Eternity Philops is a yoga instructor and creator of the Kamili Yoga Health & Wellness System.
A native of Garnern, N.C. (a small town just outside of Raleigh), she moved to Charlotte in 2005, after graduating from University of North Carolina-Greensboro. These days, she proudly calls the QC home.
Philops is ready to talk with qnotes. She’s at home: a two-story, sunbathed townhouse on the city’s east side. With her feline pal, a purring calico cat at her feet, she settles in to discuss sharing yoga with the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color), queer and trans communities; her joys and overcoming some hurdles.
How long have you been practicing yoga?
What made you decide to start instructing?
Spirit led me to instructing. I had no intention of actually doing any kind of instruction when I first started, but opportunity opened for me to be in yoga teaching training. As time went on, this is where I ended up. Originally, I would have been happy being a yoga teacher’s assistant.
There’s a unique and resonating logo that’s been popping up on your social media, posters, merchandise and quite a few things. It seems to speak heavily to Black women. Are men also welcomed to your classes?
Most certainly. The logo was chosen to be a woman, but it’s not actually about gender. So, it’s not meant to speak exclusively to women, but it acknowledges the power of women, how they are often the background and catalyst to empower social change. The first human was a Black woman, so it acknowledges how we all come from a Black woman.
What is Kamili Yoga and what makes it any different than other forms of yoga?
Kamili Yoga is my modern Afrocentric system for Black holistic wellness. It is a system that centers African culture, history and identity through the practice of yoga. What makes Kamili Yoga different is the fact that it’s a modern system I personally created and launched in 2020. The system utilizes Swahili [language, also called Kiswahili; it’s predominantly a mix of local Bantu languages and Arabic] for its terms, it’s very spiritually based. There’s movement, but yoga poses are not required. Your movement can be dancing or drumming. There’s an emphasis on pursuing Black knowledge, encouraging yogis to continue to study and acquire diverse knowledge. It’s the only modern [yoga] system created by a Black queer person.
You mentioned Kamili Yoga in connection with holistic wellness. Does that include mental health?
Most definitely. Within this system we look at the self as five dimensions; physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and universal. I teach that each individual dimension needs to be addressed and cared for. We have to have greater awareness for each individual dimension because all of them together make us who we are and connects us to all of life. Mental health is definitely a key part of that. I deal with mental health issues myself. I deal with depression. A lot of times, with yoga, the focus is only on the physical. With Kamili Yoga, the holistic part is that we’re dealing with all the dimensions of self. So, for people dealing with trauma, and we all have trauma at some point, you’re encouraged to address trauma, through therapy and support groups as well as yoga. Kamili Yoga means complete union. That is our goal. Complete union with self, complete union with others and complete union with spirit.
When you’re not practicing or teaching yoga what are some of your joys or hobbies?
Anime! Anime is my happy place. Even when I’m going through some of my mental health episodes, I often turn to anime because it keeps me balanced. And, doing fun shit with my partner. We like to watch movies and series and talk shit about them. And we like to go out and find fun places to eat. We’re getting back to that now that things are opening up again.
Speaking of partners, one of your recent social media posts seemed to affirm those who live polyamorous lives. Are you poly, and what does that mean in your life?
Being polyamorous for me means that I embrace the freedom to have multiple intimate relationships. Whereas with monogamy it’s just one — though intimacy isn’t necessarily about sex. There are asexual people and aromantic people who practice polyamory.
For those who don’t understand that concept, how do you deal with the stigma, if there is any, of being openly poly?
The funny thing is, if anyone is judging me, they haven’t had the guts to say it to my face. I feel like a lot of people I know are pretty conscious, aware and growing. I’m in a space where I’m going to live and walk in my truth. I’m not really concerned about what people think. The only person I need to be concerned about is my partner.
Is your partner okay with it?
She certainly is.
Thanks for your candor. We’ve covered a lot of serious subjects. On a lighter note, what makes you smile?
Playing and dancing to Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” anime, my sweety and connecting with my yoga students. Knowing the work that I do, truly benefits others.
That’s a lot of smiles. Anything else you want qnotes readers to know about Eternity?
I’m a dope ass motherfucker. I’m serious. You can put that down. Spell it like I spell it: “Dope ass muthaphukkah,” who loves connecting with new people and invites you to approach me, to ask whatever you wanna’ know. I’m very transparent and approachable.
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