Yoga of Dog Walking

Beyond “Whimp” Cultivating Courage (Part I)

What is Yoga of Dog Walking? In short, if you want to know your yoga practice is working then, walk a dog.

Why do you practice yoga? Or why do you take any actions in your life for that matter?

Now, post your answer in the comment field below in one or two sentences. Try not use too many words – whatever comes to mind. Do it quick!

Photo Credit: Anna Sheinman “Blue Lake with Rocky”
You can say that this is a very loaded question.  Nonetheless, you might be wasting your time and consequently your life if you can’t answer it.

I am My Best Friend

Photo Credit: Diane Johnson Rocky Socializing”

I go first. I practice yoga to become my best friend. In other words, I need to know myself. In fact, everything I do revolves around gaining an insight into the self. I don’t like being myself. Rather, I’d like to work towards being my best possible self. At the same time, always working on eliminating toxic parts of myself.

I have a four-fold formula to work towards my best possible self:

  1. Learn who I am with all my strengths and flaws.
  2. Get a feedback.
  3. Create a plan of actions to improve.
  4. The system of accountability (carrot and stick – this is not self-beating!).

For example, let’s say that I am trying to lose weight. Firstly, I know that my tendencies are to use food when I am stressed or bored. I’ve learned that fact by keeping track in my daily log (writing) and meditation practices. So, I incorporated play and changed my perception of stress. Secondly, as a feedback mechanism, I use a scale and a measurement tape. Sometimes, I reach out to people I admire and who walked the way. Thirdly, I plan my meals. Next, if I don’t follow through, I stop eating chocolates. On the other hand, when do, I reward myself with a massage, hike or a spa day.

In fact, the weight loss and muscle building are quite simple things to achieve.

But what about character building qualities like courage? Can we change some of the fundamental workings of ourselves?

What Do You Choose: Love or Fear?

Photo credit: Anna Sheinman NYC Trapeze

I am a realistic optimist. However, I am a fatalist by nature. From time to time, my world is black and white. Life blessed me with many experiences (some of them were near-death) even though I am only 41 years young. With that in mind, I tend to think of myself as one tough and courageous individual. However, my life kicks me in my arse time and time again.

And it is great!

For example, my heart yearns for adventures. However, I often freeze with fear. For instance, when I’ve tried flying trapeze, I lost my ability to move and understand language. Next, when I rock-climbed for the first time, I only froze in the middle of the mountain. Finally, I nearly burn my skis after I got splattered in the midst of the mountain.

On the other hand, I am very persistent and can’t accept “no” as an answer. So, I kept rock-climbing until I reached the top of the mountain. Similarly, I practiced trapeze flying until I was not frozen. Also, I got to the good intermediate level in skiing. Again, I was scared every time I’ve taken risks. But, I was able to work through the fear.

In fact, there are only two emotions in my world: love and fear.

Why Do You Freeze with Fear?

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/
Staying frozen in place is the defense mechanics. One problem with the freeze response that it can cause you to be paralyzed by fear. There is brain pathway that may be the root of this response to freezing. The University of Bristol discovered a chain of neural connections originated in the cerebellum. These neural connections can cause the body to automatically freeze when activated by a real or imagined, threatening stimuli.
The good news is that you can rewire your brain if your love is stronger than your fear.
So, fear is rooted deeply in your brain. And your brain is just like any muscle – with some flexing – you can override these neurobiological impulses.

How Dogs Can Train Us?

Photo Credit: Anna Sheinman – “Dog’s Life”
One of my favorite play activities is to spend time with my dog (Rocky) exploring the magnificent Rocky Mountains.  My four-year-old pup is about 65 pounds of pure muscle and very high energy. Rocky is very picky whom he befriends.  I never know if we will play with a dog or bite their heads off. With this in mind, I don’t allow him to interact with other dogs on the trail.
My strategy is to take him on walks super early where there are practically no chances to bump into anyone. Equally important, I carry water spray, pepper spray and use different collars.

Not to mention, that I’ve spent the last four years on changing my behavior and learning the dog language. Rocky and I got very lucky to train with Altitude Dog Training.

With all that said, we’ve gone a long way. Rocky never bit anyone’s head off. He is super trained. Of course, I was able to handle most of the situations until my recent mini-crisis attack.

Don’t Allow A Single Battle to Throw You Down 

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/

It is disappointing to lose a battle. But shit happens. We can lose our business, jobs, loved ones, even our health.

Just like life, the war is not over yet! If your business fails or you loose your job, you can find a new one. You can change your diet and lifestyle to get better or die trying.

With that in mind, I lost my battle as I allowed two neighborhood dogs to attack my dog. It is irrelevant what the other pet parent or their dogs were doing. As a matter of fact, I only have control over my actions and energy.

So, at this moment all my training went to waste. I froze and failed to protect the one I love the most. Instead of using the pepper spray or kicking the dog, I froze with fear, restricted my dog and allowed the attack. Luckily, Rocky only got his eye scratched and I got quite a few bruises. It could’ve been worst.

Stop Being a Sissy

James Fox and Tim Ferriss were discussing how most of the English-speaking people around the world are becoming a thin-skinned and weak nation.
In my example, I was totally sinking when I came home from this accident. I feel sorry for myself. Also, I was disappointment that I utterly failed in battle.
So, I am not a tough as I think. Now, what?
Deliberate Practice.
Photo Credit: Brian Bergford
It was time to stop feeling sorry for myself and take actions! In all honesty, it was challenging to give up my doggie walk. Especially, as a fatalist, it seemed that it was a permanent thing.
Fortunately, I am gifted with two amazing men in my life. The first one is my husband. And the second one is my mentor – Brian Bergford (with altitude dog training). Instead of feeling sorry for me, they both provided constructive feedback. Firstly, both men agreed that my hand-eye coordination sucks. While, I realized that I need to stop freezing when facing imaginary or real fear.
While my husband helped me with tools to improve my hand-eye coordination. Brain and I brainstormed on how to conquer my freeze response and discussed the plan of action.
Coming up in the next blog! Stat tuned…

Thanks for reading, please share your story.

What didn’t kill you and made you stronger?

3 comments

  1. I’ve overcome my own fear of running into loose dogs here in our rural NC area by being prepared and carrying tools on me for self-defense purposes, very similar to you. My tools are a loud whistle, vinegar spray, pepper spray, and I now also carry a flashlight/taser combo with me at night time (found on Amazon for 50 bucks).

    While having those tools handy and ready to use is one part of my equation for dog walking, the other one is the peace of mind those tools provide and thus make me feel more confident. I KNOW that I can pepper spray the heck out of a dog if need be, and I KNOW that I can call for help with my whistle should we be attacked by a loose dog or a human perpetrator, for that matter.

    I’ve also overcome my fear of going on longer road trips on my own, accompanied only by my dogs. I was terrified the first time I prepared to debark on a 12 hour road trip. I have since done it several times and am now confident in my ability to pull it off. I think pushing ourselves outside of our respective comfort zones really makes us grow. You are so right that we have to face our fears.

    • Thanks, Barbara! These would be useful tools to add to your toolbox! I don’t typically walk when it is dark. Also, have a whistle.
      Certainly calm and assertive energy on walks is the key.

      Yes, we need to keep facing fears. Still, personally, I need to improve my hand-eye-coordination. I think one part of the problem is that I never played sports or video games as a kid…

      You are my hero!

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