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Notes From The Trauma-Sensitive Yoga 10 Week Course. Week Seven: Emotion in our Bodies (Part One)

(Facilitator Notes from the 10 week Course)

Today we are gong to start talking about the role of our bodies in processing emotions.

Once of the original psychological theories associated with body-based emotional processing was the James-Lang theory of emotion.

The idea was that our conscious experience of an emotion starts in our bodies, with the following sequence of processes.

1. Unconscious perception of an emotionally salient cue

2. Physical response

3. A mental appraisal of that response

Its worth noting, many make a distinction between an emotion and a feeling. An emotional reaction is the physical reaction. While the feeling is our thoughts, or appraisal, or those reactions.

Bodily Maps of Emotions

Research completed in 2014 revealed that there is a general consensus about where in our bodies we feel particular emotions.

700 participants were asked to colour on a body-figure where they feel activation and deactivation for a range of emotions. The areas of deactivation and activation were fairly consistent. An image depicting the results from this study is above.

This was an influential study that, in our modern time, brought to light the role of the body in emotional processing.

Dimensions of Interoception

Interoception can be described across dimensions, for example:

1. Interoceptive awareness- being able to feel body sensations

2. Interoceptive accuracy, or sensitivity- how well someone accurately perceives the sensation

3. Insight- the correspondence between awareness and sensitivity. Sometimes refereed to as metacognitive interoceptive awareness.

The role of interoception in emotional processing

Increased interoceptive accuracy is thought to influence:

1. More general awareness of body states associated with emotions

2. More specific localisation of body areas associated with emotions

3. Increased ability to verbalise our emotional experience

Decrease interoceptive accuracy is thought to influence:

1. Anxiety levels

2. Recognising emotions in others

3. Processing our own emotions

As usual, in our practice today we have the opportunity to bring our attention to body sensations and practice our interoceptive ability and accuracy. Recent research has shown that just one TCTSY yoga class can increase interceptive accuracy.

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