Process and Compost

Lately, I have been thinking about accepting suffering. No doubt, suffering exists. My heart needs to ache when I read world events, national weather catastrophes and attend a funeral for a loving father my age.

I plan to process and then compost my suffering.

Composting our pain creates purpose from our suffering. The charnel grounds of this human experience are fertile with illness, loss, and disappointment. The rotten fruits and vegetables our experiences churn into ripe soil. In time, the soil will grow beautiful and purposeful crops. The suffering is still with us but composted into a more meaningful life.

Namaste,

Kem

30 Minute Pranayama

This thirty-minute Pranayama breathing sequence has changed my life. My digestion and circulation are stronger and I experience peaceful vibrancy after each session. The ancient breathing techniques are balanced with calm and vigor.

I practice Pranayama around 5 am. I begin by lighting incense and saying a prayer for those who have gone before me. I wear mala beads and comfortable clothing.

Begin by sitting comfortably on the floor or sofa with back support. I place two pillows behind my back and a yoga block under my feet to enhance my posture.

Calming Breath:

Take your left hand in Gyana mudra, thumb touches index finger and the hand rests on knee or thigh. Take the right hand into Vishnu mudra, index and middle finger curled inward, thumb, ring and pinky finger pointed outwards. Block your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale and exhale slowly for three minutes. I use my watch as a timer. Release and take a few breaths. Repeat, using right ring finger blocking the left nostril for three minutes.

Box breathing:

Place both hands in Gyana mudra on your knees or thighs. Inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, hold for four counts. Repeat for three minutes.

Bhastrika Breath:

Keep your hands on your lap in Gyana mudra and breathe willfully through your nostrils for one minute. Notice your nostrils flaring. After one minute, inhale then lift your bandhas (located in the sex organs, rectum and throat) in a lock, squeezing your pelvic floor up and dropping your chin to your chest. For extra benefit, Take your right hand and squeeze your nostrils shut with your ring finger and thumb. Release when you need air. Take a few breaths and repeat three times.

Kapalabhati Breath:

Keep your hands on your lap in Gyana mudra and breathe for one minute forcibly through your navel, feeling a snapping back of your stomach muscles. The goal is to exhale and inhale fully, allowing your breath to happen naturally as you pull your stomach inward. After one minute, inhale and hold, use your right hand to block both nostrils with your thumb and ring finger. Drop your chin to your chest and hold your inhale, locking the pelvic floor. Remain in hold as long as possible. Exhale, release right hand and appreciate Prana flowing in your torso and up towards your third eye (between the brows) and crown of your head. Repeat three times.

Nadi Shodhana Breath:

Find your dominant nostril by alternately blocking off your left and right nostrils (use your right hand, thumb and ring finger) to determine which nostril is most receptive upon inhale. Place your left hand in Gyana mudra and use your right hand in Vishnu mudra. Begin on non-dominant side, inhale for a count of three, blocking non-dominant nostril, hold both nostrils for 12, exhale other side for six, inhale for three, block both nostrils for 12, exhale other side for six, inhale for 3, repeat for five minutes.

Meditation:

Release both hands to knees or thighs in Gyana mudra. Naturally, inhale and exhale, exploring the peaceful vibrancy in your torso, neck and thighs. Feel your chest expanding as Prana weaves around your spine and up to your third eye.

Kem’s Personal Hints:

Always appreciate the transitional breaths between the Prana exercises.
Use a kleenex before beginning if your nose is congested.
Awaken before sunrise to practice Pranayama. Ideally practice in the evening as well.
Expect to generate body heat with Bhastrika and Kapalabhati breathing, wear layers.

Namaste Ya’ll.

Kem

We Need Phenomenon

I needed the eclipse on August 21st to remind me that phenomenon exists. My husband, son and I drove to Murphy, North Carolina to observe the eclipse in totality. Fortunately the sky was clear and the eclipse was sensational.

I was reminded, in two minutes, that I am a part of a grand universe. My life in my zip code is small and humble.

My life as a US citizen, disappointed in our politics , is equally small and humble. My life as a diabetic is trivial compared to life unfolding in divine order for thousands of years.

The eclipse reminded me that natural phenomenon exists and has for thousands of year. My “me dramas” are minutia in the grand scale of our universe.

Kem

Mid-Life Expansion

I am having a midlife EXPANSION, not crisis. Who came up with the term of crisis anyway?

The first three decades of my life were often self-centered and filled with insensitive, ungrateful thoughts. As I approach fifty, I recognize the blessings I have been given with a healthy body, healthy family and an abundance of food on my table.

As I approach fifty, I recognize that now is the time to evaluate how I have been choosing to live and how I plan to evolve in the second half of my life. I have been managing my children’s evolution for two decades. My last child is leaving the nest and it is my turn to evolve.

I want a life filled with purpose. I want to feel needed in communities both large and small.

Perhaps a quiet internal crisis is helpful to own this stage of life. I have noticed that I have been buying more graphic yoga tees with pithy messages. I am planning my midlife EXPANSION.

