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Author of "Yoga and the Twelve Step Path", I have been a yoga teacher for several years. My primary focus is on classes designed for people recovering from addictions. I take my classes to recovery homes, halfway houses,detention centers and jails. I also lead Y12SR groups in San Jose and Campbell, CA. I am a certified Yoga of Recovery Counselor. I have designed a certification course for yoga teachers titled S.O.A.R. - Success Over Addictions and Relapse which I co-lead with Kent Bond.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Staying Tidy in All my Relationships- Body Mind and Spirit

Saucha is a yogic observation of cleanliness. This discipline is practiced to remove everything that stands in the way of our connection to the divine. In recovery we approach this as well. We have steps to keep our attitudes, behaviors and relationships in right order (particularly steps four and ten, as well as six and seven.) We work through the steps to gain unfettered access to our higher power. In the rooms we talk about "keeping our side of the street clean", a very telling phrase as it is often MUCH easier to observe and make suggestions to another before looking at and changing oneself.  I know.  I have worked on this for a while.

Yogis start with saucha at a physical level.  Cleanliness and tidiness prepare us for deeper review of ourselves.  Keeping our rooms, our spaces our goods clean is a beginning. Use of the neti pot, the tongue scraping, and other digestive system practices remove toxins from the body. Advanced breath practices clean the respiratory system. Along with the physical practices of cleaning the body, prevention comes in: having a clean lifestyle moves us toward the divine and away from ways and things that will bring impurity - impurity to body, mind and spirit. As we attend to the physical the mental and spiritual cleanliness follow.  We head in the ultimate direction of harmony in body, mind and spirit. 

In early recovery we may need to learn some basic forms of self care, routine, and tidiness.  Keeping a clean sink, a clean bed, and clean rooms can be a difficult discipline.  Being accountable, responsible and  presentable can be a "tall order", but through these practices we can gain self esteem. I worked on this for a long time- finding balance; not going overboard into perfection, and not skimping either.  Later in recovery I found I also needed to keep the quality of my relationships clean.  This was not only continuing the practices of non-lying, non-stealing and non-harming (to name a few) but in understanding MYSELF and how I responded to others. I needed to dig into my motives, of pride and manipulation, of wanting and avoiding. In this way I was finding cleanliness of spirit that would bring me closer to my higher power.

My other program recovery challenges were that I had to acquire tools to keep my on my own side of the street- to know what was mine to do and not mine to do.  I needed to learn to call myself to rights when taking the inventory of another person. Practicing to responding appropriately to what is before me and not what I want to have before me was a big step.  Using acceptance in seeing what IS as it is and noting that it is NOT all about me.  I am learning to respond from my insides not your outsides. Yours is not mine to change.  I stay clean of ulterior motives when I ask for something, say something or do something. I stay neat and tidy unto myself. That does not mean that I don't relate or respond.  I do so respecting you and your opinion, your space.  

Yoga suggests that we are practicing in order to gain mastery over the senses, and a fitness, qualification or capability for self realization.  The program, too, encourages us to work the steps in order to have the spiritual awakening.  To find our connection with our divine spirit; inside and out. Yoga and recovery support one another on this beautiful path.
Saucha is a daily practice. Wake up, make your bed, brush your teeth, use your "mental floss" in meditation, move your physical body and breath deeply.  Tidy up and head into your day refreshing your spiritual connection in all that you do. 

Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200, RTY500 is the author of "Yoga and the Twelve Step Path", a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse). This certification training now available in an ONLINE study course.   http://www.yogarecovery.com/SOAR__tm__Cert_all.html Scroll to the end of the page and sign up now.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

5 Aids in Preventing Relapse

Preventing Relapse Five Ways

I love my fellowship as a group and I love each person in the group. When one person is going through difficulty, we are all affected, and we all suffer when the disease takes one person out. This is a "cunning, baffling and powerful" disease and we must each remain vigilant to avoid the being drawn back into its grasp. I met a man the other day who doesn't have a group, wants recovery and avoids meeting. And I felt concerned for him.

Life is not always rosy and we (I) have to be in a habit of being with recovery friends in order to have that practice in place when life turns dark or grey. There is some wise advice out there to prevent relapse- and much of it has to do with the power of the group.

