Notes From The Trauma-Sensitive Yoga 10 Week Course. Week Six: Intensity Shifts

(Facilitator Notes from the 10 week Course)


Interoception is the processes of being aware of body sensations and it plays a role in a variety of processes including:

1. Self-awareness.

2. Emotional awareness, i.e., the physical sense of experiencing an emotion

3. Creating physical health and balance (i.e., allostasis and homeostasis)

4. A sense of what's happening in our bodies is helpful when we try to self-regulate


In today's practice we are going to explore intensity shifts in body sensations. It’s a more dynamic way to explore interoception and offers the ability to explore more fine-grained experiences.


Life has a rhythm of contraction and expansion.


We have good days we have bad days.

Sensations and emotions can rise and fall in intensity.

We might have loud and quiet interoceptive cues. Sometimes they might start off quiet and become more intense, or louder over time.


For example, it’s not uncommon for a quiet experience (e.g., physical feelings of low-level stress) to become louder if they go unnoticed (e.g., burnout).


Or we might have subtle emotional states, which we sense as quiet, turn into a louder more physical-based signal that is difficult to ignore.

Similarly, sometimes we might be aware of a rising shift in emotional intensity, or perhaps we have an all or nothing experience of emotions.


Exploring insensitive shifts in our practice can be helpful for a variety of reasons


1. Exploring intensity shifts offers an experience yoga shapes in different ways.

We can move slowly and feel the graduated increase and decrease in intensity, maybe a shift in sensations from one body area to another.

When holding a yoga form our tissues contract or expand over time, perhaps in different body areas. As an option you can observe this by holding a yoga shape.


2. We get to experience our body sensations at a level the works for us in the moment.

On some days just a little sensation can be enough, on other days you might feel it’s more beneficial to change the intensity.

In a way it’s a type of self-controlled dosing. People can differ in the tolerance levels to physical sensations, which can also change from day to day. By you controlling the intensity of the sensations it offers the ability to regulate the practice to suit your present moment needs and interests.


3. We get to practice more fine-grained interoceptive awareness, which ties into become more aware of the graduate transitions of our physical and emotional experiences. This is important because in the middle zones we have more control and capability to create change.


4. We can build distress tolerance to physical and emotional cues. By exploring the middle ground, we become more comfortable with sensations. As a result, when we experience something more intense it is now somewhat familiar and more tolerable. Contrast this with the all-or-nothing experience we might have of physical or emotional experiences. When we find ourselves in the “all” state it can often be intolerable.


Cues used in this session


1. Choice to be more dynamic in shapes

2. Options to move slowly into or out of shapes

3. There will be options to hold and explore changes in body sensation

4. Choice as to how many of these methods you feel like exploring today


Some thoughts to consider


Its OK if you don’t feel intensity shifts. Intoreceptive awareness is something that can be developed with practice.

Also, becoming more aware of body sensations can lead to increase feelings of stress, emotional arousal, or discomfort. In short, it can be confronting or overwhelming. So please feel free to take your time and explore at a pace that suits you.

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