health concerns. Experienced therapists typically guide for whom the therapy may not be appropriate.Some of these concerns are mentioned further in the guide for better understanding. These people may use general tips for relaxation rather than self-hypnosis therapy.

Some people who notice a sharp increase or decrease in their blood pressure while doing the AT exercises should check with their doctors if the therapy is bringing their blood pressure to normal afterward. Also, if you are using the therapy to help you control any diseases related to heart problems or circulatory problems, do not replace it with conventional medical treatments but use it as a combination therapy.

Who should avoid Autogenic Training?

female-having-a-mental-breakdownEven though Autogenic Training is a very safe therapy, there are a few exceptions as well. People with severe mental disorders should avoid AT exercises without any professional guidance. They must consult a doctor or their therapist and discuss their concerns before undergoing therapy.

Some of the concerns that are not suitable for Autogenic training are –

  • Delusional Behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Symptoms of Psychosis
  • Dissociation
  • Diabetes
  • Severe Heart Problems
  • Children below 5 years

Do you Know These Tips for Relaxation?

Tune in to meditation podcastsAutogenic training is an effective therapy to manage stress and promote relaxation. That said, some of the other ways for relaxation can be used to achieve a relaxed state of mind and body, which can be helpful for better performance of AT as well.

Here are a few tips for busting your stress and feeling calm:

  1. Getting all anxious thoughts out of your head – Have a bad day or facing an anxious situation? Grab a paper and pen and pour it all down. Penning your thoughts will help release anxiousness and get clarity of thoughts. You can make a habit of writing a journal every day.
  2. Soak up all stress – Soak yourself nicely in a warm tub bath. It not only relieves sore muscles and relaxes your body but also calms an overworked mind. Add a little Epsom salt, turn down the lights, and have a relaxed time of your own. If you don’t have a tub, having a warm shower or soaking your feet in warm water can also help.
  3. Take a nice guided imagery break – Have you heard of guided imagery? Sometimes when you just close your eyes and think of a good time, it instantly makes you feel a little better. Practice this imagery break, and guide yourself into beautiful surroundings, hear the sound, smell nice aromas around, etc.
  4. Tune in to meditation podcasts – It can be difficult concentrating or practicing deep breathing during meditation on your own. There are many podcasts available online that will take you step by step throughout the process. Choose a convenient length of time and a comfortable position that fits your needs.
  5. Try the 3×3 technique –Sometimes it might make an individual more anxious trying to take out time from their busy days for a breathing break. You can try the 3×3 technique. You just need to carve out 3 minutes just 3 times a day. Use a specific breathing technique you feel comfortable with and practice mindful meditation in it.
  6. Make some time for music –Whether it’s listening to a soothing melody, playing a calming instrument, or simply singing along to your favorite song, these can be a great way to feel relaxed. Schedule at least 10-15 minutes each day for music. It is also very helpful to fall asleep while slow and soft music plays in the background.
  7. Practice yoga and tai chi – The amazing combination of yoga and tai chi uses the action of deep breathing with a series of conscious movements. The regular practice of yoga and tai chi promotes deep relaxation and calms your mind and body.
  8. Find people who are calming –The aim is to surround yourself with those who provide you with happy, calming, and relaxing vibes. Especially in times of extreme anxiety or stress, these people around will be helpful to instantly feel better.

Who Offers Autogenic Training?

Teenager girl talking to psychologistAutogenic Therapists are certified specialists trained and qualified in various psychological and comprehensive programs such as stress management, medical meditation certification, etc. You can contact your mental health professionals who can provide AT or suggest you an experienced practitioner. You can also find alternative therapies including Autogenic training in wellness resorts and spas. You can help yourself by searching for therapists online as well. However, before you undergo the training make sure the practitioner is trained and certified.

What are the Qualifications of an Autogenic Therapist?

woman-got-certificationThe standards and programs for all kinds of hypnotherapy practices, including Autogenic training are set by the International Certification Board of Clinical Hypnotherapy (ICBCH). The ICBCH provides the certification to the people who have qualified to offer instructions for practicing Autogenic training to other people. One must complete the intense week-long certification program designed for professionals to become certified Autogenic training therapists.


Autogenic training is a pill of self-hypnosis that helps to get rid of many mental and physical problems without any side effects or risks. It reduces your stress levels, blood pressure, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and also helps fight various other health problems such as cancer, migraines, etc resulting in improving your overall well-being. However, it is recommended to practice this therapy with a certified and professional practitioner for better implementation of exercises and best results.

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