About Our Guest- Kira Leskew
Kira Leskew is the Founder and CEO of The Eagle Institute Ltd. She started The Eagle Institute to help business leaders and entrepreneurs learn the skills that helped her the most on her business and personal journey. These are meditation and self-healing skills.
Her clients have healed issues, whether stress and burnout, or personal growth issues in less than a year, when they had been struggling with the same issues often for decades. She is personally certified as an advanced yoga and pranayama teacher, which she completed 18 years ago. Since that time, she\’s trained in Mindfulness, Vajrayana, psychic healing and Ho’onoponopono. She completed this practice and training at the same time as founding and/or running 7 different businesses.
Full Podcast Transcription
People aren\’t using their minds they\’re trying to do it the hard way. Learn to do it the easy way. That\’s the advice and then you get the best of all worlds. You get the emotional health, you get the mental health, you get the physical health, and you get the business results.
Diva Nagula 00:22
Hello, this is Dr. Diva Nagula. Welcome to From Doctor To Patient, where our goal is to bring you topics of discussion that will educate you on the various healing modalities to help balance the mind, body and spirit. This is Dr. Nagula recording our next podcast guest Kira Leskew. Kira is an accomplished entrepreneur with over 25 years experience having built seven businesses of her own, two of them reaching multi-million dollar sales. Her business training includes graduating from AGI as a Jonah and entrepreneurial master\’s program held jointly by MIT. Kira has had three nominations for RBC, Canadian female entrepreneur of the year from new startups. Kira is also a decorated athlete with multiple records and swimming. And she\’s also in the Macassar Sports Hall of Fame as a master swimmer. She\’s trained in yoga, mindfulness, pranayama and intuition, development of healing with 12,000 hours combined, of all disciplines. Well, Kira, I appreciate you joining with us, we\’re going to take a deep dive and talk about yoga, mindfulness, and how this relates to strategies that can be utilized by an entrepreneur. And my book, it\’s called from doctor to patient, it takes the reader in a journey of my life as an entrepreneur and how it ultimately led me to developing cancer, I was diagnosed with non Hodgkins lymphoma, I feel that a lot of the ailments that I had suffered, which I was not privy to at the time, but looking back on it, I really can see that my stress was constant, and I didn\’t have any strategies to relieve my stress. And you\’re very experienced in mindfulness. And you also have the experience being an entrepreneur, so you know how important these strategies are for the entrepreneurial mind. And so let\’s talk about how you you use this to heal yourself as an entrepreneur.
Yeah, well, the first reason why I even did this was because as an entrepreneur, I was in very difficult situations at a very young age, and had, despite my athletics career, where I did develop a lot of resilience for dealing with stress, it didn\’t prepare me enough for what it required being an entrepreneur. And I was in some very challenging industries, and I had to learn stress reduction techniques. I had tons of health problems, I had migraines, I had low blood pressure, I had food allergies, I developed insomnia, and just, I was burnt out as well, like, I wasn\’t thinking straight anymore. You know, quite a few things happen that just brought me to the realization that this could not continue, I was on a self destructive path. And I saw other people in my industries that were on a self destructive path with heart attacks, with strokes, with diabetes, with bowel symptoms, and cancer and like really serious things. And I knew that if I continued, I was going to be like them or worse. And so I decided, okay, I wanted to be able to do something about this. And I knew from my sports background, I did have training in sports psychology, so I knew the importance of reducing stress loads, and I knew the importance of the mind, although I didn\’t have the level of
training that I have now. So I was introduced to yoga. And to be honest, I didn\’t like it at first, and I didn\’t like it because I wasn\’t used to slowing down. It felt very uncomfortable for me. But at the same time, while I was not liking it, I knew that this was the thing that was going to help me and that I needed it very badly. And I was willing to go through that little bit of awkwardness to get to that path. Less than a year later, I was in my yoga teacher training, yoga and pranayama teacher training, which is the breathing techniques that aren\’t always taught with yoga, and it changed my life. Not only was I healthier when these health problems started to get rid of, I was working less. I was getting better results in less time. And when I did that my business grew and I\’m like, okay, how did that happen? But that\’s the benefit like people don\’t realize the impact of when we\’re experiencing stress, all the things that it affects and the way it affects the mind. We don\’t see The way out of the situation until we learn to stop the stress. And then that\’s when we can see how to get out of these situations.
