What is Kamili Yoga™?
Kamili Yoga™ is a modern and holistic African-American system of Yoga. From the African Swahili word for “complete” and the Indian Sanskrit word for “union,” Kamili Yoga™ is born of the need for more systems of Yoga that specifically center the cultures and histories of the African continent and diaspora. Kamili Yoga™ consists of three structured core tenets, each of which is rooted in the exploration and celebration of Pan-African traditions and peoples, from the African ancestors spread across the Motherland to the Black descendants dispersed around the world.
The Nguzo Tatu
The Three Pillars
Like most other Yoga systems, Kamili Yoga™ is about creating union. Specifically, we work toward union with Self, union with others, and union with Spirit. These three pillars, the Nguzo Tatu, make up the first tenet of Kamili Yoga™. Their interconnectedness are symbolized by the triangle in the Kamili Yoga™ title design. Each pillar is necessary, for a lost connection with one can mean the lost connection with all.
Union with Self
Focus on your individual growth and development through each dimension of being: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and universal.
Union with Others
Focus on your community connections and healthy relationships with others through the African philosophies of Ubuntu and Ma’at.
Union with Spirit
Focus on your connection with the Divine Source through alter work, prayer, and sacred disciplines based on your personal faith and belief systems.
Mwendo is the Swahili word for “motion.” In Kamili Yoga™, we use mwendo less as a form of exercise and more as a form of sacred expression and connection. It is part of the second tenet, Ibada Kamili, “the complete ritual.”
Originating in West Africa, Adinkra symbols represent proverbs and philosophical concepts, and are culturally used for decoration on clothing, pottery, and other items. In Kamili Yoga™, they are used as visual and verbal affirmations to uplift the soul, as well as to focus the mind and heart during meditation and prayer.
Reclaiming Our Knowledge
The third tenet of Kamili Yoga™ is Elimu Na Hekima — “education and wisdom” — about rich and diverse Pan-African cultures, both ancestral and modern. Part of the historical struggle of the African continent and diaspora is having our oral traditions destroyed by colonizers and being kept from reading and writing by slaveholders. In present day we must prioritize re-learning lost knowledge, and reclaim our personal and collective power through the intentional study of our Black legacies and African heritages.
Throughout history, Black queer folx have been a cornerstone in social movements, and despite homophobia from their own people, continue to support and uplift their communities. Kamili Yoga™ is an inclusive and affirming system, and honors the contributions of LGBTQIA+ Blacks and Africans to the struggles of liberation, from Civil Rights organizer Bayard Rustin to Marsha P. Johnson of the Stonewall riots to co-founders of #BlackLivesMatter, Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors.
One of the most widely spoken languages of continental Africa, Swahili is used to translate key terms of the Kamili Yoga™ system. Doing so helps Black practitioners embrace one of their many ancestral links to the Motherland.
The Kamili Affirmation
My body bears strength, solid and firm
I am earth
My heart burns pure, a passionate flame
I am fire
My mind flows calmly, open and clear
I am water
My spirit breathes gently, a sacred breath
I am air
My being is empty of ego, yet encompasses all
I am space
My soul is a reflection of all existence
I am life
And I am complete
Written by Eternity Philops. Copyright © 2020
Ready to Become a Kamili Yogi?
Lessons on the Kamili Yoga™ system are available as virtual classes, private sessions, live cohorts, and membership to the online learning collective. These offerings help aspiring practitioners learn the tenets of Kamili Yoga™ and master how to make the system a part of their everyday life.