New Year Blessings to all of you!
The Buddha Spotlight introduces you to Yogini Khara Perkins!
“I am ever grateful to the technology, science and beauty of Yoga and to all that have shared their gifts directly and indirectly with me. From my introduction to yoga as a child, developing a consistent practice in young adulthood, during each pregnancy, and as a mother, it has and continues to assist in all aspects of my life experience. Having been exposed to a variety of approaches to Hatha yoga, most notably Iyengar and more recently Yin. I have come to acknowledge that there is great benefit in mixing our approach to the practice of yoga. There is no one way all the time for everyone. Cultivating our awareness of what we need can change as we experience ourselves from the gross to the subtle. It is from this perspective of healing and connection that I seek to be of service to others. In our sharing, growing, and “wholing” may we all recognize, acknowledge, and surrender to the innate wisdom within each of us.”
Goddess Mena Love: When did you fall in LOVE with yoga?
Kara Perkins: I fell in LOVE with yoga for the first time while practicing with Bonnie Quiceno in Miami, FL. I was finishing up undergraduate studies and living in the dorms at the time I started the classes, which were held 2 minutes walking distance away. My practice became more consistent during this time. As I practiced at least 3 times a week, the benefits were very easy to recognize and felt so wonderful. Bonnie’s classes are challenging and a fusion, so to speak, of yoga and it’s limbs, dance, martial arts, bodywork, sound therapy, energy medicine, and sacred geometry. There is space to embody oneself and the importance of staying connected to this space for guidance and wisdom. And most importantly is her use of play as a fundamental ingredient to a “fresh” approach and perspective with all things, so that nothing becomes stale and that which is kept close resonates deeply and assists us with presence. These seedlings of experience are still growing and nurtured to this day. It also helped that the classes were so close in those days, a lot! I discovered that the days I felt like going the least were often deeper experiences. I fell in LOVE again when I practiced and ultimately did my teacher training with Subhadra Bowman of YogaAngels (CA and JA). I have received so much from Subhadra’s guidance. She introduced to me to Iyengar and his approach to yoga and it’s limbs, and the healing of yoga therapy. She is a medicine woman, firecracker, rule breaker, deeply passionate, super experienced, and committed to her best as a human, woman, teacher, entrepreneur and mother. I am so grateful that I have been in the presence of these amazing beings!
Goddess Mena Love: What style of yoga do you practice? Why?
Khara: I do not practice any one particular style, although most fall under the umbrella of Hatha yoga. I mostly draw from Iyengar, some Yin, and some Kundalini. I would like to practice and learn more Kemetic, aspects of Ashtanga, and Kundalini. I also LOVE dance and martial arts. Why? Because it’s in my nature to have a variety of things mixed together. In many ways it’s all the same at the core and the different approaches can be sources of inspiration.
Goddess Mena Love: What was the turning point for you, that got you started on your existing spiritual routine?
Khara: A general gnawing of unease that really started to take shape as a pre-teen and continued to various depths of depression into my twenties. Reacquainting my self with yoga in combination with the dissatisfaction I was experiencing with myself and life crystallized the importance of practicing the tools I was learning in class. Having children has been the hugest catalyst to dig deeper, to clarify, and to continually practice to embody what keeps me most connected to my highest alignment possible in any given moment. I can feel quite far from my highest alignment pretty regularly, but I am reminded time and again that I can utilize my energy for anything I want to. Why spend it on cultivating/maintaining disconnection and lack mentality? I have found deep patterns within myself that favor the cultivation of disconnection within and outside of myself so the focus has become putting in to place new patterns and the practices that support me in doing so. The practice of Self-Care is the practice of Self-Love and is so crucial to embodying acceptance and appreciation for Self. Which then translates in to everything we are connected to. My spiritual routine evolves as I do.
Goddess Mena Love: Finish this statement. Yoga gives me access to….
Khara: Yoga gives me access to openness, oneness, acceptance, Self.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from teaching yoga?
