March 25, 2015 on 12:00 pm
Dear Spiritual Explorer: I am both an addict and a spiritual seeker. I have tried mightily to accept that aspect of my personality as a part of my spiritual journey, but can always use some assistance in understanding how to integrate the two. Jane P., Liverpool, ENGLAND
Yoga and the Twelve-Step Path
Dear Jane: Sometimes I think we are all in recovery and hence suffering from some addiction of some sort. Whether it’s heroin, marijuana, solitude and even obsessing on meditative practices for some, it’s all the same escape from what is occurring in the moment. Whatever it is, our addictions and turning away ultimately brings us to a place of discomfort and unacceptance within ourselves. It is then that we must ask for compassion for ourselves. Yoga and the Twelve-Step Path by Kyczy Hawk addresses this conflict within ourselves and successfully brings about a détente between the 12 steps and spiritual life. In fact, the addition of yoga to a 12-step program has been known to deepen people’s recovery and give them that sense of longed for serenity and acceptance.
Being in spiritual life for many years, I can truly see the coherence and similarity between the 12-step path and general spirituality. It basically includes admitting to your powerlessness and surrendering to a higher authority, although with a different vocabulary. And both practices, that of yoga and 12 steps, agree on the ultimate step where one finally is able to let go of one’s ego in the service of others, thus extending that learned compassion for ourselves.
Combining yoga and the twelve steps of recovery into an integrated whole has been successfully achieved by Kyczy Hawk. Several types of yoga’s espoused beliefs extended her skills in this regard. Similar to recovery rooms in traditional AA meetings, Ms.Hawk came to see that yoga groups offered safe havens from the madness of everyday life. Yoga in its centuries old wisdom offers an end to suffering—being separate from your authentic self.
While yoga and the 12 step program are intertwined in their goals of recovery, Kyczy Hawk makes sure to tell us that meetings, working with others and attendance at 12 step meetings and sponsorship are not to be overlooked as necessary ingredients to maintain recovery.
Chapter 7 of this book is devoted to hatha yoga where Ms. Hawk talks about the importance of the body and restoring health and suppleness to the organism. Many times recovery groups are known to consider health and wellness practices not as important as the act of giving up the deleterious substance. Many of the AA meetings are enclaves of donuts and bad coffee. The paradox is that addiction is a disease of the mind and the body, and both must be addressed for a full recovery.
This great book includes postures, breath awareness, and styles of yoga and Ayurvedic practices. It is very comprehensive and written in an easy to grasp manner no matter the previous experience with yoga or the 12-step program.