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A Morning in the park…a story on shock and safety

Claudia Kratzheller

Let me tell you a story on shock and safety :
a surprising encounter between the human and a dog world…

During the summer, I am in the habit of practicing yoga outside in the park.
One day this happened:

I roll out my mat in a quiet, secluded place under the trees and dive into my ritual of practice.
After a while I am immersed in deep letting go, all alarm guards are down, and my body and soul are poured down in a pure alpha yin state…

Out side practice

Suddenly out of nowhere with the speed of light comes a curly cannonball of a little dog, running at me, blaffing and harring, his whole body all excitement and play

– and definitely not respecting a yogini in deep alpha state on the floor…

He jumps up and down at me, licks my face, grabs my jacket as a trophy, jumps and barks, all happy and excited, from his perspective, it’s all fun and discovery.

Looking from the outside as an observer it must have been quite a funny situation.
For me, from the inside, it felt like hell.

My body is in deep shock.
My nervous system is from 0 – to 100 from deepest relaxation into a high alarm state
I am up on my feet in a split second and hear myself shouting at the dog, and its owner:

I demand:
“Put your dog on the leash.
Right NOW! “

The owner : “Oh hij doet niks….- hij wil alleen maar spelen.”…-)

I bark:
“He shocks me, he disturbs me, he’s stealing my things. I do not like it.
Put him on the leash.


The woman hunts after her little cannonball of a dog, manages to make him let go of my jacket, gives it back to me, and disappears into the woods without any other word. -)


There I am, my nervous system still in shock.
I am upset and deranged. My heart is beating like a drum.
The outside practice has its pitfalls…sometimes!

What to take from that story?
What was meant as play in the eyes of the dog reached my nervous system as intense shock.
It roughly disrupted my peaceful practice but also showed me:

I was able to switch like a cat from total letting go to action mode.
Transform in the speed of light from tranquil meditative state to the commander in control.

So yes: when an intruder comes my way, I can trust to function very fast to take action.
Be it a lion, a puppy dog or other potential aggressor -)

How do you react in situations of sudden shock?
Do you freeze? Are you relaxed? Do you fight? Do you like the rush of adrenaline in your blood?
Do you escape- and run away?

This short story is an example of the Fight-Flight-freeze reflex.
The survival mechanisms of our nervous systems, that are deeply rooted in us.

What do you need in order to feel safe?
A closed room, a quiet home, familiar people to connect with, nature ?

When we look at nature, in all its beauty it’s also a savage place:
all beings have to be in a state of alertness. Almost constantly.

It’s an act of survival to be alert, to not end up being the dinner of someone else.-)

To be safe.

In animal world, the creatures developed a system where the whole tribe can be safe:
Team work: one guard is taking watch over the tribe to alarm the group in case of potential danger.
It’s an act of trust to let go and delegate responsibility to the guard.

As humans we often use the borders of a closed space or studio to provide for safety, physically.
As teacher you are responsible for the inner safety of everybody, energetically.

When you are in a yoga class, it’s one of the basic needs to be safe:
to let go, to go deep, to explore, to dis-cover.

Here are some points for reflection:
Notice if your nervous system is in a constant state of alertness or innate alarm.
Create conditions for yourself where you can truly let go – in safety.

Practice yoga. Inside a closed space…
Outside: …speak with dog owners to educate their dogs..ha! -)

Be part of a tribe. Choose it. 
Worship and train your ability to switch from alarm state to alpha state.

It’s fun to be part of a tribe – and also to keep doing what you love!
I will continue to practice in the park, dogs or not!

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