Khara: “If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.” Yogi Bhajan
This quote helped me to build confidence towards teaching yoga. It still resonates every time. Far from feeling like a master, it is the type of exploration and “lab”, if you will, that arises out of playing with the role of teacher. In that light, teaching yoga has taught me that we are all students and teachers simultaneously all the time. It shows me the importance of practicing clear communication. It’s an honor to hold space as a “teacher”. Teaching feeds my life and practices and is a space and time to delve into what these can be. The classes I left feeling my worst have provided some of the greatest moments of growth and the classes I left feeling my best were when I was able to “get out of the way” while still being present. It has shown me that the class is a potential container for us all to experience our highest alignment and healing. It is what we bring or don’t bring to it and how we interpret and integrate the “lessons” that unfold before us. And if and how we listen to the answers we receive from our own inner guidance. We are our own greatest teachers because we determine what we learn and apply. Teaching has reaffirmed the belief that we all want to feel safe, accepted, and whole; essentially LOVED. Once we feel LOVED (foremost from our Self) we can heal and vibrate/hold higher and higher frequencies.
Goddess Mena Love: How important is it to change your diet while living a more spiritual life? How greatly does your diet impact your spiritual life?
Khara: The importance/relevance of one’s diet is tied to our spiritual pursuits and perceptions and changes accordingly. Diet cannot be separated from our spirituality. And food is not the only thing we eat/consume. We are what we consume on all levels in all ways. So what we listen to inside and outside of ourselves, the feelings we have, the emotions we harbor, the food we eat, the movements we make, etc. these all feed us on various levels and fill us and comprise our personality, mentality, physicality, the sum of our identity. How these things impact us determines how nutritious they are to our whole being. The energy transference and release are fundamental to the resonance within us. How catalyzed we are as a result of what we take in or take on is also evidence of how much we are benefited. Our awareness, our attention to this energy within ourselves and everything else supports us and is further supported by each choice/non-choice we make in regards to the quality/quantity of food or anything else we “eat”. This includes the energy we are infused with and bring to any given moment. An example of this in the “positive” is the blessing of food with prayer, song, awareness, gratitude, etc. Our energy and attention while blessing potentially impacts what we are eating to the point of transforming “negative” characteristics of the food into “positive” ones within our body, our being.
Masuru Emoto, known for the impact of energy on water, and the pictures he took of different water crystals exposed to different vibrations/energy clearly demonstrates this affect. The energy we transmit has the magic to transform. This is inherently spiritual. As we get clearer, honor and embody our spiritual connections more and more consistently we become more present with what vibrations we allow into our invironment/environment (internal/external respectively). Becoming more sensitive to the impacts, and less attached to the emotion, the ideas, or triggers around consumption. Our awareness and connection to why we are choosing to consume and/or allow something into our bodies is key. More than perhaps what we are specifically eating or drinking. I do not believe that to be a yogi one must be vegan or eat only organic, although one may find that it is more suitable as one refines and becomes clearer. Changing our relationship to food specifically through fasting, cleansing, or detoxing puts us in direct connection with the impacts on our bodies and mind and the habits we perpetuate around food, often unconsciously. And again this can be applied to all areas of our lives. So that we become more attentive to how we participate in the cycles of life that support, provide for, and nourish us. Our relationship to the cosmos, the earth, the elements, all of our relations, our food, etc. shifts as our consciousness grows. Spirit is within Everything.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s your favorite healthy comfort food?
Khara: Homemade vegan ice cream! One of the awesome aspects of living in Jamaica is having access to tropical superfoods. Like coconut, many varieties of mango, banana and avocado, raw chocolate, and so much more! And it’s super easy to make.
Goddess Mena Love: Who or what inspires you?
Khara: (My) children and Spirit
Goddess Mena Love: What’s your favorite quote?
Khara: You can’t run away from your Self – Bob Marley
The way you do anything, is the way you do everything – Suzanne Evans
This too shall pass – every parent and most humans on this earth!
Goddess Mena Love: How was your Kemetic yoga training experience?
Khara: I have yet to do an official Kemetic yoga training. So my experience mostly comes from the classes I have taken with Yirser Ra Hotep, Aunkh Aakhu and a few of their respective students. I find Kemetic yoga to be highly empowering, particularly because of the attention to Kemetic cosmology and use of the Kemetic pantheon of Gods and Goddesses and their symbolism. I love that it directly ties us to Africa. The more we make connections, the more evident the overlap of influences that tie us all together as humans becomes. We must All be included in the human story because we are All a part of the human story. For any part of us that is left out makes us all incomplete.
