What is Kamili Yoga®?
Kamili Yoga® is an Africentric system for Black holistic wellness. From the African Swahili word for “complete” and the Indian Sanskrit word for “union,” Kamili Yoga® teaches yogic enlightenment through the lens of African ancestry. It is a contemporary system with three core tenets rooted in the exploration of traditional Pan-African knowledge and concepts, from African ancestral practices across the Motherland to customs of Black descendants dispersed around the world. Kamili Yoga® addresses numerous needs: the need for more culturally diverse Yoga systems, the need for more Yoga systems that de-center Whiteness, and the need for more Yoga systems that celebrate the beautiful depths of Black and African being.
One of the most widely spoken languages of continental Africa, Kiswahili 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 Tenet of Philosophy
Kamili Yoga® is about creating complete union in three primary areas: union with Self, union with Others, and union with Spirit. Together these three main ideals create the KANUNI TATU. This is the first core tenet of the Kamili Yoga® system.
The KANUNI TATU, Kiswahili for “three principles,” are rooted in Black psychology, African community philosophies, and universal elements of African spiritual traditions. There are 21 total secondary principles in the Kamili Yoga® system, and each one is necessary for complete union with Self, with others, and with Spirit. For a lost connection with one can mean the lost connection with all.
Practice complete union with Self by focusing on your individual growth and development through each dimension of soulful being: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and universal.
KANUNI za KIJAMII
Practice complete union with others by focusing on your community connections and healthy relationships with others through the African philosophies of Ubuntu and Ma’at.
KANUNI za KIROHO
Practice complete union with Spirit by focusing on your connection with the Divine Source through altar work, prayer, and sacred disciplines based on your personal faith and belief systems.
“The Complete Ritual”
The Tenet of Practice
Most colonized Yoga practices use motion solely as body-focused exercise. In Kamili Yoga® we use movement in ritual. Rituals are a part of African spiritual traditions around the world, and are used to manifest desired realities, show honor and gratitude, commune with the Divine Source, and more.
The conscious awareness practice of Kamili Yoga® is IBADA KAMILI, which is Kiswahili for “the complete ritual.” The second tenet of the system, this ritual is a structured practice with five specific components that bring you into deeper connection with Spirit, ancestors, and your own inner divinity. Another translation for IBADA KAMILI is “perfect worship,” which speaks to the essence of the practice.
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.
ELIMU na HEKIMA
“Education and Wisdom”
The Tenet of Pursuit
Part of the global struggle of the African continent and diaspora is having our oral traditions destroyed by colonizers and being kept from our histories by slaveholders. In present day, we must choose to seek out lost knowledge to reclaim our personal and collective power. We must connect to more of our rich and diverse Pan-African cultures, both ancestral and modern, through the intentional study of our Black legacies and African heritages. This conscious pursuit of “education and wisdom” is expressed in Kiswahili as ELIMU na HEKIMA, which is the third core tenet of Kamili Yoga®.
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.
I am Eternity Philops (they/Mx.), owner of Soul Liberation Wellness and creator of Kamili Yoga®. Like many Black folks, I used to believe that Yoga wasn’t for me. I used to not know a “downward dog” from an awkward push-up. When my Yoga journey began, I actually had no desire to ever become a Yoga teacher, making this path I’ve traveled nothing short of kismet.
Yoga is Universal
Though the literal term “yoga” is of South Asian origin, the concepts within Yoga belong to all of humanity. Civilizations all over the world and throughout time have developed their own ideas and methods of reaching enlightenment; “yoga” is simply the systematization of particular ideas and methods from a particular society and era.
Now “yoga” has spread and evolved, and the creation of formal yoga systems is no longer limited to India and South Asia. Rather than the origin or age of a system, what is most important is that it honors the true essence of what yoga is meant to be.
The Kamili Yoga Affirmation
My body bears strength, solid and firm
I am earth
My heart burns pure, a passionate flame
I am fire
My mind flows freely, calm 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