1. Stay close to your peeps! The "L" of HALT is a warning sign; when isolation looks preferable to community, when alienation feels more comfortable than inclusion, beware! This is a dangerous time, one in which you may be tempted to backslide; to use, to drink, to call a dangerous person, light a cigaret, eat, take up cards or any of the many behaviors we are working so hard to overcome. Instead- get to a meeting and be with your sangha, your group. Just sit with them in community, quietly. No need to be the center of activity, just BE - in safety.

2. Be in service. That's right - give away what you may, today, not believe you have. You do have experience, strength and hope even if it was the e,s and h of yesterday. Sometimes being in need is being of service. Allowing another person to lift you up gives them strength. We share in this seesaw mutual dance of giving and receiving support. But you have to show up, to be there to participate in the dance.

3. Listen to/for the solution. We are not all crazy (or blue) on the same day. Coming to meetings will affirm the good and remind you of the not so swell. We "tell on" ourselves and we share our difficulties and our strengths. In compassion and understanding you can see yourself; the good and the struggling. Go to a meeting and hear someone else tell your story.  Listen with your whole heart.

4. Pick up the phone. I know - this can be archaic - not a text, a tweet, an email or a social posting. Call. Why? You have no idea what is going to come out of your mouth! The truth pops out and you had no idea you "felt like that". The typing and the possible social posturing may in fact obscure your true feelings, and this person to person contact is critical (see #1 above).

5. Finally (and foremost) stay close to your higher power - you no longer have to be an "army of one". You are part of it ALL, humanity, the universe and everything! Check in with your higher power frequently. Be close to your HP, practice this communications when you are feeling fine so that the link is there when things are not so fine. Alone, we are in danger. Reach out. Stay in the tribe, the pack, the sangha, the kula, the posse. Stay with your peeps and keep the addiction at bay. When they are not available, in the dawn of day or the gloom of night, pray. With your higher power, you are not alone.

ps - There are many other tools to prevent relapse which include getting to know yourself, your feelings, be in good health, and knowing your danger / trigger points. Having them handy could save your life.

(reivsed 10/2/2014)

Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200, RYT500 author of “Yoga and the Twelve Step Path”, CRP 2012,  is a yoga instructor specializing in teaching yoga to people in recovery. She is also the creator of the S.O.A.R.(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) certification program for yoga teachers.  She holds both in person and ONLINE S.O.A.R.(™) training programs. Somatics and trauma sensitivity as well as recovery language are a trademark of her style.  Online recovery oriented yoga classes are available at http://yogarecovery.studiolivetv.com/MemberRegistrationYR.aspx
If you are a yoga teacher ready to take your calling and service to a new level you can find out more about Kyczy and the SOAR(tm) program.

You can follow her at www.yogarecovery.com ,  kyczy@twitter.com and facebook.com/kyczy

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Feelings are Not Facts - the Danger of Spiritual Bypass- Death of a Sponsor

Two ends of a spectrum; two ways to approach feelings when possibly there is a middle way.

As the adult child of an alcoholic I suffer from both frozen feelings and dramatic excess.  I know how to emote even when I don't know how to feel.  

Early in recovery I heard the phrase "feelings are not facts."  It helped me with panic, with fear, with anxiety, with the overwhelming sensations I would get when thinking about the future, and with the dread of dealing with the past.  At first I used this phrase to discount my feelings, to intellectualize them, to say "this isn't happening NOW so the feelings shouldn't exists".  I sent my feelings underground.  I missed an important point.  The feelings were VALID; they were NOT signals informing me of immanent danger which was how I experienced them. They WERE signals; that something was going on, that if I could find someplace safe, some emotional sanctuary I could investigate them.   Understanding that the feelings were not ACTUAL events helped me bring them to the right size.  KEY POINT : the right size.  I still had feelings- they were less dramatic and chaotic.