Diva Nagula 05:08
For you, what was the tipping point where you knew you needed to seek help?
There are a couple things that happened. The first thing was one of my biggest customers, they\’re in automotive and appliance, their person that did the scheduling and was responsible for keeping orders on time, had a heart attack. And then before they, they phoned us and told us that and they really didn\’t know how to what they needed done for that day, because the penalties are huge. I mean, you can get a million dollar bill for being
an hour late on things. So there\’s a lot of stress.
Diva Nagula 05:42
Talk about stress
So the general manager phoned me. And then two hours later, the owner of the company phoned me and said that the general manager had had a heart attack. And I was in my mid 20s, at the time, I think was about 24. And I just knew if I stayed on this path, that was going to be me. And then another thing happened a few few weeks to a month later was that I was going in on a midnight shift because our factory ran 24 hours a day. Luckily, it
was the middle of winter and I fell asleep while I was driving and hit a snowbank
Diva Nagula 06:19
I know, I know I was divine divine intervention, because it could have happen in a lot of bad places. It happened in a place where there was a very soft soft snowbank and I just came to rest and nothing bad happened. And I just said, that\’s it like this can\’t continue. Like I\’ve been given three warnings now. To work personal one was personal. That\’s
enough for me, I\’m going to deal with this, so.
Diva Nagula 06:45
That\’s amazing that at least you saw those warnings, and they just yeah, you\’re in tune with that. And we\’re able to change the out. For me, it was a little too late. I had basically exited my business in my practice. And then a year following is when I was diagnosed, so the cancer was already in me brewing. And it was just it had percolated enough to where it was visible. And that\’s how it was found. For me, I had lymph nodes, it was swollen all over. But I have so many friends that are entrepreneurs, and everyone has that mindset. And they\’re in that grind of just of just pushing forward at all costs. And it\’s like, you know, in my book talks about strategies to employ to just to take a step back and be present and be mindful and just allow that to be a source of ease and a strategy to use regularly just to get out of that grind. And out of that mindset, what would you recommend for people like my friends who are entrepreneurs or for any entrepreneur, for that matter, and to take control of their selves for better wellbeing?
The first thing is, is that we\’ve been sold a myth that is absolutely not true about high performance, and that is that we are supposed to grind. The science just doesn\’t agree with it, in my personal experience, certainly doesn\’t agree with it. As an elite athlete, I never had my best performances when I was training the most. As an entrepreneur, I my
companies did never not have their highest performance when I was stressed out or other people at the top are stressed out. When I take people through burnout recovery programs, and they\’re entrepreneurs, we cut back the amount of time they\’re working in shockingly low, I\’m like, if you\’re burnt out, you\’ve got through, I tell them, you\’ve got three hours a day to work. And they\’re like, Oh my God, my business is gonna fall apart, what happens is two or three months later, their businesses grow. Because they\’re in the way of the growth because they\’re not making good decisions. They\’re not seeing things clearly, the fight or flight part of their brain is running the show. And they usually have a whole bunch of health problems in emotional issues and relationship issues as a result of the fact
that their nervous system is caught up in fight or flight. You stop that process and things start to turn around and you can look at things objectively, you can think more creatively, you can make better decisions. And the science agrees that that\’s what high performers do. People that are the top 5% of their industry, and even in sports, that it\’s the ones that have that relax that ease. You know, they talk about athletes high that\’s a real thing. That\’s when I had my best performance. I had an out of body experience. I was like watching myself swim. I got my heart rate wasn\’t even up. Now at that time. I had mononucleosis, and I couldn\’t even walk up a flight of stairs. I did my training through, you know, visualization, which is one of like a precursor to meditation that mattered more than the training. So people aren\’t using their minds. They\’re trying to do it the hard way. They learn to do it the easy way. That\’s the advice. And then you get the best of all worlds, you get the emotional health, you get the mental health, you get the physical health, and you get the business results. And I think the key is, is that, yes, people are aware of this in
the back of their mind, or like, they know they should be more mindful, they should, they should definitely dial down the fight or flight response and be more parasympathetic. But it\’s like, they need to people need to implement this as a routine. And in our in the way we live in society, we\’re always looking for a quick fix. This isn\’t a quick fix. This is something that, you know, you might feel some immediate results. But in order to actually make a difference, you have to practice this on a regular basis, you know, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, pranayama.