Goddess Mena Love: Do you have days where you just don’t feel like practicing yoga? If so, what keeps you motivated to continue your practice?
Khara: Hell yes, quite often I don’t feel like it! I am learning that this is absolutely fine and to look beyond what the surface of these moments are about. And again my children are HUGE motivators. When I still find myself resisting, it can feel like it takes my whole everything to put one foot in front of the other, to speak consciously, to take the deep breaths or sit outside or shape into a child’s pose: so I aim to implement whatever amount/extent of the tools and self-compassion I have to move through those most challenging moments. Choosing to be Alive, ultimately keeps me motivated to continue to practice. There is no way out, only through. I am tired of the mediocrity, fear, and miserableness that can pervade daily living. And the biggest control of that impact is making sure that I am nurturing my best, being playful, uncovering what supports my highest alignment and staying as open as possible. The time comes when we have had enough of the bullshit we uphold ourselves.
Goddess Mena Love: Why the move to Jamaica?
Khara: I left Los Angeles, CA where I was born and raised, to finish studies at FIU in Miami, FL. At FIU I met my future husband and baby daddy. He was born and primarily raised in Kingston, JA. When we were ready to make a move, we decided on Jamaica. I also enjoy living in new places, and Jamaica is full of beauty!
Goddess Mena Love: You participated and was one of the facilitators in the GITW 10 Day Inspirational Quest, in a video you posted you shed some light on “learning to look at the negative in a different light”, can you expound a bit more about that, and how your personal experiences brought you to think in this way?
Khara: If we agree that energy is energy no matter what label(s) we attach, that energy has intelligence and recycles itself and that where I place my attention energy then goes. It follows that wherever my attention is drawn to, there is information there. We have been operating on the premise of duality but it is also a continuum of the one same thing, i.e. yin and yang or two-sides to the same coin. These concepts express that on the other side of “whatever” is the perceived opposite. Just like the saying “on the other side of your fear is your truth” illustrates. Which is how a so-called negative thought can help us to unravel or get closer to the so-called positive and to our core. When we detach from labeling the thought (energy) bad or good and see it as a moment where our awareness/energy is focused then we can start to play with what is a part or at the root of these thoughts or emotions.
For instance, one day after comparing myself to some one else and starting to feel envious, I started to assess what I was envious of, really, and boiled it down more and more until it was clear that all the things I was envious of, were really projections of what I wanted for and from me. Really and truly the other person might not have had any of those things. Everything I think about others or that I tell myself someone else is thinking of me, are still my stories and what I want for or how I think of myself. I used the envy as a gateway to clarify what I wanted and to find the ways to bring these same qualities forth in a positive and supportive way in my life. Another layer to this is that because of our upbringing we are often more acquainted and/or comfortable with the negative. For me it has been so much that on another day I was looking at something from “The Desire Map” by Danielle LaPorte, and “asking” yet again what I wanted. I had absolutely no clue, speechless with my mouth open. I think I tried for a bit to conjure something and then probably put my journal down. So, I started pondering on where to start or how to start to know what I wanted. Over and over again, until I gave myself the permission to really hear that what I want can be found in what I don’t want when I reframe what I don’t want into a positive form. Instead of stifling the “I don’t want” and perpetuating cycles of habit, it can be utilized for clarity.
Another example, I want to figure out the characteristics of my ideal house to live in. If all I can think about is what I don’t want, then I start there until what I want starts to take shape and reveal itself (might not all come at the same time, be patient). I know that I don’t want to live in a dark house where I don’t feel or see sunlight. Which shows that I desire sunlight in the house that I live in. Then I can make this declaration of what I want, which was always there, but in a different form. Then I can become more definitive about the optimal feelings, amount of sunlight, and how to design this into the house I have currently and/or for the one I will emanate to the universe and manifest. It’s a useful habit to practice stating words in the positive/affirmative/present tense whenever we are communicating (especially to children). We can always restate them quietly or loudly when we find ourselves stating them in a negative way. Eventually we will have re-patterned the negative habits and live in a more positive framework.
Goddess Mena Love: Why do you think we are so hard on ourselves while in the process of trying to better ourselves?