Later, I came to think that evidence of a "successful" recovery was to have only positive feelings; feelings of safety, sanity, of confidence and compassion.  If I was sad it meant I wasn't practicing the principles.  If I was fearful is meant I had no faith.  If I felt anxiety it meant I had issues with control. If I felt resentment it meant I was lacking acceptance. Every negative feeling indicated a failure to be following my program well.  There were times when I was ashamed of expressing my feelings; I didn't want anyone to think I was "doing it wrong".   It took time, but eventually I became a REBEL AA chick and told it like it was- unlovely, painful and difficult.  That helped me heal.  From frozen feelings, to feelings too big to be dealt with, through denial to expression, feeling them and letting them go.

I later chose a career where being together helped others feel safe.  I led classes, had private students, and wrote. I still do.  I back-slided to an old way of dealing with feelings. I looked at my job as something special; these are situations in which I felt my personal condition needed to be in balance and "resolved" without leaking emotions or states of being that would distract from the work with my students.  I had to have edges in place so that you, the student, could feel secure in finding your feelings and boundaries. This meant, I thought, that none of my feelings could be expressed publicly or show in any situation where my student might see me.

I fell back into the intellectualizing of my feelings, discounting them through mental machinations of "understanding" rather than processing.  This helped to put them aside so I could "do my work." It was not healthy.  Left in the dark they had an impact on my life and decisions even though  I was not admitting to the emotions.  They would come out... some way, somehow.

The danger came when I found myself practicing "spiritual bypass" as the way of setting feelings aside.   I meditated on feeling neutral, I used my mind to rationalize, reason and denounce my negative emotions. I didn't take the time to investigate, love, accept and process anything that would stand in the way of being in service.  I truly felt that if I "put it all in neutral" that I would serve people better.  Eventually, I choked.  I am too healthy now to go long with FROZEN FEELINGS.  I do come back to treating myself as I would a dear friend and advise her to let go, to give in, to feel. That there is NO SINGLE RIGHT WAY to process grief, memories, anger, sadness, loss or any one of the other many emotions one visits in a full life, a life lived fully.

I came back to seeing myself with compassionate eyes.
And then my sponsor died.  My grief and sadness were stuffed down for a days.  I had known the end was near. I knew she was ill and it was her time to go.  "Just not yet" was the phrase that came to mind over and over.  I wanted to write, I wanted to cry, I wanted to be aware of a VOID- but nothing came. I felt distracted, I felt tired, I felt unfocused and cross. I was worried that I was either suffering from frozen feelings OR that I had been practicing spiritual bypass,  that somehow I was not grieving right. 

I paced around inside myself thinking "What the heck!" and then it came to me: "This IS how I grieve!"  It was this way with the passing of my father and of my mom, and in may passings since.  I didn't cry out loud, I didn't become inert and devastated in a dramatic way, I just came "unglued" not is a big way, not so that you would notice, but in a deep and frightening way inside.  I lost internal edges, and have the feeling of being unmoored, untethered, adrift.

I became ME without YOU.  The void was there- this feeling WAS a fact.  And I didn't want to circumvent the feelings by becoming neutral. Not frozen, not bypassed, and not discounted.  This is how I grieve.  And it will take as long as it takes.

(Read more about feelings in this Psychology Today article.)
Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200, RTY500 is the author of "Yoga and the Twelve Step Path", a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a teacher certification training now available in an ONLINE study course.  Scroll to the end of the page and sign up now http://www.yogarecovery.com/SOAR__tm__Cert_all.html

You may also take her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Meditation and Intentions

For a period of 10 days I had been using a guided meditation to refresh my morning practice. I discovered an useful intention-setting meditation; "Listening to Your Inner Voice" by Lori Leyden.  I was surprised; it truly has had an impact on my days.

I try guided meditations from time to time; and while I benefit from all moments in meditation some experiences linger. This practice has been one of those. I have been struggling with a challenge and the guidance provided here, along with my desire to face my barriers and boundaries, is the perfect union with my practice right now. Sitting quietly, becoming conscious of my safety, my willingness to grow and feel differently than I do now (practicing satya and aparigraha) and allowing, without constraint or control, to let the truth unfold slowly, I found my intention. I did not come to the cushion with a specific intention in mind. I came to the cushion with an openness to the possibilities; the possibility of change.