FAVORITE TEES: Heavily Medicated, Not Adulting Today, Namaste Ya’ll

Kem

The Yoga Vitamin

I feel confident that practicing gratitude in yoga is like popping a yoga vitamin. It may be a placebo however it still feels good.

Three mindful gratitudes per day are the multi vitamin ingredients for me. I ask my students to name, in their hearts, three things they are grateful for.

It can be as simple and superficial as “Amazon Prime, coffee and chocolate.” Usually, with practice, gratitude becomes deep. As a diabetic, I thank my pancreas for working as best as it can, I thank my medications and the scientists behind them.

I thank my family, my husband’s love and my neighborhood which has helped raise my children.

Pop your yoga vitamin.

Namaste,
Kem

Gratitude Harvests

A friend of mine has cancer and she is frightened. She lives with uncertainty each day.

The one thing I know for certain is that gratitude harvests. Being grateful for what is going right, right now, sends a message to our hearts and cells to soften and relax into this moment.

My friend does not know if her cancer will go into remission, but she does know that she is grateful for her intelligent and caring doctors. She does know that she is grateful for modern medicine and a supportive family.

As I sit with my friend, I practice gratitude, knowing that gratitude harvests.

Namaste,
Kem

Parent Yourself First

If you want resilient kids, parent yourself first.

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and recent author of Option B, has beautifully spoken about resiliency within her family after the sudden loss of her husband.

Resilient kids need to know they matter. Kids know they matter when we notice them, care for them and rely on them. Thus, resilient kids have a purpose and rise up when life is tough.

Research had shown that resilient kids are happier teenagers with less rebellion and depression. Resilient kids feel connection and purpose and are able to manage life with grit and trust.

Sandberg’s book and related podcasts have brought depth into my parenting world. I thank you, Sheryl, for opening up your pain and vulnerability to strangers like me. I was inspired this morning to share your words with my morning yoga class for Crossfit men.

The men in this group are all fathers committed to parenting resilient kids. I shared Sandberg’s thoughts on resiliency and then added a thread from my yoga and meditation readings.

If you want resilient kids, parent yourself first. Choose thoughts, words and deeds that remind YOU that YOU matter. Notice what your body needs in activity and nutrition. Care for your heart. Rely on your grown up self. You matter.

May we all be resilient.
Kem

Mindfulness and Jewelry

I wear my east*west jewelry with mindfulness. I created this line of jewelry because I wanted authentic spiritual jewelry that related to my yoga and meditation training. I no longer wanted to wear the trendy (and cute) beads and symbols that I also gave to my teenage babysitters for holiday gifts. I am almost fifty years old! Time for big girl spiritual jewelry.

The Infinity pendant is one of my favorite pieces to wear lately. I am in constant need of balance. I am a “more is more” person and the vast messages of the Infinity symbol remind me to stay in balance, day by day.

I recognize that I often power my life with what I call the “Yang Bang,” neglecting to nurture my softer, yin side. Many of my jewelry clients have told me that my pieces remind them to slow down, practice yoga, meditation and gratitude.

Namaste Y’all
Kem

Eclipse Your Egoic Self

The astronomy community is ecstatic measuring, predicting and assessing the solar eclipse occurring on August 21st.

The astrology community is buzzing with personal suggestions for the historical eclipse.

Even the hotel industry is celebrating a surplus of tourist bookings from Oregon to South Carolina.

This solar eclipse is a dramatic event that encourages us to pay attention to our lives and make changes. Ancient people, without the tools of our modern day astronomers, knew that a powerful change was happening in our great Universe when the moon passes between the earth and the sun and blocks the light of the sun. The temperature will even drop in locations where the shadow of the moon stretches.

I have told Young Hearts Yoga students that the moon and the sun are almost high-fiving. It is our unique and historic opportunity to high five with our polarities as well, our fire and our nurturing sides.

It is time to eclipse our egoic selves and find balance with mindful change.

Choose a small habit such as eating vegetarian more frequently or a large habit such as pulling back from a friendship that feels unhealthy.

On August 21st, enjoy the splendor of our universe. Appreciate our humble human existence amidst the AWE of the sun and moon.

Base Camp

By Kem Lee

Your great life’s ascent begins at base camp. Base camp is located in the five senses of your body. It is here that we ground in sight, smell, taste, sound and touch. We naturally evolved from within our five senses as infants. As adults, we revisit base camp to reground. We all face challenging life ascents.

Our breath is a compass for upcoming climbs. Our climbing equipment functions like our sense of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Each sense provides a safe and helpful tool for our climb.

We must first ground (and reground) at base camp before ascending to higher altitudes. When we trust our bodies and its sensations (our equipment), we trust our soul’s work in this lifetime. Rocky climbs and crevasses become manageable.

Yoga emphasizes grounding into our bodies and using our breath as our most important tool.
Students of all levels feel the peaceful vibrancy of yoga. I am always ready to begin my next ascent when I leave a yoga class.

Namaste Climbers.