Pounding – A Bioenergetic Exercise

Illustration of bioenergetic exercise leah benson therapy

Releasing Tension

Pounding exercises are designed to help you release pent-up energy.
Before you pour a drink or turn on the TV after work, try these exercises. They will bring you instantaneous relief from stress, irritation, and many other negative emotions. Let’s say you get home feeling upset about a meeting. You will be containing this feeling by holding the energy in your muscles, tightening your chest, and constricting your breathing. As a species, we generally hold the stress and tension of anger in the chest, belly, back, and shoulders. When you slam down your arms and vocalize, you release that energy in a focused manner. The tension of the muscles of your chest diminishes, you breathe more deeply, and you benefit by feeling calmer over all.

Pounding Exercise

Stand in front of your bed. Make fists and raise them back over your head, arching your body backward so it makes the shape of an archer’s bow. Now slam your fists down on the bed, yelling something like “No!” “Piss off!” or “Get away from me!”, if you can. Or yell any sound as your fists hit the bed. Be sure to bend your knees slightly so that all the force of the movement goes into your fists and your forearms as they slam onto the bed.

If you can’t yell or verbalize, exhale very strongly. Exhalation activates the “relaxation” part of your nervous system. Repeat this movement until you are exhausted, and you will be surprised how calm you feel.

Alternatively, you can face a bed or couch, take a tennis racket, bend backward in the same manner as described above, and slam the tennis racket onto a pillow or the couch itself. You might go into your backyard and slam a sledgehammer down on a tire or a baseball bat on a pile of sandbags.
However you decide to do the movement, be careful that you are not hitting anything but your intended target. Even if you are feeling out of control, this exercise is advised as long as you are not threatening anyone, hurting yourself or anyone else, or being destructive.

This exercise is extra helpful because as you discharge energy through both physical movement and verbal expression, you release more tension than you would if you were to use one or the other on its own.

Below is an excerpt from, “The Way to Vibrant Health” by Alexander Lowen. In this passage, Lowen describes why the bioenergetic pounding exercise is useful:

Expressing Anger

A person should be free enough to be able to express his anger physically where it is appropriate. Most people are too frightened of violence to be able to express anger in a physical way without extreme provocation. There is a taboo in our culture against hitting, which is unfortunate since it mostly operates to render innocent people helpless before bullies.

Are you frightened of your own potential for violence? In that case, repeated use of the exercise will reduce your anxiety and give you more control over your anger.

Interested in anger management or reducing the tension in your life?  Give me a call. We’ll talk.

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