Please meet Kyczy Hawk who is a 12-Step Recovery (Y12SR) yoga teacher extraordinaire. In this interview, Kyczy shares the value of yoga in recovery and the benefits on how to help yourself as a parent.
How did you first because involved in yoga and what have been the benefits for your overall life?
Aside from the videos and TV yoga class experiences my first actual yoga class was in Maryland. This is the first class I “count” because I was really practicing yoga. I had put myself in the hands of a skilled yoga teacher who saw ME and guided me through the poses. It was not an exercise class, it was not a class of physical daring and pretzel-ation, it was a class designed to move me into my body and my own feelings.
I needed that. I was isolated and work oriented; going through the motions of being engaged in life, but divorced from my insides. Even though I had a good relationship with my husband, I had recovery friends, and went to meetings, my inner landscape had become a desert. This disconnect was the basis for my experience of being deep into an emotional relapse.
As a woman in recovery I cannot afford to become emotionally / psychologically bereft. I know how to BEHAVE like a woman in recovery. At that point I did not know how to FEEL like one. Yoga helped moved me into my feelings and to loosen some of the past traumas that had become lodged in my body. The unaddressed traumas needed to come out.
A continued practice of yoga has kept me vital, has kept me in touch with my feelings (physical and emotional) and given me tools to work through my feelings rather than thinking them away, pushing them down, denying them. Being in myself, believing in my feelings, allowing them space and the chance to leave, has made me a very grounded person. I am solid, and I am in touch. I can feel and express compassion without being enmeshed; I can accept myself just as I am.
You’ve become certified in Yoga of 12-Step Recovery (Y12SR). What are the benefits of yoga being integrated into the recovery process. Please share one of the challenges and one of the most rewarding experiences with Y12SR.
Y12SR is a most amazing recovery meeting and yoga experience. I have been holding space for over five years. In that time several hundred people have come and gone and many have stayed in the group. We have the deepest sharing and have become quite close.
In fact, a chronically ill woman has joined the meeting portion by phone in order to have a meeting and stay in touch with people who love and support her. We use the philosophy of yoga as it pertains to recovery as the jumping off point for discussion. Using one of many books (mine included- “Yoga and The Twelve Step Path”) we talk about how the concept related to our recovery and how we handle our daily lives. It is very solution oriented.
The yoga classes are designed around the topic for the day and is for all people, with our varied body types and abilities. Unlike conventional yoga classes – there is talking and laughing along with the practice. People who never thought they would do yoga come back time and again. They, too, notice that bringing attention to one’s body can and will help us to integrate. Breath work and meditation round out the classes.
In all the years and all the classes I have only had to ask one person to leave. I did this to keep the space safe for the others: I cannot have inebriated people in the room. Unlike conventional recovery meetings where everyone is welcome, people who are still using can be a danger to themselves or others in the yoga practice. 24 hours clean is the rule.
The other issue that I keep in mind is that, as an all recovery path meeting (with people from all anonymous fellowships welcome) having an active drinker or user in the group could trigger someone and that would be counter to the ideal of maintaining a safe container; a sacred circle.
What is SOAR (Success Over Addiction and Relapse) and what motivated you to become involved as a teacher?
S.O.A.R.(tm) is a training program designed to teach yoga teachers about the blend of yoga and recovery, how to incorporate yoga language with recovery language when teaching. It is also to guide teachers on how to hold safe classes in a trauma sensitive way: what this means in terms of words and instructions, body placement in the room, dress (yes, how we present our selves as a teacher is important – it sets the tone) and whether or why we would walk around the class and give hands on adjustments. Additionally somatics is a huge part of re-inhabiting the body and teaching classes in a somatically significant way is an important skill the teacher can use.
I designed the training to help guide teachers to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes I had made in my early experiences teaching. The training I had taken did not give me a strong foundation in HOW to teach people in recovery. I got the why, I got the neurology and the scientific background of the disease, I got the nutritional needs and many other important aspects offering holistic recovery to people, but I was teaching yoga.
I had read about trauma; I had been traumatized. I know what some of the needs could be. With the trainings I had taken, additional research and my own experiences on both sides of the studio (as a teacher and as a student) I put together a training program this is quite robust. It is now available online with recorded presentations and personal phone calls, as well as in person workshops. I balance the two modalities in honor of our environment.