Diva Nagula 10:43
Right, I mean, wouldn\’t you agree?
I totally agree, it is a relatively quick fix, if you stick with it. Now the quick fix, people want one and done. It\’s not one and done. Like anything that\’s health related or high performance related. It\’s about habits. And we know that, like people that are at the top of whatever it is they do, they\’re joyful when they do it. And they do it a lot. So with the mindfulness with healthful eating with, you know, impactful relationships, it\’s about our day to day habits. Now, the thing is that people don\’t realize how much time they\’re wasting. Now, in addition to my meditation background, I teach Theory of Constraints, which teaches businesses how to optimize things 70% of what every person does in their job every day is waste. When we look at how much the mind can operate, most of that is waste as well. So if you take all that waste out and put it into something useful, like recovery, the time that you actually are working and doing something useful to progress is at the highest level it can be. The truth is that not every activity we do contributes the same amount to the outcomes we\’re trying to get. So take out the stuff that isn\’t contributing, put in the stuff that\’s going to help you recover, and be at your best when you\’re doing the things that really matter. And that\’s how people get those highly leveraged results. And that they\’re able to get, you know, great results in less time,
Diva Nagula 12:15
right. And so give me an example of a client who comes to you what shape they\’re in, and then what you do for them to get them through the stages of relaxation, and get them out of fight or flight and allow them to heal.
Yeah, so it honestly depends where they\’re at. If people are in extreme, extreme case, and they need something to work really fast, I actually do pranayama with them, which is the breathing techniques, because it can work in 15 minutes per day. If people aren\’t quite at that level yet, then I typically work with them on managing their schedule in literally going through their schedule and taking things out and reducing things that they\’re doing because they can\’t see it clearly anymore. So we help them analyze it. And then we put that time into learning meditation, and mindfulness and action techniques. And then that slows the stress response down increases the you know, the positive hormones that we have in our body and activates their creative mind. And the combination of the two
learning mindfulness techniques mindful are three mindfulness and action techniques and working on their schedule. I mean, they get healthy in their businesses take off, like normally, businesses, on average, grow 50% within the next 18 months. And people work usually less than half of what they were working previously.
Diva Nagula 13:46
That\’s phenomenal. And then in what time, and they\’re healthy. And then what timeframe
Do you see this occur like over a period of weeks, months.
Typically, it takes people like two to three months, but some people are honestly can get it
in the first week, they just need someone to tell them that it\’s okay to do this. And they
can\’t and then they kind of run with it. But there\’s a significant from a biological point of
view. 40 days is a very important timeframe for forming new habits. And that\’s because
our blood completely replaces itself, we have all new blood after 40 days. So if we\’ve had
a lot of different difficult hormones from stress, or you know, cortisol, or whatever it is,
well, that blood is all new blood, it hasn\’t been exposed to that. So when we take them
through the process, we try to make sure that any technique or process we do goes
beyond those 40 days, so that they\’re for sure into a place where they now have a new
biological setpoint that their biology feels different.
Diva Nagula 14:46
So that\’s really interesting because that you\’re talking about a physiological method
where you know, if you stick it out, this is the rationale why you need to stick it out for 40
days. So I think intuitively if people understand that it makes sense to stick it out. that
long. I want to get into pranayama. And just a little bit because I know that\’s your expertise in a lot of listeners probably haven\’t heard of it or know what it is. But before we
get into that I wanted to ask about what\’s a good metric of you know, from measurement
in terms of their stressors and their, whether they\’re in fight or flight or whatever they\’re in
a parasympathetic or rest and digest type of phase.
