Autogenic training exercise

About autogenic training

Autogenic training is a relaxation technique developed by the German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz and first published in 1932.

The technique involves the daily practice of sessions that last around 15 minutes, usually in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening. The technique can help alleviate symptoms of stress. During each session, the practitioner will repeat a set of visualisations that induce a state of relaxation. It is a method for influencing one's autonomic nervous system. Autogenic Training restores the balance between the activity of the sympathetic (flight or fight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest) branches of the autonomic nervous system. This has important health benefits, as the parasympathetic activity lowers the blood pressure, slows the heart rate, and promotes the functions of the immune system.

Symptom effectiveness

Autogenic training has been found to be effective in reducing general symptoms of anxiety, irritability and fatigue. It can also be useful to increase resistance to stress and reduce sleeping problems. It can help you during periods of stress to feel more relaxed and be able to concentrate more effectively.

  1. Heaviness, which promotes relaxation of the voluntary muscles of the limbs, reversing the tension in the limbs typical of the stress response
  2. Warmth, which opens the blood vessels in your arms and legs, reversing the flow of blood to the center of the body typical of the stress response
  3. Regular heartbeat, which helps to normalize the heart rate, reversing the quickened heart rate characteristic of the stress response
  4. Regular breathing, which helps to normalize breath rate, reversing the quickened breath rate characteristic of the stress response
  5. Relaxation and warming of the abdomen, which reverses the flow away from the digestive system typical of the stress response
  6. Cooling of the head, which reverses the flow of blood to the brain typical of the stress response


Autogenic training is not recommended for individuals with severe mental or emotional disorders. If you have any health issues, you should consult with your doctor prior to beginning autogenic training. If you feel very anxious or restless or experience any adverse side effects during or after autogenic training , please discontinue and consult a professional Autogenic Training instructor or your doctor.


  • Plan on practising autogenic training at least once a day. It only takes 8 minutes.
  • Keep external stimuli to a minimum
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Choose one of the three basic AT postures
  1. Sit in an armchair in which your head, back and extremities are supported and you are as comfortable as possible
  2. Sit on a stool, slightly stooped over, with your arms resting on your thighs and your hands draped between your knees
  3. Lie down with your head supported and your legs about eight inches apart, your toes pointed slightly outward, and your arms resting comfortably at your sides but not touching your body.
  • Scan your body to be sure that the position you choose is tension free.
  • Close your eyes or pick a point in front of you to softly focus on.
  • Take a few slow, deep and relaxing breaths before you begin to repeat your autogenic formulas.

Listen to the autogenic training audio file (MP3 10.2 MB)

If you'd like more support, come along to one of our workshops or make an appointment for individual counselling.

Explore student workshops

Make a counselling appointment