About Me

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Author of "Yoga and the Twelve Step Path" and "Life in Bite Sized Morsels".  "Yogic Tools For Recovery, A Guide To working the Steps": the workbook for which will be coming out May 15, 2018.
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 the south SF Bay Area, 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 teach in person and ONLINE.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ask Kyczy about Yoga and Recovery; Samskara - negative habits of the mind

Moving out of negative ways of thinking is so important for an addict. It is a challenge for all humans, but we addicts have the additional concern of jumping into the rut of negative thinking and sliding right into addictive behavior. Thought patterns or habits of the mind – referred to as samskaras – become more entrenched the more we follow them. These patterns emanate from impressions of the subconscious mind reinforced by later decisions we had made as the result of upbringing, social adaptation, responses to negative experiences and plain wrong thinking. Later we increase the grooves of unskilled thinking as the result of actions and habits we ourselves had taken up to "take care" of ourselves or to get high. For example the self protective behavior we might have had in childhood of withdrawing from social interaction to avoid toxic actions in a household filled with verbal or physical violence, may lead to an attraction for an reclusive addiction like on line gaming, or alcoholism. That activity reinforces this samskara of isolation and withdrawal. Addiction can increase the samskara to constant feelings of being “apart from” or “alienated”. These patterns still exist in sobriety /abstinence and, without remedy, can further hamper wise and healthy personal relations. What can you do to overcome this habitual rut of negative samskara?
You can overcome this pattern by building new habits of the mind, healthy ways of looking at things, and healthy activities. In the example of isolation and alienation in the example above, the samskaras can be remedied by finding meetings of recovery that reinforce pursuing solutions, working with others and being “a part of”; the healthy satsang of WE (a group of like minded recovery oriented, spiritual people). They can help by example, demonstrating their abilities in overcoming isolation and alienation. Yoga classes that stress the positive, the being in the moment, the paying attention to the internal landscape and the breath, can also help develop positive habits of the mind. The philosophy of yoga, along with the practice of the recovery principles, can lead to uncovering the source of these samskaras and help to overcome and replace them with positive habits of the mind. A lifelong practice – but well worth it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aparigraha - Non-attachment

Aparigraha - Letting Go
You have heard it in the rooms of recovery; “Let Go and Let God”. Holding on to the result of actions, feelings, events; trying to control outcomes or to predict the unfolding of events all cause suffering. These attributes of clinging, gripping, even greed can remove one from the moment and catapult one into a dissatisfying future. Yoga advises adopting the restraint of Aparigraha – or non attachment.
Do what is mine to do and let go of the result,  relinquish the clinging to an expectation, a considered outcome; what is usually "my way".
Developing Trust, and Being Trustworthy

On the other side of the coin is the fear that by NOT holding on, that I am uncaring or acting in a non-caring way. Somehow attachment and gripping had come tomean “connection” or even “love”. I didn't know that I could love or could care without being possessive.  I was possessive and attached to the out come, to the manner or its performance, or the event. When I let compassion and care, gratitude and trust be in my heart, when I do find union with and reliance on my higher power there is no need to grasp or hold. Life events, like a breeze or a gentle wave, move in and out a proper rate and duration. I need do nothing but breathe.

Kyczy Hawk E-RTY 500 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. Join her on www.intherooms.com  Sunday mornings at 7am PST at the Yoga Recovery meeting. Find out more about her, her classes and the training at www.yogarecovery.com

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ask Kyczy about Yoga and Recovery; Brahmacharya - Non-excess

Yogic Yama - Restraint
Brahmacharya used to be translated as celibacy but now is more accurately defined as non-excess as it refers to all facets and characteristics of our being. It refers to all our passions and our desires. It can refer to time spent, money spent, and energy spent: to excess.  It can refer also to the velcro attitude in relationships and all the ways we can over do things.

The disease of MORE
Doing; doing doing doing – we are always doing something. The more we have to do the “better” we are. The more impossible our schedules the more valuable we are in this over indulging society. Free time is not only a fantasy for most – we don’t know what NOT to do with it when we have it.

Wall off the spirit; find the door
Another danger of excess it that overindulgence can be a mask, a thick goo of someTHING that covers a true need and blocks the spirit.  Food, things, sex, time; we find a way to over use and justify our excesses. Then to top it all off – I am an ADDICT! As an addict (and in my less than healthy state) there is NEVER such as thing as too much – so non-excess doesn’t make sense to me. Then there is my recovering self; that self that does not want ever to return to the madness of “too much of a good thing is a good thing” where good is relative.

