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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, July 28, 2014

Non-harming, Awareness and Compassion

The first part of the Raja Yoga 8 limbs are the Yamas.  The Yamas are “restraints”  - five actions that, when avoided, will bring you closer to your true self. Compassionate change starts here.

The five Yamas are: non violence, non-lying, non- stealing,  non- excess and non-possessiveness.  Like the 12 Steps of recovery,  the restraints, along with other rungs on the yoga path, can become part of the principles you practice every day to improve your relations with yourself and with others.  The  Yamas are practiced in thought, word and deed – so there are subtle aspects that can be investigated  when incorporating them into your life.


The first Yama, “Non-Violence” sounds pretty straight forward. The beginning can be.

As an addict (alcohol, gambling, consuming, or other) stepping away from the "object of our [over-]affection" is non-violence to ourselves and others. In abstinence we are practicing non violence.  We "cease fighting everyone and everything". We cease harming ourselves, the ones we love, our pocket book, our sanity, our safety, nor our health through the use of or attachment to our form of addiction. However we may still have character defects that are still causing harm.


Next, using the steps, we can find more subtle characteristics in ourselves that had become harmful – anger, distrust, impatience, perfectionism, resentment or being judgmental.   These aspects of ourselves can influence unwise or harmful speech even if there is no actual harmful physical action.  It is part of our journey to uncover and identify these harmful character traits.  They influence our actions and our words. Mentors and our higher power / universal spirit and the strength of looking at ourselves honestly can unearth how we un-intentionally harm others with these traits. Mentors and our higher power / universal spirit can help us move through them to the other side.

Then comes thought – the privacy of our own minds that can  torture us and tear down semblances of self esteem that we might have developed in our past.  One of the addict’s most prevalent character traits, a lack of esteem, is a form of self punishment and harm that has no purpose in a recovering life. So even in our thoughts we must learn to be kind,  to think, as well as act, with forbearance and compassion. 

This non harming can have a foundation in language – the words we use when mentally referring to ourselves.  When making a mistake no longer can we refer to ourselves as “stupid” or a “total *–up”.  Phrases like “good  try” or “better luck next time” would be far more helpful.  We may still have little kid brains – treat yourself as you would a favorite niece or nephew, as beloved child  - with words of encouragement and kindness. 

Why not?  If nothing else it could amuse you.  And there would be no harm done.

So – for today – try non-harming. In thought, word and deed, work on your character in this loving way.  Just  for today.

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. 

Follow her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 
http://yogarecovery.studiolivetv.com/MemberRegistrationYR.aspx

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Staying On My Own Mat


Some of my difficulties over the past week or so have come from an internal shift and change in focus.  This movement caused me to feel out of balance. Lack of internal balance is a dangerous condition for many; change can be a topple-er!







How does being out of balance show up? Distrust, depression, dis-ease, disassociation, despair.  I am off my internal game and out of synch with life. I don't trust how I feel or what I sense around me.  My confusion turns to anger and the anger turns inward and I feel depressed.  I am not at ease anywhere or with anything.  There is no solution, no resolution, no peace.  I am separate from everyone- my heart and mind wrapped in cotton wool; nothing gets in.  I ultimately feel as if nothing will change- I will just have to learn to be like this always: this won't change.  I will have to learn to live with no connection to self, others or my spiritual links.




What is going on with an "internal shift"? Something has moved.  It can be a change in life direction, focus, passion, desire or a softening of any of these.   What seems to have happened is that my insides have changed. I cannot CHANGE them myself.  It happens when I look way, stop trying, cease effort.  Once I adapt to the new reality I don't stay down and disconnected.  I find I am on my way out. One day, again, I have become sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.  I let go and - there I am - moving again- toward ACCEPTANCE.



What does staying on my own mat have to do with anything?  Sadly, I have discovered that I look onto other's mats.  I have found that it is when I look at other people, on their mat or in their lives,  I begin to feel unmoored.  I look, I yearn, I compare and I envy.  I become out of balance with my own existence.  Whether it is a pose, strength or flexibility on the mat or off, whether it is life achievement or "success" - one the comparisons start the dissatisfactions grown.  And, for some reason, I am always on the short end in my mind; not graceful enough in my asana, not accomplished enough in my profession, not giving enough in my community and on and on and on.

Staying on my own mat, living MY LIFE personally completely and with love and compassion brings me to the present the right size of my own life and back in synch with my own true nature.  Back in BaLaNcE.



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. 
Follow her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 
http://yogarecovery.studiolivetv.com/MemberRegistrationYR.aspx

Monday, July 7, 2014

SOMETHING ELSE, Not This, Not Now



Today is supremely painful.  My soul hurts.  One of those days when nothing seems right; or if it does, not for very long. My regular pattern is off.Dreams lingered without message; the beginning of the day felt awkward.  My yoga practice was OK- but did not transport me as it so often can.  The discipline of meditation was just that - the discipline.  Routine that usually reassures was work, not framework.
I hurt.  


