How Does Relaxation Training Differ from Doing Relaxation in a Yoga Class?

If you have ever attended even just the occasional yoga class, you may have experienced the wonderful “other-worldly” feeling of deep relaxation at the end of a class, where you have become almost completely unaware of your body any more and have just felt as though you were floating and your mind was totally dissociated from any daily concerns or “to-do” lists – either that, or you fell asleep! – as attested to by the light snoring sounds often discerned at the end of such classes! Either way, you probably felt as though you just wanted to stay there and never come back – which is what many people say as they get up to leave a class. Unless you regularly practise relaxation techniques, meditation or self-hypnosis, you may never before have experienced such a deeply relaxed state (termed the “relaxation response” by Harvard doctor, Herbert Benson, M.D., back in the 1970s).

Practising yoga, Tai Chi, meditation and related practices can be wonderful methods of experiencing relaxation, and can help train us to elicit the “relaxation response” more easily. When we are doing the practices, we feel great – relaxed, focused, mindful (in the present moment). However, one problem can be that we attend a class, maybe once or twice a week, and feel great during the class – but the minute we leave, we are back to our rushing around, our mental “to-do” lists, our daily worries, fears, anxieties, planning, emails, texts, voicemails, etc..  and our poor body and mind have to wait until the next time we go to class to get a break! We can end up “compartmentalising” our experience of relaxation, instead of learning how to integrate it into our daily lives, so that we can tune in and switch down to a more relaxed and beneficial way of operating more and more of the time. And that lack of integration into our lives can have a great toll on our physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing, our productivity, and our quality of life in general.

That’s where Relaxation Training (or Applied Relaxation) comes in. We can learn to operate our lives in a more relaxed way more of the time. And this can make us more productive, happier and healthier, by increasing our mental and emotional resilience, boosting our immune system, increasing our ability to experience joy (“light-heartedness”), switching off “disease” genes, and reducing our susceptibility to (or enhancing our recovery from) stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and so on.

Relaxation Skills Training involves a number of stages, and I’ll describe these in more detail in a later blog entry, along with the wider benefits. But basically the stages are: 1) experience deep relaxation; 2) practise eliciting this state; 3) learn to elicit relaxation “on cue”; 4) imagine facing anxiety/stress situations – usually in hypnosis – while practising your relaxation skills; 5) use your relaxation skills in “real-world” situations; 6) your relaxation skills become integrated into your everyday life.

If you’d like to find out more about relaxation skills training or hypnotherapy, or if you have any other questions, please contact me at AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey by email or phone (see top right of this page). Amanda Jackson-Russell: clinical and cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapist; stress management consultant; relaxation, meditation and mindfulness instructor; researcher, editor and writer.


What is hypnotherapy? It is learning how to optimise and utilise the incredible depths and power of your own mind for your own health and wellbeing, and for the highest expression of you own positive potential in your life…

The only things that most people “know” about hypnosis or hypnotherapy are what they have seen on the TV, in stage hypnosis programmes or somewhat dated movies. Unfortunately, these are most usually very sensationalist and inaccurate representations of what hypnosis can do and what the many benefits of hypnotherapy can be. I grew up with a very enlightened mother who introduced my older brother and myself, at a very early age, to the general principles of self-hypnosis, in a very simple, benign and inspiring way. We learned about positive thinking, about “programming” ourselves to sleep peacefully and deeply through the night, and even how to enhance our abilities to memorise poems or maths formulae to help us with our school work. I’m not sure how my Mum knew about such abilities, apart from her own experiences and a lot of reading, as it was not until many years later that she finally had the time and opportunity to actually train as a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist. But those early years’ learning experiences stayed with me throughout my formative years and are still with me, among many other enlightened and spiritual influences of my mother. Despite our differences in other ways, we both understood, instinctively, about the power of the mind and how it shapes your experiences and your very existence, and that it is ultimately up to you how you control it and make good use of it.

Despite these influences, I came to hypnotherapy kind of by the back door – although maybe part of it was a reluctance to follow in my mother’s footsteps, being something of a rebellious and “independent-minded” individual (again here, I am my mother’s daughter!). I initially trained and worked as a medical scientist, specialising in neuroscience – the influence of the brain and nervous system over our bodily functioning, health and behaviour… (or the power of the mind…?). In parallel, I studied and trained as a yoga teacher, which led me to teaching relaxation and meditation techniques, which incorporated the use of self-hypnosis, auto-suggestion, affirmations and therapeutic imagery. On another parallel, I also trained in and practised spiritual healing and counselling, using virtually the same techniques, if with a slightly different “bent”. Later I trained in a number of holistic therapies, practising in large part stress management and emotional therapy. Finally, following my mother’s passing, I had the time and opportunity (almost at the same age as she had) to study and train in hypnotherapy “proper”. I feel I have come home. I am now able to incorporate all those years and experiences and varied trainings into my approaches to my clients, to facilitate their healing on a variety of levels, according to their individual needs.

So, what is hypnotherapy? Hypnotherapy teaches you how to harness the positive power of your own mind to enable you to take control of your life, your thought processes, your emotions and moods, your actions and reactions, your health and wellbeing – to become more aware of how you are using this immense power and to help you maximise its benefits. It helps you recognise how you might be sabotaging your own efforts and intentions, by identifying faulty thought patterns, beliefs and self-talk. It helps you realise how your thought processes influence your moods and emotions, and vice versa. And it helps you see how your habitual unhelpful thoughts and feelings (which you actually have the power to change, given the right methods and techniques) affect your behaviour, reactions, interactions with others, your general health and wellbeing, and ultimately the “colour”, “shape” and “success” of your life – your aspirations, desires, dreams and goals – both in the present and in the future.

Forget what you have seen on the TV and in the movies, or have read about in popularist magazines and newspapers. Hypnosis in nothing like that, and hypnotherapy has nothing to do with those portrayals. If you want to learn how to discover and optimise the power of your own mind, for your own health, wellbeing, success, emotional harmony, peace of mind, personal satisfaction, self-esteem and self-efficacy, and to bring about positive changes in your life, then I urge you most earnestly to give it a try!

Clinical, cognitive-behavioural and traditional approaches to hypnotherapy, emotional freedom technique (EFT), Reiki therapy, and training in relaxation skills, meditation, mindfulness and self-hypnosis are available from AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey, at clinics in Ashtead, Great Bookham and Ewell, which are close to Epsom and Leatherhead, Surrey (close to Junction 9 of the M25). Please visit other parts of this website, and/or phone or email for further information or to book an appointment (see contact details at top right of this blog page). I look forward to meeting you. Amanda Jackson-Russell, Clinical & Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapist, EFT Practitioner, Reiki Master, Relaxation & Meditation Instructor, MNFSH, Medical Writer & Editor.