Jacobson training – What is it and what are its effects?

Modern people experience rush, stress and many emotions in their everyday life, which they do not quite know how to deal with. Irritation, fatigue, overstimulation are just some of the signals saying: time to relax and calm down. Yoga teaches, among others: how to achieve true relaxation. Benefits from the benefits of relaxation techniques.

One of them is Jacobson’s autogenic training. Next to Szulc training, it is one of the most frequently used relaxation methods in yoga. Jacobson’s training is very universal, so it can be performed by both children and adults. Independently or under the supervision of a teacher.

Jacobson training – what is it?

Jacobson’s training was created at the turn of the 1920s and 1930s, and its name comes from the name of its creator, American psychiatrist Edmund Jacobson. You may also hear another name for this method: progressive muscle relaxation. Jacobson is also considered a pioneer in the field of biofeedback (a method using biofeedback in the treatment of, among others, epilepsy, ADHD and depression).

The story of how we came to be able to use Jacobson’s relaxation training today is very interesting. Edmund Jacobson began to observe the effect of muscle tension on artists’ ability to perform precise movements. These observations encouraged him to conduct further research on the relationship between mental state and muscle tension.

He scientifically proved the existence of a relationship between excessive muscle tension and mental and emotional disorders. He also showed that reducing tension in the muscular system helps reduce, for example, anxiety. Jacobson believed that if a person learns to relax his muscles, he will also be able to cope with mental tension.

He published the results of his research in 1929 in a book entitled ‘Progressive relaxation’. The most important work of E. Jacobson is considered to be the book entitled ‘You Must Relax’ published in 1934 – has been translated into 13 languages. From 1936 to 1960, Jacobson developed his research at the Clinical Physiology Laboratory in Chicago. He continued it until 1970.

Many years of research and experiments became the basis for the creation of an original technique of progressive muscle relaxation. The main goal of Jacobson’s training is to teach a person to consciously relax specific muscle groups in the body. Starting from the feet, through the middle of the body, ending with the head. Jacobson assumed that if you systematically relax your muscles, you can achieve mental relaxation.

What is Jacobson’s relaxation training?

Jacobson’s autogenic training involves learning how to relax muscles. This, in turn, has a positive effect on your nervous system, freeing you from anxiety. Progressive training can help you calm down and calm down more easily. Jacobson’s training involves tensing and relaxing muscles.

You will also calm down with the “Stress Less” challenge, which can be found at  PortalYogi – Online Jogi Studio.

This means: when you inhale, you tense the selected muscle group and hold this tension for about 5 seconds. As you exhale, you relax your muscles. At the beginning, it is recommended to perform this training in a lying position, which promotes relaxation. You can also exercise in a semi-reclining or sitting position. It is important that your spine is relieved. Do the exercises calmly, without rushing.

Jacobson’s relaxation training is the ability to control stress, which you acquire by learning to naturally experience deeper relaxation. When is the best time to exercise? Choose a moment of the day when you can devote a few minutes just to yourself. Make sure your exercise space is quiet and airy. Turn off the phone, TV, computer. However, you can turn on relaxing music or practice training in silence while listening to your own breathing.

An advanced version of basic training is Jacobson’s progressive training. It involves combining visualization with muscle tension and relaxation. Relaxing imagining places and images additionally enhances the effectiveness of Jacobson’s training. It can be performed once you have mastered the basic technique. You can also adapt it to your individual needs.

Jacobson believed that regular, daily practice of a set of exercises helps activate the ability to automatically relax. This means that the mere thought of wanting to relax your muscles is enough to feel a state of relaxation without making any movements.

What are Jacobson’s training methods?

Jacobson’s autogenic training is divided into two stages:

Gradual relaxation method:

Gradually, you tense individual muscles, individual muscle groups, one by one.

Training Jacobsona

Differential relaxation method:

You tense only the specific muscle group that is needed to perform a specific activity, e.g. you tense your thigh while the rest of your body is relaxed.

Jacobson training – step by step

Dress in something comfortable and warm so that you feel comfortable.
Air your room, you can turn on relaxing music. You can light a candle and a scented fireplace. You don’t have to do this if you’re out in nature. Then lie on the floor on the mat. Before you start relaxing, take 10-20 calm, deep breaths. Close your eyes.

Step 1: Preparation for Jacobson training

Lie in a comfortable position on your back with your knees bent.

Then move your buttocks with your hands towards your heels and straighten your legs. Find a comfortable position in Savasana.

Begin to deepen your breathing by inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Watch how the air flows into and out of you.

Observe the movement of your belly, which rises when you inhale and falls when you exhale. Just focus on this. If you notice any stimuli from the outside, let them support your concentration on your inside.

Gently lengthen your breath.

Step 2: Body scan


Now think about your right foot, your right toes. Wiggle the toes of your right foot, tense your entire right foot tightly, and hold the tension for 5 seconds, then relax. Then think about your left foot. Wiggle her toes, tense the entire foot for a few seconds, then relax.


Then move your attention to your right calf. Breathe into your right calf, imagining that the energy from the air flows into it too and relaxes it even more. Contract your right calf for 5 seconds and then relax it. Then move your attention to your left calf. Breathe into it, observe your calf, maybe you notice some processes taking place in its muscles? Then tense your left calf for a few seconds and while you tense, also observe your calf and then relax it.


Now bring your attention to your right thigh. You can breathe into it. Observe your thigh, allow yourself to feel the sensations coming from it. Now tighten them tight and also observe. Notice the difference between the tension of individual muscles and their relaxation.

Realize this difference. Relax your right thigh. Now bring your awareness to your left thigh.

Breathe, observe, be alert and attentive. Tighten your left thigh. Breathe, observe, be alert and attentive.