The science shows that high performers like when we asked them, you know, a scale of
one to 10, 10 being I was stressed 100% of the time for the past month, or three months, or
whatever the timeframe is, and one being It was 10% or less, just intuitively, where do you
think high performers would score on that? pretty stressed out? That\’s not actually true.
When we look at the top top performers, they score on average, between one and two.
The reason why people get so confused about this is that we project how we would feel in
the situation in which that high performers performing. So we look at someone who\’s like,
say, an NBA all star, or maybe someone that does work that\’s kind of dangerous, or
maybe an executive that\’s like, oh, my gosh, they have so many things they have to
handle. And we think of how we would feel in that situation. And we think it\’s stress. But in
those situations, those people actually aren\’t stressed, they\’re actually enjoying
themselves, or they\’re focused and relaxed in the moment they\’re in that, we call athletes
high. But that can happen to anyone, it can happen to a surgeon, to an executive, to you
know, someone who\’s a firefighter, so they\’re not actually stressed. And the truth is, is that
we want that stress to not be present, we want to be relaxed, relaxed and alert is a high
performance state. It leads to creativity, it leads to better communication, and it leads to
better biology. So the first thing we need to do is break that mental connection, that stress
is high performance, and it\’s leading us to the things we want. Now, if you\’re getting
stressed, you need to stop, take a time out, calm yourself down and then ask we\’re really
what should I be doing here? So that\’s one of the first steps is learning to recognize it. The
second one is getting skills to stop it and to prevent it.
Diva Nagula 17:18
It\’s wonderful. Those tips are great. I wouldn\’t have understood that.
It\’s a misconception.
Diva Nagula 17:24
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. [Hey, Dr. diva here, thank you to all my listeners who
supported my book and help to make it a huge success. You all helped us hit number one
in Barnes and Noble. Number one in the categories of oncology, cancer, healing, and
medical ebooks in Amazon, and number 21 in all of the Kindle Store. If you haven\’t gotten
your copy, you can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, or booksamillion.com. Visit
From DoctortoPatient.com to become part of our growing community of health and
wellness aficionados and to learn more.] Let\’s go into a modality that you use for your
clients and pranayama. And let\’s go ahead and talk about that and what is it and how do
you use it and what is it good for?
Okay, awesome questions. So pranayama First of all, what does it mean? So prana and
Yama, it comes from a Sanskrit word and pranayama is one of the eight branches of yoga.
So what we think of as Yoga is really Asana which means poses some styles of yoga do
teach some pranayama which is the breathing techniques. So prana means breath. It also
means lifeforce. And Yama means to control or direct. So pranayama means to control or
direct your lifeforce. Now, as a doctor, what\’s the first thing happens when we\’re a baby?
When we\’re born, we start breathing. Right?
Diva Nagula 19:11
Yeah, take that big breath. Deep breath. Yes,
Right. And what determines when we die?
Diva Nagula 19:16
When there\’s lack of breathing, right.
Lack of breathing, exactly. So intuitively, and even on a very practical sense, we know that
breath is very connected to life. The thing that most people don\’t realize is that it controls
and effects every single physical system we have in a body, it helps with digestion, it hurts
digestion, it helps with our hormone levels, it helps you know, pump the blood through the
body. And all of those other things have indirect effects and direct effects on all the other
systems in our body, including what part of the brain is working because that, you know,
fight or flight can stop or start with our breath, we can control that. Now the amazing
thing about breathing is it\’s the system in a body which anybody can control and does control, both automatically and intentionally. So it works, whether we control it or not. But
we can also take charge of that. Now, people that can do advanced techniques, and they
can learn to control things that we wouldn\’t normally think of being controllable, but my
bicep doesn\’t fire unless I tell it to fire, right. But my lungs work, they pump, but I can also
tell them to change how they\’re working. So that\’s why working with breath is so powerful,
it affects all these systems, and we can change it. And it works. If we\’re under stress, it has
a certain behavior, when we want to relax and feel good, we can change it directly by
doing specific techniques. So what pranayama is, is a series of techniques that people can
use to change first of all the stress response and stop that. And then there\’s more than
400 techniques that we can use as vitamins to have specific emotional, mental, and
physical responses in the body.