With that desire for recovery Brahmacharya become one of my restraints.  So I keep Brahmacharya in mind when I work with my recovery and work with my yoga practice and when I work with my life.
With the help of others and with a sponsor / mentor the core of the issue can be revealed and resolved. This is the core of step work and the core of yoga practice.
Finding the point of enough, the grace of sufficiency, the divine in needing what I have and having what I need – that is my practice. That is my struggle and it is my reward.

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 that she holds with her good friend Kent Bond E-RYT500. Find out more about her, her classes and the training at www.yogarecovery.comhttp://www.yogarecovery.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ask Kyczy about Yoga and Recovery; Asteya - Non-stealing

Non-stealing is so much more complex than the idea of avoiding being a bonefide thief. It is the idea of “not taking that which is not freely given”. Again – using the subtleties of thought word and deed – what could one steal? I stole my own adolescence and young adulthood from myself by my addictive behavior. I stole the experience of being a mother from both myself and from my children. I stole people’s love and concern for me in my resolute tenacity to putting my addiction first. Well, to tell the truth, I did the thief thing, too, stealing from others to feed my own habits.
Then I got sober and started the path of recovery. But, as they say, when you have a lying, cheating, drunken horse thief and sober him (or her) up – you get a lying, cheating horse thief. More had to change than abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
Asteya asks us to refrain from all forms of stealing, it ask us to consider all manners of stealing and WHY we might be compelled to steal. Manners of stealing include things, of course, but also time, concern, attention, another’s opportunity, and the future of our planet among any other nuance that you can bring to mind. If I finish your sentence, solve your problem, ask your advise with no consideration to taking it, if I over buy and over trash, I am taking what is not freely given. Sometimes theft can be of things we covet –someone’s things or life style. We might want someone else’s capability on the mat and we over do – hurting ourselves. We might feel entitled to more than the money we make at work and steal time or accolades or office supplies. We might steal from the moment by living in the past or the future.
In recovery we are encouraged to dig into ourselves – finding the “exact nature of our wrongs” and to make a start on remedying them, making amends, and leaving our shortcomings behind us. We engage the help of our higher power, making use of our growing spirituality, to help us in dealing with what we know about ourselves. Asteya is another tool we can use to look at the finer aspect of stealing, at thievery, and circle back – using our HP, the help of our sponsor, and the steps to figure out WHY. Do I feel less than – so I have to ask for “advise” when I really want attention? Do I steal the limelight to take focus from someone else? Do I desire your pose or practice because I feel bad about my own? The growth away from stealing, the growth towards asteya comes from finding gratitude in one’s own thoughts, feelings, actions, and ideals. If I want for something more – I should work for it! Whether it is a deeper practice, more grounding in the steps and literature of my 12 Step area, or if it is STUFF. I will feel better about myself if I “work for it”. Just like the promises suggest (see www.AA.org for a copy).
Regarding the stealing of solving another’s promises, stealing their right and obligation to find their own path, is so tricky. It is a balancing act – between offering advise and providing asked for advise. A balance between speaking your truth and taking action which rightly is the other’s. I myself struggle with this with my family. When is helping my children “over-helping”? My gut knows. I have to slow down and listen, but my gut knows when I am overstepping. Solutions don’t go together easily – and in fact I am more invested in a positive outcome that the other person! But this is always an area ripe for investigation. I must not steal ownership of my children’s future from them.
Finally – consider asteya in regards to the future of our planet. Be wise in what you do and use, be wise in what you buy, be wise in what your waste is and how you dispose of it. Practicing asteya can wake you up to your own true values and the opportunities you have to grow.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ask Kyczy about Yoga and Recovery; Satya; Truthfulness

Ask Kyczy about Yoga and Recovery – The Yamas – weaving yoga philosophy and the 12 Step programs – Satya; Truthfulness
According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous we can recover from our addiction by “being rigorously honest”, bearing in mind the caution “except when to do so would injure them or others”. So, too, in yoga philosophy the restraint of “Non-Lying” comes right after “Non-harming” so that we should be mindful of hurting others or ourselves when being honest. Is this carte blanche to “white lie” heaven or is this really a caution for wise speech?
So we look at ourselves and at our actions and try to be truthful in what we do. On the mat we are to be truthful about our intention, our attention and our abilities in our practice. In the world it is to be truthful about our intention, our attention and our abilities in our actions and speech. Oooh, that sounds really familiar! Reading in one of my favorite books, The Yamas and the Niyamas, by Deborah Adele, I find that not only must I not be harmful – but I must look at being honest with myself, avoiding being nicey nice, or too nice with others, and look to taking the time to find my own boundaries and my own truth. What does this mean in sobriety? This means working the steps to find out who you are, making direct, personal amends when appropriate (engage the feedback and advise of a sponsor to determine appropriate action), and become real – your real, authentic self.
All of the Yamas and Niyamas are practiced in thought, word and deed so again the nuance it to first be honest with yourself in your thoughts. Once we can figure out what our limits, ethics and intentions are we can then speak of them, and ultimately act on them.
As an example; I have the habit of over committing. In order to avoid this I need to look in myself and ask myself if I can really do this thing. Is my agreement because I don’t’ want to hurt someone’s feelings by saying no? (Too Nicey nice). I want to be seen as being capable of anything and everything (my ego talking, feeling like I am not ENOUGH unless I am DOING)? Or are one of my other character defects coming up; laziness, fear, the desire to isolate, or any of the others I still cherish? If it is the last – I know I have to do it – to overcome the inertia of my shortcomings. If it is one of the former two I need to examine myself further before I make a commitment. If I don’t do this examination I could either come up with a lie at the last minute to excuse myself, or behave less than well when I participate due to resentment or another defect. I now wait before I commit. I look at my reasons and my motives, for doing and for not doing, so that I can find a balance and be honest with all involved. This helps my recovery and it helps my yoga.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Yamas – weaving yoga and the 12 Steps

The first 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. 

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.  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 thoughtthe 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", and "Life in Bite Sized Morsels".  She is 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 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ask Kyczy about Yoga and Recovery; People in Recovery Benefit from Yoga

Ok – you have stopped indulging in your addiction. Now what?  You go to meetings, are meeting with a sponsor and working the steps. How do you find out who this NEW YOU is?  How do you get to know yourself?  How do you get physically well and stay well?  One of the paths to knowing your self and to getting and maintaining health is through yoga.  Yoga and her sister science Ayruveda (a complimentary and alternative medical system for keeping the body in balance)  . Today I will begin to address the benefits of yoga.  Later I will draw attention to the similarities between Yoga and the 12 Step programs.  I will also being to introduce some of the Ayurvedic concepts that can be incorporated with yoga and your recovery program to bring about total constitutional health.

The word yoga means “yoke”. It signifies the pulling together of the body, mind and spirit.  Just what we need to find our selves – to gather ourselves together in one moment – for the moment.  Yoga starts and ends with the breath – the breath is an amazing link between the body and the mind, and breath control can ease physical stress and relax the mind.  Control of the breath leads to control of the mind – and through that control we can better master our actions and responses.  A useful yoga class will teach a variety of breath practices over time.  You will be able to practice and become skilled at them – and they will lead to a rich 11th step meditation practice.  Finally yoga classes teach you how to relax.  The majority of classes will end with final relaxation in the conventional savansana (corpse) pose.  In this pose all the physical activity will be integrated into your body and your mind will savor the relaxation that results from being in your body and in the moment.

There are many paths of yoga and many traditions of yoga practice.  The yoga that is most commonly known is hatha yoga – the physical asana, or practice of postures.  Practicing yoga is a wonderful way to step into the body.  A good yoga studio will have lots of offerings so that you will be able to find a yoga style that works for you.  Some yoga styles are therapeutic yoga, integral yoga, ashtanga yoga, Iyengar yoga, Bikhram hot room yoga, Shadow yoga, restorative yoga, Yin and Vini yogas and on and on.  What kind of yoga you choose is sort of reflective of where you are spiritually and athletically.  Some yoga classes emphasize the spiritual; others the physical.  

Just like meetings – you may need to “shop around” and find the class and style, and even teacher, who suits you and your needs.  Just like meetings, sometimes you have to return a few times in order to really find out what the meeting / class is like.  Just like meetings you have to participate in the class to make it worthwhile – the more you put in to it the more you get out of it.

So – give yourself a treat and try a class.  Move into your body and find ways to move into your self.

To find out more visit http://www.yogarecovery.com