This is what the journey into a sober life has been for me. I did have an intention at first - to STOP IT! I wasn't sure what IT was; I did know that it would entail putting down the drink and drugs, but I had no idea what would come next. I just showed up. I found safety in the rooms, I became honest, and I became willing. I learned to let go: to let go of who I was and let go of what I thought was "going to happen".  And my life got better; the future opened up and while all situations have not been rosy - they have led to rosy moments and a life I could never have imagined.

So - being open to the intention discovered in this meditation was kind of like being a new comer to my life. I have jerks and pauses, and then cruise along with the smooth deep breath of moments that allow my days to be beautiful.

If you are interested try it! I am posting it here for your listening pleasure!

Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200, RTY500 is the author of "Yoga and the Twelve Step Path", a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a certification training now available in an ONLINE study course.  Go to the website, scroll to the end of the page and sign up now http://www.yogarecovery.com/SOAR__tm__Cert_all.html

You may also take her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Being Public Invites Ego - The Gratitude Challenge

I am in the middle of an online "Gratitude Challenge".  This is a form of public declaration of gratitude for which you are named by someone having just completed the process. You then pick up the challenge, complete it yourself but posting three things a day for a number of days and at the end nominate three more people.  They then continue with the process.

At first I kind of liked the idea of all these positive statements being put out on the internet; a cosmic positive list per day to offset the negativity that can crop up. The first time I participated it was fun. I was light hearted and excited about it. I read other's and they were the same. Then things got serious;  post were more "profound" and "heavy".  I, of course, followed suit.

The subsequent "nominations" were not as fun; in fact I was aware of this shift in my sense of gratitude and what I wanted to put out there.  I, too, wanted my gratefulness to have weight and substance, to reflect the deep sense of thankfulness I have for my BEing.  But stating it in public overwhelmed me.

I am a gratitude professional. I am grateful throughout the day. I drop something; I am grateful it didn't break, or that I caught it.  I loose my way driving somewhere and I am grateful for the yards and gardens I get to see that I would otherwise have missed.  I check the wrong book out of the library and I am happy for the opportunity to read something the universe had picked for me. And so on.

But what I feel compelled to post ONLINE has morphed into something different.  Like putting on my best clothes for a special visit, I want to pick out the best and most "public worthy" (whatever that is) aspects of my life to place in public for my practice.

Yes, once again my ego has intervened to make a right mess of a simple process.  Just write down three things.  BUT people are going to read them, and probably judge me, and think about how shallow I am if there are things like finding your phone under the car seat, or remembering to pick up a friend's item from the lost and found at the yoga studio. The public statements of gratitude must be PROFOUND.

As this challenge has become the ALS IceBucket of internet postings, reading the lists of others is also having less of an impact. I used to read each one with relish, they ALL started out simple, silly, fun and light.  But after the subjects of recovery, family, and friends have been exhausted those posts, too, often became heavy, esoteric.  Not YOURS but some :-).

I would feel churlish if I didn't follow the challenge, but I am enjoying it less.  But now, having investigated the impact of my ego on the process, I think I will come off my high horse and be less fancy.

So, next time you read my gratitude posts, know that I will be more honest, more realistic and less vast. You have been warned!

Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200, RTY500 is the author of "Yoga and the Twelve Step Path", a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a teacher certification training now available in an ONLINE study course.  Go to the website, scroll to the end of the page and sign up now http://www.yogarecovery.com/SOAR__tm__Cert_all.html

You may also take her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Not Waving but Drowning"

In the wake of yet another death due to the pain of life - Robin Williams leaving this earth- I posted a poem that seems to have struck a chord with many.  Here it is in full:

Not Waving but Drowning

BY STEVIE SMITH 1902 - 1971
Nobody heard him, the dead man,   
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought   
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,   
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always   
(Still the dead one lay moaning)   
I was much too far out all my life   
And not waving but drowning.