Relax your left thigh. Now shift your attention to your buttocks. And again, breathe consciously, observe, be alert and attentive.

relieve tension

Center of the Body

Squeeze your glutes tightly and hold for a few seconds. Then relax them.
Then move your attention to the lower abdomen. Breathe, observe, be alert and attentive. Tense your lower abdomen, squeeze tightly and hold for a few seconds and then relax.

Now bring your attention a little higher to your belly. Observe the processes taking place in the abdomen, follow the air flow, notice how the abdomen rises and falls during breathing. Be constantly attentive. Be an observer. Now tighten your abdominal muscles as much as you can and hold that tension. Breathe, observe, remain alert and mindful, and relax your abdominal muscles.

Now bring your attention to your chest. Various processes also take place there, be an observer of them. Contract your chest a little for a few seconds and then relax.


Then bring your attention to the fingers of your right hand.

You can move them. Observe the entire hand. Now tighten your hand and make a fist. Hold this tension for at least 5 seconds, then relax. Now bring your attention to the fingers of your left hand. Witness the present.

Tense your left hand, straightening all your fingers, and then clench it into a fist. After a few seconds, relax.

Now bring your attention to the area of ​​your right arm, forearm and shoulder. Breathe, observe with mindfulness.

Tense your entire right arm from your shoulders to your fingertips. Hold the tension for a few seconds and release. The right hand is now relaxed. Bring your attention to your left arm, forearm and shoulder. Breathe, observe, be alert and attentive.

Contract your entire left arm to its full length, clench your fists again, and then relax them after a few seconds. The left hand is now relaxed.


Now shift your attention to your neck and nape. You can move your head to the right or left and gently tighten the area and then relax it.


Now focus on the muscles of your face, on your lips, cheeks, nose, eyes and forehead. Breathe, observe, watchfully and carefully. Now tense your entire face as much as possible, making various grimaces. Hold the tension for a few seconds, then relax. Your facial muscles are already relaxed.

Whole body – scanning

It’s time to observe your whole body.

If you still feel any tension somewhere, activate these muscle groups for a moment and relax.

Now we will move on to tensing our entire body, starting with our feet. Focus on both of your feet.

Squeeze your feet as hard as you can and hold on! Add to this tension both calves, thighs, lower abdomen and buttocks, and squeeze them tightly. Also tense your stomach, chest, neck and nape, and both arms from your shoulder blades to your fingertips. Clench your hands into fists.

Add to this the muscles of your face: lips, cheeks, nose, forehead. Tighten your facial muscles and make a grimace appear. Maintain tension throughout your entire body and all its muscles for at least 10 seconds. Breathe, observe, be alert and attentive. Now relax all the muscles in your body, including those that were not relaxed before.

Jacobson’s relaxation training – end of the session

Surrender to the incoming wave of relaxation. Allow yourself to feel the pleasure of relaxation. Breathe, observe, with alertness and mindfulness. You don’t have to think about anything now, just lie there. You can lie there for a few minutes or longer. At the end of your relaxation training, take a few easy breaths. Move your legs and arms gently. Slowly stand up.

After some time of regular practice, you will notice that the world is slightly different than before, as if brighter…

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What are the effects of Jacobson’s training?

Jacobson’s autogenic training primarily prevents anxiety, supports the fight against neurosis, and improves sleep quality. For pregnant women, this training is a great exercise in proper breathing, and young children learn to recognize the symptoms of emotional tension and how to move from a frozen state to a relaxed state.

Numerous scientific studies confirm the effectiveness of Jacobson’s training. In 2021, the National Center for Biotechnology Information published a meta-analysis of research led by Prof. psychology of Loren Toussaint. In this document, experts present specific research that demonstrates both the physical and mental benefits of regular Jacobson training practice.

The effect of Jacobson’s regular training is:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • calming down the mind, body and emotions
  • coping with high nervous tension and excess stress
  • recognizing and controlling symptoms of anxiety
  • relaxation of tense lower back muscles
  • relaxation of tense muscles in the neck area
  • alleviation of migraine symptoms
  • improvement in the functioning of internal organs

Jacobson training – contraindications

Jacobson training is not recommended for people with certain types of muscle diseases, muscle injuries such as inflammation or muscle paresis. If you are a person who suffers from hypertension, it is worth consulting a doctor before starting autogenic training.

In the case of people who have difficulty concentrating and controlling their minds, mastering this technique may be quite a challenge for them. People who suffer from mental disorders or mental illnesses should avoid Jacobson training without consulting a doctor.


To sum up, Jacobson’s training is a combination of muscle tension work and breathing work. The training itself is very simple and you can do it yourself at home. Jacobson’s relaxation training is an effective relaxation technique. It helps reduce stress, alleviate symptoms of anxiety and generally improve your well-being. Remember about contraindications and adapt the technique to your needs. If you have any concerns about Jacobson training, please consult your doctor.

By doing Jacobson’s training gradually and regularly, you can learn to consciously relax your muscles and enter a state of mental relaxation.

training jacobsona


How long does Jacobson’s training last?

A Jacobson Training session usually lasts from 10 to 20 minutes. Beginners are recommended to start with shorter sessions, lasting about 10 minutes, and gradually increase the duration to 20 minutes step by step.

How often should you do Jacobson training?

At first, once or twice a day, and once you master the technique, 3-4 times a week. The key is regularity, i.e. you can do shorter sessions but more often. Choose the time that is most convenient for you. There are people who start the morning with Jacobson’s progressive training, and there is a large group of people who choose the moment before bed to calm down.

Is Jacobson training for children?

Jacobson’s relaxation training is very simple, so it is also suitable for children. They will learn to distinguish the symptoms of emotional tension and to move from a state of tension to relaxation.

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