I reached out to find comfort; checking on line for what my peeps are doing in the field of yoga and recovery. This normally lifts me up.   My heart hurts so much today that all I see is an example of what I am NOT doing.  My ego fills my eyes.

I am watching myself be in pain, in discomfort, out of balance.  I say to myself - "this is me brushing my hair from my face." I am not in my body.  I am DIS-INTEGRATING.  This is not good for me.  I yearn to be whole again.

I send in the "second arrow".   I think to myself "I SHOULDN'T FEEL LIKE THIS."  Deny the feelings;  not recommended but the instinct for survival.  Hold me!  Hold me UP!  That is what I feel like shouting.



What I do, what I do with my time and energy, how I want to be in the world seems insufficient.  I want to be something else, do something else, FEEL SOMETHING ELSE. But not this, not that, not that now.

I turn on the radio, the station bothers me. I try another. That is wrong, too.  Turn it off.  Pick up a book, no good.  Reach for another. Same thing.  No food fills.  No song thrills.    If everything seems wrong I know it is me.  Even knowing that is no help.


I am usually so strong, the one who holds compassionate space: giving permission to the true feelings of the moment. But NOT NOW! Now I need the support, and I don't know how to ask so that people will hear me.
Depression could lead to emotional relapse. You often don't see depression coming. It woke up with me today.  No why. No where for. Nothing happened.  It comes out of the blue - making me blue.  My vision is skewed. Joy for others appears as sorrow for self. The poison of toxic thinking. I am not imune.  

One foot in front of the other. This too shall pass.  Reach out to others.  Write. Cry.  Then get to a meeting. Even if it is "lousy" one.  I whisper to myself "be where you are".



I might be listening.

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. 
Follow her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 
http://yogarecovery.studiolivetv.com/MemberRegistrationYR.aspx

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Recovery Is Like A Shark


I was talking to a woman the other day about being active in our recovery program, doing “the footwork”; reading, working the steps, going to meetings, meeting with others, finding ways to be of service in the program and so on.  We were sharing the things we do to keep our practice of the program alive. Unexpectedly the following phrase jumped out of my mouth: “my recovery is like a shark; it will die if I don’t keep moving.”

Wow – ain’t that the truth! No, it isn’t just motion for the sake of motion: anger is pretty lively but that won’t keep me emotionally “sober”.  Although I may feel impatience or frustration these are not attitudes that keep me in healthy waters. Being overly busy and missing the moment by rushing from one thing to another might be ACTIVE but it isn't recovery.



My recovery oriented actions include being with others who are healthy and swimming a wise “school”. I like to keep away from the shoals of discontent, self abasement, and frustration, preferring the open seas of unlimited possibilities, hope and my spiritual sky above me.


There are scary deep sea creatures in ocean; the gloomy monsters of depression and isolation, those sneaky eels of despair and doubt that you come upon when you least expect them. There are also those happily dressed up clown fish – those easy breezy feelings that lure you away from your pack: cockiness, dishonesty or complacency. Flighty fish with the temporary treats of activity without considering consequences. These can come in any form of distraction (screen time, for example), another compulsion (such as shopping or eating) or finding another "HP" (him or her); something or someone that takes me away from my recovery. Swim away, swim away recovery shark! Move toward the light – the spiritual , the good in yourself, swim to safe harbor of your recovery friends. 

Yes, my recovery is like a shark – I have to keep moving in a wise way. I practice my yoga and stay close to positive people, I read and reflect, meditate and pray. I continue to grow, to learn more, and to stay close to those women I sponsor. They bring out the best in me.

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. 

Follow her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 
http://yogarecovery.studiolivetv.com/MemberRegistrationYR.aspx

Friday, June 6, 2014

Start from Where You Are, Patiently

I remember when I got my GPS unit. It has taken some of the fear out of going to new places.  I enter my destination and in a firm voice it advises me. I like it.
However, my GPS takes time to load it's information! I plug it in and it takes time to crank and churn. At first I was frustrated by the amount of time it took to "wake up".  Even in my driveway it pauses and dots and displays messages such as "looking for a valid signal". "Looking for a valid signal"? Are lots of bogus signals bouncing around? Evidently. While waiting for the signal to be identified and approved I have learned to take time to think. Do I get bogus signals? Are my signals valid? Do I jump in my truck swooshing out of the driveway (looking both ways, of course, for people and traffic), but still, I jump into my vehicle and drive pell mell without consideration?  Have I taken stock of where I am - where I REALLY am (emotionally, intellectually, spiritually) before leaving to invade someone else's space?