What is the message that you hope your readers will take away from your book, “Yoga and the Twelve Step Path”?
I would love for the reader to be able to find more depth in their recovery and more depth in yoga. We sit in meetings and we process our feelings through the steps with our sharing, our listening and with our friends. A physical yoga practice, with breath work can enhance meditation and bring health to the body. I want people who practice yoga to know there is so much more than the asana, the poses, the physical practice.
Yoga is deep and addresses so many types of challenges humans face. Yoga enhances our relationship with ourselves, and I believe, at core, all forms of addiction flow from a disturbed relationship with oneself. Addiction and co-addiction isolate us from each other and fundamentally from ourselves. Yoga will bring us back together. I hope the book can be part of that journey.
It looks like you have some exciting workshops coming up. What is “SELF CARE AND SANTOSHA” and who is the workshop for?
This is my favorite workshop to present and I am expanding it to a retreat this Spring 2015. Santosha means contentment. My new saying is “Acceptance and Gratitude are the bookends for contentment.” With that in mind we are going to do some gratitude practices, find compassionate ways to self acceptance, practice some specialized yoga designed to calm, nourish and to create community. All this is 48 hours!
This workshop is for anyone at all. This is not exclusively recovery based, but because that is my background, I certainly bring wisdom I have learned in the rooms into my teaching.
If you had a suggestion for a parent who is struggling as they try to cope with their child’s abuse or addiction, what would it be? How can parents best help themselves?
This is such a complex and painful issue. I had to ask my 17-year-old son to leave the house due to his drug use many years ago. That was incredibly hard to do. My rules and regulations, my admonitions, my stories and my recovery were not enough to guide or dissuade him. He had to go. I couldn’t help him. (He is doing well now, and says that is the best thing I could ever have done for him.)
My other son is now more than two years clean from meth. His partner has over a year now. This was a horrible and painful journey. He needed to be clean to be in our home, he went to meetings for a year and doesn’t go anymore. I have to let go of that. Even taking “that look” off my face that indicates that I have advice, that I have a preference. I need to let him, and his partner, find their bottom in sobriety before they can address the hole that got them into addiction to begin with.
You can’t do anything – as a parent this is a horrible point to come to but it is the truth. At a certain point in life, if you have the financial ability, you can push a younger child into treatment. Without finding treatment for yourself, though, this is only half a solution. Even if the treatment sticks – this is a family disease and getting clean and sober doesn’t fix it.
RECOVERY does. What would I say to a parent? Get help and support for yourself first; you will be healthier, stronger and more able to offer appropriate help to your child. You will be able to do so without forsaking your other children or your spouse or your SELF. Get a counselor skilled in working with families struggling with this disease and you will see your life change for the better. No matter what.
Kyczy Hawk, author of “Yoga and The Twelve Step Path” and founder of S.O.A.R.(™) Yoga, (Success Over Addiction and Relapse yoga teacher training) had been in recovery for nearly thirty years (4/29/1985.) As the child of an alcoholic and the mother of a recovering meth addict she knows this family disease from all sides.
She has been teaching yoga to people in recovery for over six years, and maintains several Y12SR groups: Yoga and 12 Step Recovery. Know to many through her workshops and her blogs, she continues to write about yoga, recovery, and the subtlety of potential relapse.
She holds both an E-RYT200 and an RYT500 certifications from Yoga Alliance. She has certifications also from Y12SR as a group lead and from Yoga of Recovery as a YofR(m) counselor. Over 100 yoga teachers have completed her S.O.A.R.(™) training, holding yoga /recovery classes and workshops in studios and treatment centers across the United States and Internationally.
Interviewed by Rob Schware, William Hunnell, Darren Main, and Tommy Rosen (to name a few) she has also had articles published by Indigo International, Om Magazine, Yoga Times, The Examiner.com, OmExchange and Yoga.NZ.Org and others.
Kyczy has online Recovery infused yoga classes broadcast on StudioLiveTV.com, and has recorded presentation of her S.O.A.R.(™) work available as well. Enjoying her family, her yoga practice and her writing she continues to face “life on life’s terms” one day at a time.