Some of the responses to the FB post were:
"WOW. "Not waving but drowning ". When you get too famous and too big - other people are afraid to come close, people seem to think you don't need much help and they stay away when you need them the most. Sad but true --"  SP

"That poem is exactly what it feel like to someone suffering through severe depression. As one who suffers with illness into a decade; One minute your on the beach waving, and the next minute you are out to sea. When you're out to sea you have to pray their is someone on shore looking for you...in many cases it's easier to just let our depressed friends lapse from our memory..."  SS

"So sad he was out so far beyond help. Such a loss." MBD

Depression coupled with addiction, or addiction as a response to depression is toxic, sad, and can be fatal.  Reach out, get help, find help, be helpful, ask for help.  Make it CLEAR you are not waving.  If you are unsure about someone else ask, wait a moment and ask again.  

We all say we are FINE as a knee jerk reaction to the question "how are you?".  Maybe we need to ask twice.  As SP says, sometimes the more famous, or the more competent or the more collected one appears, the more difficult it is to ask for help. 

You can call and ask HOW YOU can be of help if you are unsureDefinitely call if you need help.  Another person's voice and listening ear may be all you need.  

Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200, RTY500 is the author of "Yoga and the Twelve Step Path", a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a teacher certification training now available in an ONLINE study course.  Scroll to the end of the page and sign up now http://www.yogarecovery.com/SOAR__tm__Cert_all.html

You may also take her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors - AlAnon and Yoga

I remember that quote; "good fences make good neighbors",  from Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall" since reading that poem in school.   As a regular part of the curriculum we were asked to read and analyze it and I did my best.

This poem is complex and deep (as are all his works) and yet I never really understood this one beyond its surface when first presented with it in school. Young and literal, without much self knowledge or life experience, I had no idea why the teacher was so excited about this poem.  Wall, no wall, whats the difference? It is a low stone wall, a mere sketch of separation.  It falls down easily in hard weather and is maintained in its precarious state in the spring.  My understanding had no depth; I had life experiences but no perspective or context.  I did my anemic best.

As I ponder the line several decades later I now wonder about it as Frost did; "what are we walling in or walling out".  There is nothing observable - like cows to restrain- and yet we repair the wall. The wall is real, the wall is symbolic, the wall is emotional, the wall is social.  Sometimes you, and sometime me - maintain it to keep a semblance of wall between us. 

The wall can define and it can also protect.  Understanding the difference is crucial to know what the wall IS.  When considering "to whom I was like to give offense" one must INCLUDE ONESELF in the equation.

Trimming shrubbery in the yard the other day, coming up close to the neighbor's yard the line popped into my head.  This fence used to be a low iron railing and the elderly neighbor and I would chat.  She passed away, the house was sold and a new fence was built.  It is now a tall 'privacy fence" and I no longer know my neighbor.  I muse on that.

I also muse on boundaries and how I need them in relationships, in defining what is my business and what is not.  Having a clear sense of self, honoring and maintaining the actions associated with being a separate human being is important. It also teeters in confusion when I think about being part of the universal whole.  Being part of the universal whole, however, does not mean that your business is mine, what is yours in mine, that my choices are yours. 

The wall does not have to be large or wide or in complete repair. There is a healthy sense of self that is important to acknowledge and a healthy sense of YOU that needs to be acknowledged;  the wall is reassuring, the wall is a reminder.  That, even though "something there is that doesn't like a wall"; we and our neighbors maintain it together "and on a day we meet to walk the line" setting it up mutually once again.

My mat, your mat, my practice, your practice, my side of the street, yours, the manifestation of my ethics and your practice of yours;  all are separate.  Impact is mutual; expression is unique.

If I know where you stand and you know where I stand is it not more comforting? When my edges are blurred and meld with yours, move with yours, become dependent upon yours, the fences down, confusion and unhealthy interrelations can occur.

The wall is necessary until its purpose is understood. Once understood it can be considered to be useful or not useful.  Its use must first be known.  Then a choice can be made - to keep it in repair or to let it crumble away.

Read the poem and see what you think about it: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/mending-wall

Kyczy Hawk E-RYT200, RTY500 is the author of "Yoga and the Twelve Step Path", a leader of Y12SR classes, and the creator of SOAR(tm) (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) a teacher certification training now available in an ONLINE study course.  Scroll to the end of the page and sign up now http://www.yogarecovery.com/SOAR__tm__Cert_all.html

You may also take her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes