Yoga and the 12 Steps
by: Kyczy Hawk
I started my journey to yoga first in my living room, shyly with taped videos I got from the library. I eventually purchased some and worked on the poses. Alone is not a good modality for me, but that is where I started. Years later I had moved to the East Coast and was working very hard for very long hours and I was becoming internally empty. I passed a yoga studio on my way home from work. It was a Saturday, and earlier in the evening than usual and I could see the storefronts on the side of the highway. I pulled into the strip mall parking lot and went into a small health / vitamin store that had a YOGA sign in the window. I asked about classes and one was starting right away. I was wearing loose baggy clothes and decided to stay. Having a teacher made all the difference. I started to sample classes in the area, found a teacher who really inspired me and stayed.
Where has your journey led you?
I stayed in the yoga classes, not just because of the physical practice, but due to the bits of philosophy that the teacher brought into the class. I became curious about the depth and breadth of a yogic life and did some reading. I need to say that I am a woman in recovery. Anything that enhances my recovery program is tremendously important and powerful for me. Yoga was that. It fit right in. In fact it includes physical wellness, something that we don’t have too many tools to address in a traditional 12 Step program. Practicing and studying yoga led me to become a yoga teacher. After a defined amount of time I left my job to teach yoga to people in recovery. It is what I do now. It also led me to write a book, “Yoga and the Twelve Step Path”. This book expands on the conjunctions I have found between yoga philosophy and the principles of recovery.
Defining moments as a teacher?
My defining moments are small. They are quiet. They are personal. “I haven’t felt good about my body since I relapsed in 2004. I feel so good today.” “I use my breath whenever I feel stressed. I don’t have to react when I breathe.” “I was going to punch [him], but I remembered what you said and I just stood on the ground and took a breath. And I didn’t have to hit him.” Many of the people I teach are divorced from their own bodies and the signals and sensations we use to give us clues as to how we are feeling. The physical practice helps them re-unite. In my Y12SR classes (Yoga of the 12 Step Path) we discuss the yamas and the niyamas as they relate to recovery, as well as many of the other 8 limbs. The recovery sharing is reframed and often deepened due to the depth at which these precepts go. The “aha” moments are affirmation that this is the right path for me; to lead these meeting / yoga classes and hold the space for people to grow and share. Small moments, but huge steps.
New comers, new teachers and seasoned teachers
I tell new students to listen; to their bodies to their feelings and to their breath. I say about thesame thing to new teachers. Be where you are; practice within the capacity of your breath and your body; teach the same way. Teach what you know; simply. I have so much in my mind I want to show, to teach to say that I have to remind myself that it does not all have to be done in one class. Keep it simple. This may be true for you , too. In one’s excitement one may want to pour the depth of the well into the pitcher. Not necessary. Hatha yoga is an invitation into the body and the shapes. So, too let the wisdom be an invitation, and not a deluge of information and facts. I listen to seasoned teachers. I learn from them. I move to discourse with them so I can deepen my understanding and expand my tool kit. Not all teachers are talented and not all teachers “speak’ to me. They are profound for someone else. I let them be on that path and I stay on mine.
I hope this is useful…. Thank you for the opportunity to write this!
Author: “Yoga and the Twelve Step Path”