Emotional Humidity

By Kem Lee

It is often humid here in Atlanta. I recognize that at times, especially with family, emotional humidity exists. Dense emotional humidity enters as a low-pressure system, often following uncomfortable words or actions. The words and actions become past tense yet the humidity remains.

Emotional humidity makes me anxious. I have to wait out the humidity with family and neighbors with patience. All weather passes, but in the interim, I am fanning myself with positive affirmations and avoiding the heat certain times of the day.

Below is my favorite Young Hearts Yoga affirmation to help me relax into the emotional humidity:

I am mountain, thoughts are clouds, life is weather.

“This too shall pass” is a simple reminder that our humid and rainy Atlanta summer of 2017 will pass, along with my emotional humidity.

Namaste sweaty friends!

Fragmentation and Integration

By Kem Lee

Pause and recognize when you are fragmented. You can choose to integrate.

I know when I am fragmented because I feel anxious. My physical body has a cortisol twinge. I am tempted to buy numbing tools with food, shopping or celebrity scoop surfing.

The list of these numbing tools available in our world (drinking, gambling and pills) promising to integrate ourselves is extensive. Unfortunately, these tools only temporarily help integrate our fragmented sense of self. They are fun distractions that usually leave us feeling hollow.

When we pause and breathe into the present moment we begin to integrate naturally. We feel the feel without judgment. This is a skill to practice, especially when our feelings are uncomfortable and we judge them for existing. The goal is to return to our original infantile five senses and notice sensation.

In time, our fragmented self becomes whole as we allow feelings such as anxiety to exist. We slowly integrate our mind, body and spirit with our inhales and exhales. Life will fragment us again, yet we have the authentic tool of sensation to make ourselves whole, to integrate.

Inhale pause, exhale pause, repeat.

Diabetes: My Passport Linking Me to the Human Condition

By Kem Lee

Diabetes has been a passport for me to connect with others. I honestly know how it feels to be disappointed in your body. I know how it feels to receive a diagnosis atypical of your health profile. I know how it feels to receive a blood sugar reading, or any health marker, that is unhealthy and makes no sense.

I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2002. My doctor was astounded that my urine test for a UTI depicted high blood sugar. I remember reading a quote to focus on prognosis, not diagnosis. A deeply spiritual friend told me that in time diabetes would become a dear friend. She was correct. Some days I grow weary keeping up with my dear friend.

Diabetes functions as an authentic passport to other people, or countries, with unwelcome medical conditions. I connect earnestly with everyone standing in the Customs and Immigration lines awaiting treatment options. We all share the human condition of suffering no matter our country of origin.

When I was young I was arrogant. I believed that I was exempt from medical complications because I did not smoke and exercised regularly. I was certain that I would live in outstanding health and die at the ripe old age of 95. My diabetes passport opened my heart and mind to the reality that life surprises all of us. This is the human condition.

When my friend was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer I understood her shock and anxiety.

Some passports are visible to everyone you pass on the street. Others, like diabetes, can hide within your physical body. I now know that we never really know what is going on with a person. Mean cashier? Maybe she was just diagnosed with a medical condition.

Yes, diabetes has become a dear friend. It is my passport linking me to the human condition.

10 Reasons to Send Your Child to Yoga

My Young Hearts Yoga students love attending yoga. Here are the top reasons why, in their own words:

1. I relax, finally

2. There is no competition, Kem says if I breathe deeply I am doing yoga

3. I feel empowered and confident learning poses such as headstand

4. I have learned to manage stress better because Kem teaches breathing techniques, mantras, affirmations and relaxation

5. Yoga helps my competitive sports by understanding my body’s alignment

6. Yoga helps my body with proprioception, or where each limb is in space on my mat

7. In privates, I get to share my worries about tests and projects and exhale the anxiety

8. I know I can achieve several of the more than 1,000 yoga asana poses

9. The names of poses are funny

10. I am learning to live mindfully and with gratitude

Namaste.

Kem

Rebooting 78-year-old Larry with Yoga

By Kem Lee

This past June I taught Larry how to meditate and practice chair yoga. Larry is a 78-years-young grandfather who was visiting his Atlanta family in June. He lost his wife of fifty years in a sudden car crash 18 months ago and was curious about the often blogged value of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, or MMY.

Larry had read many blogs on the value of MMY and he felt an explorer’s calling. As a yoga teacher, I know the value of rebooting our brains with meditation and opening our hips and spines with yoga.

Even after his loss, Larry believes his life has begun again. He is writing a book about dying and the teachings I shared found in Buddhism dovetailed with his interests. Larry especially benefitted from the loving-kindness meditation practice known as Tonglen.

Larry spoke at an AA meeting while in Atlanta and inspired a large crowd with his background story of family, cancer, entrepreneurship and sudden death.

Larry inspires me to commit to our lives, as they unfold, at any age. This curious man knows he has personal and powerful information to share with his peers. He is willing to be vulnerable with his own story.

Here is how he beautifully closed his speech at the AA meeting. Enjoy his courageous words about “rebecoming the real me” at age 78.

“But loving kindness is my emerging way of treating others. I work hard to control what goes on in my head every day. Because that’s what goes on with every one of us. Every day and night. 168 hours a week.

And if I get off the track to re-becoming the real me, I am engulfing the real me inside. Not being the loving and kind person I once was – and hope to re-become.”

Namaste Larry.

Yoga, Heart Rate Variability and Magic

By Kem Lee

This blog contains hard science! Those of us who call yoga friend know that we simply feel better after practicing any form of yoga. Science now has data proving that magic, or alchemy of yoga can be measured.

Yoga has been measured to improve heart rate variability, balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system through mindful breathing and sensation awareness.

Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, author of the fantastic book The Body Keeps the Score, explains beautifully how the ancient practice of yoga helps post-traumatic stress by increasing activation of the insula and medial prefrontal cortex.

PTSD patients have low heart rate variability scores and learning to breathe consciously creates balance in our autonomic nervous system. Patients practicing regular breathing techniques, taught in yoga, are less vulnerable to diseases of inflammation such as cancer and heart disease.

In a calm state, we feel safe. Our bodies know this on a cellular level.

Imagine your mind is a jet that wants to soar in the skies. Trauma, fear, and doubt of any size holds you back. Your breath will actually open the door to your cockpit. Noticing the space, or body of the jet around you allows you to feel safe, ready to fly.

When our bodies feel safe we begin to find safety in our sensations, opening the cockpit to safety in our emotions. Just like a yoga asana that is challenging, we learn to hold the pose, inhale and exhale and recognize the challenge. We learn to practice yoga without judgment.

I always remind my students to take your thimble of trauma, or highly charged emotions onto the mat. Science proves that mind, body and spirit magic happens.