Diva Nagula 21:09
So there\’s a specific pranayama that can be employed to rid or enhance an emotion.
Yes, so it works the overall response, but then we can have ones that work with specific
thing. So if someone\’s feeling lethargic or lazy, there are pranayama techniques you can
do for that, if you\’re feeling anger, there are specific pranayama techniques that you can
use, so that you\’re not spreading that response in the body continually and breaking sort
of the triggers in the nervous system where you go to that anger as a default. You can
heat the body, it can cool the body, it can improve digestion, it can improve liver
functioning, kidney functioning, blood flow, the amount of oxygen you have, and the lis.
goes on. Exactly. And it doesn\’t take very long, you can do this in less than 15 minutes a
day. If you do the right techniques, and you do them correctly.
Diva Nagula 22:04
It\’s very interesting. I mean, it also, you know, you can also stop the emotion from
cascading. So if you feel the anger coming on, and you know, you\’re supposed to employ
the technique of pranayama, you automatically stop that cascade of emotions and
changes in your body by just realizing that right. So part of this part of the battle right
there, and then you start employing pranayama. And then then you\’re all you\’re on your
way to really being in a parasympathetic state.
Yeah. And what people don\’t realize is that we we have an like in yoga sense, they call it a
yoga, an emotional body, as well as a physical body, actually are 10 bodies and mental
and there\’s mental bodies as well. And that when we don\’t fully process emotion in from a
Western psychology, we would call this unconscious and subconscious, that those we can,
you can get angry like that, yes, over something that shouldn\’t make you that angry. It\’s
because you haven\’t fully processed the anger, and the pranayama techniques, if you\’ve
continued to practice them, not only they help you with the anger in the moment, but
they help you get rid of that stuff that\’s been trapped, often in physical parts of your body,
as well as the mental and emotional parts so that you get rid of that so you don\’t get
Diva Nagula 23:21
And by practicing this every day, I think you mentioned this before, you\’d see improved
performance over time, you\’d see improved mental capacity, cognition. And I\’m guessing
that as a result of all this, your sleep is improved too. And your overall health is better.
That\’s fascinating, because it\’s just such a simple technique. And it avoids all the other
band aids that a lot of Western medicine typically finds and applies, you know, like blood
pressure medications and, and anti anxiety medications and anti depressants, in my mind,
all that can be eliminated or at least toned down a bit by starting to practice mindfulness
practicing pranayama and yoga.
Yeah, yeah, that\’s very much true. Like, I know, the list of things myself that I peeled. I used
to have extremely low blood pressure. That\’s gone. I had
Diva Nagula 24:12
Well, you had low blood pressure that was part of your flight fight or flight response?
Yeah. And that\’s due to a lot of different reasons. But yeah, I had extremely low blood
pressure, and I had all the effects but it was just borderline low, so no one would do
anything about it. So I\’m like, Okay, I\’m gonna learn how to fix this with yoga, which I did
and then the answer was pranayama. What I also affect hips problems, migraines,
Diva Nagula 24:38
Talk about how it helps with your your hip problems.
Why that why that works is because there was emotional stuff that was trapped, and then
when I started doing now, these were advanced techniques because I\’ve been practicing
this for a while but it\’s stuff starts to loosen up all the tendons in the body are the last
thing to release emotionally. When you think about it, like muscle releases quickly, then
the connective tissues the next level, and then all the tendons that are in the joints are the
last to let go. So it took some work to begin, obviously, I\’m an expert at this. So I was able
to do that. But once I worked my well my way up to the advanced techniques, I did it in
less than 40 days. And this was a condition I was born with.
Diva Nagula 25:29
Oh, wow. Okay. So on your day to day routine, do you do everything? yoga, as well as
pranayama? Or do you just kind of mix and match depending on what your mood is like
and what stress level you\’re at.
Now I practice pranayama every day, because like, it works so quickly. And then I mostly
practice other styles of meditation. I do do some yoga, but I do other sports as well. And
honestly, once you learn pranayama, and some of the meditation techniques, you can
make any sport a meditation. Which is one of my favorite meditations, it\’s, you know, it\’s
meditation in action. Right? So that\’s kind of you think of the ninjas and stuff like that.
