Incorporating the principles of the program of recovery and those of the 8 limbs of Yoga seems straightforward enough.  “Don’t drink, go to meetings, work the steps and help others”.   Check.   Keep ethical practices and stay close to your higher power and the infinite wonder of the true self.  Check.  IN MY MIND!  How these play out in my daily life can vary.  When I am kind to myself, and realistic, I realize why it is called a PRACTICE (and not perfection).
While my practice of not using and drinking may be perfect; the emotional engagement with sobriety is not always well grounded.  I occasionally revert to my old behavior of impatience, control seeking, or even depression /avoidance.  (Mental note: get to a meeting, call a friend, see my sponsor.)
There are days my personal yoga practice is so perfunctory as to be merely extended stretching while putting on my socks and pulling on my shirt.  I may stop at a sink or wall to extend my back and experience the tightness in my hamstrings or calves, push my palm against the hallway wall and linger for thirty seconds to open my tight shoulders but that is it. It is the practice of yoga while I am on my way to doing something else.  Certainly not a mindful mat practice.
My engagement with my ethics is another part of the journey.  First, what are they?  I embrace the Yamas and the Niyamas (and the corollary of some of them is avoiding the 7 Deadly Sins) and they do form the basis of my ethical behavior.  That includes the practices of forgiveness and compassion – so critical for me to be able to express and act in these ethical manners.  When do I fall short?  I fall short when I am feeling less about myself.  I fall short when I feel I need something that with my own current skill or resource level, I am unable to earn on my own.  This can apply to the material; but more often now it occurs when I feel I need or want something non-material.  This can be ability on the mat, this can be artistic and technical skills in the pottery studio, this can be wisdom to navigate difficult situations in life.  When I am feeling badly about myself I have more opportunity to “regret the past”,  I have more need to control the outcomes of situations, I am unwise in my speech and attitude and am more likely to cause harm.  When I am angry at myself I am much more likely to find occasion to be angry at others.  This may sound simplistic – but is IS all about me!  It is my “stinkin thinkin” that gets me into difficulties.  Compassion with myself begets compassion with others, acceptance of myself as I am “leaks out” to manifest in acceptance of people, places and things as they are.  And this causes a wave of kindness; a smile given is a smile returned.  Today I am going to reinvigorate my attention to this question “how am I living my princples NOW?”; I will remind myself again and again (I have an over active “forget-er”)  to come back to the question and then, to come back to compassion.

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This blog post was written by Kcyzy Hawk, author of Yoga and the Twelve Steps

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