Whether I am headed to the post office or a friends's house; do I acknowledge where I AM before I GO? Can I pause and wait for a valid signal to identify the present moment and "location"?
After finding a valid signal the unit waits and waits and waits until I let it know where I wish to go.
It doesn't assume I am going to my prior end point, or the first I ever programmed. It waits until I select my destination. I have to state, with intention, where I am planning to go. Even then, time is taken to choose the most direct route - not always the one I would have chosen - but, so far, a route that has gotten me to my destination. In determining my "path" have I considered traffic and intentions, route and motivation, speed and expectations? Have I found the clear path and taken my higher power with me? I may need to be re-routed if the unexpected pops up - some accident or road repair that was not foreseen or predicted. I may need to "recalculate my route". Mindfully selecting my destination is not a bad idea. 


So taking these few moments I let the gizmo figure out where we are, I figure out where I am. Waiting patiently while it plans the direction, I set my route with intention. I breath (it calculates) and I prepare myself for moving into the world with my total self in alignment. I reform these moments of possible frustration into moments of reflection. Where am I, where am I going, how will I get there, and HOW I will BE WHEN I get there. Not just the route but the integrated me. 

Such useful moments. Mindfulness taught by Tom Tom. I could learn from this card sized device.

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. 

Follow her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 
http://yogarecovery.studiolivetv.com/MemberRegistrationYR.aspx

Monday, June 2, 2014

Chicken Pox, Candy and Working Things Out

What do chicken pox, candy and compromise have to do with drinking?  EVERYTHING in Carolyn Hannan Bell, M.S. , L.P.C. 's new books: "Mommy's Disease" and "Daddy's Disease".


In the late 1970's I knew I had a "problem" with alcohol and drugs.  I was alternately trying to control my intake and just giving in and giving up, drinking and drugging all the more.  I tried Antabuse but my drug use skyrocketed.  Economics alone "drove me to drink" and I quit the Antabuse but not the abuse.  At that time the counseling center where I got my prescription didn't offer me other "ism" prevention programs such as AA, NA, the AlAnon family groups or any others.

I was still in the disease; my kids were suffering too. I knew this. I knew this because I had had an alcoholic parent.  I didn't understand the disease then and my two little tots didn't either.  In order to understand it better, I tried to write about it and eventually sent a book off to "New Seed Press" one of the pop up local small publishing companies of the time.    Thank goodness they rejected my choppy and unseasoned try at "My Mommy Drinks Too Much".  Cry for help?  You bet.

Now, many years later, Carolyn Hannan Bell, M.S., L.P.C. comes upon the scene with these two books, "Mommy's Disease" and "Daddy's Disease" that lead both the reader AND the listener on a journey through understanding the disease of alcoholism. Drawing parallels between the child's personal experiences and the symptoms of addiction, the parent is able to bring the discussion to the level of a child's understanding without talking down to the kid.  This makes the lesson "hearable".  Short enough to be read in a sitting but full and long enough to take time in moving from one aspect of the disease to another,  the author draws on age appropriate childhood experiences to help the kid gain an understanding on a personal level about what the disease is all about, in a way that the 7 year old can understand.

I look forward to further books that can explain how an ongoing relationship with an active drinker can be managed, and one that can both deepen the understanding of the disease - the brain disease of both the parent with the addiction and the damage that can occur in the parent / people DEALING with the addiction; the co-addict who suffers from second hand drinking.  And, hopefully, sometime a  book about "My Parent is in Recovery; What Do I Do Now?,  a whole other journey for the family.

Hannon Bell, please keep writing and keep the conversation going.

I recommend this book for ANY family member, not just the children of an active alcoholic.  I also recommend this for stages of recovery where these concepts could use reinforcement.  I don't know about you, but I have a "forgetter" and need occasional reminders that this IS a disease and that it is NOT personal.

Carolyn Hannan Bell's book is reviewed on WHYY in Philadelphia by Daniel Gottlieb.  She also appears on Monty Dale's Take12radio.com .   More about Hannan Bell and her work can be found on her website http://www.alcoholismhurtskids.com/.

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. 
Follow her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 
http://yogarecovery.studiolivetv.com/MemberRegistrationYR.aspx

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Relapse, Triggers and Yoga



No post this week- but a link to an article of mine that was just published by the OMExchange.
I am passionate about how yoga can be of great help in preventing relapse;  and that we need as many tools as possible to avoid this frequent visitor to our disease.  Catching the relapse [back]slide when it starts at the level of the feelings in the mind and body can prevent full blown re-engagement with our addictive process; relapse.

Breathe and listen to your body- it is trying to tell you something!





Read more here about triggers, the signs of relapse and what yoga can teach you.
http://omexchange.com/recovery-relapse-triggers-and-yoga/

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. 

Follow her ONLINE recovery infused yoga classes 
http://yogarecovery.studiolivetv.com/MemberRegistrationYR.aspx