Right? Right. Like they have this amazing clarity. They\’re in this deep relaxation. But that\’s
the same true when I listened to elite athletes talk about, you know, they\’re talking about
the NBA Finals. I\’m like, all these guys are talking about meditation in action. Right?
Diva Nagula 26:27
You\’re right. That\’s, that\’s a good point. That\’s why they\’re, their stress levels are at a one
or two, which were describing better earlier. Right? Yeah, yeah. Because they\’re in that
Yeah, and flow state is a meditative state. And but you can train yourself to access that no
matter what you\’re doing.
Diva Nagula 26:42
It\’s so amazing. Most entrepreneurs, you know, are bio hackers. They try to hack their
system, by using supplements and any new number of techniques just to achieve flow.
And what really they\’re they\’re missing out on is this simple breathing technique like
pranayama, like you were talking about, that could achieve that very quickly.
Yeah, I mean, it Yeah, it\’s funny that we always end, we kind of avoid the things that are
actually the simple things that can actually really work. So as an athlete, I mean, for me,
flow came through focus. And that\’s how flow happens. People you need to learn to focus
and we want to do anything but that right? Exactly. The thing that works, it\’s reliable, it\’s
reliable, you can have it, no matter where you are doing, no matter anything, any
situation happens, you can be cut off from civilization. But if you have the skills, you can
still do this.
Diva Nagula 27:40
Right. And it\’s amazing, I think you\’d hit up this earlier is like breathing is the one exercise
or activity that we can perform consciously and unconsciously. So it\’s, it\’s, it\’s, it\’s an
important facet of life, and we\’re able to manipulate the breathing on our own. It\’s quite
an amazing feature that, you know, we\’re able to manipulate for our own better well
being, we\’re running close to being out of time. So for our for our listeners who are more
interested in reaching out to you or finding out more information about pranayama.
What\’s the best mode of getting in touch with you?
Yeah, so the to go to the eagle institute.com, we have right at the top, you can, you know,
we have a lot of free resources on there, first of all. And second of all, you can if you want
to talk with me, we do do evaluations for people, whether it\’s for stress level, or they just
want to learn, you know, meditation or pranayama, for whatever purpose to feel better
improved performance, get rid of stress, health reasons, they can just book an
appointment with us there and we can chat with what their goals are and what the best way is to achieve them.
Diva Nagula 28:51
Do you do training virtually,
I do all my training on zoom. Mostly we do do some live talks and live events. Usually a
company will invite us in, but most people we work with, you know, one on one or in small
groups over zoom. Yeah.
Diva Nagula 29:06
Awesome. Well, I\’m so intrigued. I think I want to enroll in your services and become one of
your clients. So
we\’d love to have you.
Diva Nagula 29:14
I\’m on this path of trying to get into more of a parasympathetic Zen like state and, you
know, I have noticed that deep breathing is so helpful. And I probably I\’m doing it too. I\’m
doing it on my own. I know it\’s helping but I can only imagine how much better it would
get if I if I if I\’m trained in pranayama. And the different techniques is directly over 400. So
this is wonderful.
The thing with pranayama, it works fast, so for people that maybe aren\’t quite ready to
meditate or they don\’t think they have the time then you can do this and 15 minutes a day.
For meditation you really need 40 minutes a day as a beginner because the first 25 is
warm up. Then that\’s what you need to get to 15. But with pranayama, it starts working
right away. So you don\’t need that.
Diva Nagula 30:06
And that feedback, that instant feedback that it\’s working, you know, will enable a person
to want to do it more frequently.
Exactly. And it\’s more, it\’s more interesting so you have stuff to pay attention to. So it\’s a
bit approachable for someone who\’s not used to sitting still, so.
Diva Nagula 30:23
Well, fantastic Kira. Thank you so much for joining us and be a lookout on your in your
email. I\’m going to send you a digital copy of my book, which will be coming out and Oh,
that\’s so great. And if you have a chance to read it, I\’d love your feedback.
I would love to do that. Thank you so much.
Diva Nagula 30:38
Thank you Have a good one.