Khara: As a generalization, because of how we are socialized, educated, domesticated (The Four Agreements), raised to interact with the world around us and within us. This shapes our major identity/personality and the myriad identities we attach to and utilize to uphold the constructs we have built our perception upon. Most of us are much more comfortable with fighting ourselves since it is a root feature of how we are raised. Add to that the amount of fear that pervades most of our upbringing and then becomes the major root of the patterns and coping strategies we create to survive our experiences that then become the sources of future complexities and disease. Unwittingly, our grandparents, parents, family, teachers, and us, perpetuate every day subtle or overt events/traumas/circumstances that create a disassociation with our Self.
It is rampant in the general Western approach to life. Disconnection, separation, the focus on mind over heart, on the masculine, the physical, individuality, etc. translates into how we approach everything else. We are taught and continue to practice the negation of self for others without having a bigger fabric of community to find a meaningful place within. We are left to resist ourselves in a perceived isolation while we force ourselves into tiny funny shaped boxes that we don’t fit into in an effort to fit with something/someone, to feel connected and accepted. I think it is a part of our design to externalize, to look outward for our meaning and acceptance, the problem comes when the external does not give us this or there is fear and mistrust, so that in turn we do not have guidance to build the connection and meaning internally and are left without the needed support.
Our foundations are not “properly set” to start building upon. We learn to override or cloud what we truly want from such early ages in extremely subtle ways. We start to create the patterns and lay the grooves for habits of masochistic tendencies and they can start to take shape from in the womb. So now flash forward to us as bigger people, when things just don’t feel right and we want to make some changes or shifts. We have to learn to recognize the patterns of self- abuse that we have accepted and/or cultivated and that more than likely feel very normal. If we were All raised with unconditional LOVE, abundance, connection to spirit, and appreciation for Self, consider how different your perspective of yourself and your world would be. If we take a look, a lot of the techniques of the “self-help” world have a lot to do with reclaiming the things/aspects we were born with that were stripped from us. Like what we truly want, reconnecting with our in born talents, not conforming to a cookie cutter existence, embracing our hearts and bodies and integrating them with our minds, reconnecting with nature, playing, feeling, appreciating and cultivating our imaginations. We are born designed with all of this and more. We are now on a mission to reclaim our birthright so that we may truly build upon our unique positions as human beings. We are in a process now to reweave them into our own, others and children’s experience to foster environments and ways that strengthen our connectivity and highest potential.
Goddess Mena Love: I am currently in a manifestation vortex of creating a baby with my partner. When I am blessed to carry our baby, I’ll be very interested in taking pre-natal yoga. Can you explain some of the benefits of pre-natal yoga?
Khara: The benefits of prenatal yoga are essentially the same as non-prenatal yoga. The major difference being the presence of another life that is being shaped by everything we do and don’t do and our energy around this. To me everything about yoga is beneficial to the pre and postnatal journey just as it is to our life journey. Our approach to our practice can highlight how we approach our life, our self, and others. What we practice during a (prenatal) yoga class can be applied at any time. Forming a deeper relationship with our breath, creating space to honor and care for self and others, honor and care for baby, moving and opening our bodies, meditating, relaxing, going beyond the perceived limits of our minds and bodies in the moment, and releasing fear and emotions, are some of the benefits that come from (prenatal) yoga. When applied our experience is more open and enriching during the birth process, as parents, as little and big people, and ultimately as the world.
Goddess Mena Love: I also would LOVE to teach pre-natal yoga. How has teaching prenatal yoga empowered you?
Khara: It is such a wonderful blessing and honor to share and hold space for life. Pregnant women are so beauty-full and to know that there is another life forming and receiving the benefits of their mother’s practice is amazing. Pregnant women are an awesome reminder of the cycle of life, the beauty of life, and the brilliant design of nature and our bodies. To have the opportunity to co-create a space where women can connect with their power, innate wisdom and trust in their bodies and babies is immensely empowering. It feels like activism and the planting of seeds that will bear fruit in the generations to come.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s your favorite song/movie? What kind of music are you listening to right now?
Khara: I’m not so good with favorites, as I tend to have a lot of difficulty picking just one! There is so much amazing music and so many amazing movies, same with books. The first movie that comes to mind is “Harold and Maude”. Currently, D’Angelo and the Vanguard’s “Black Messiah” is on rewind! I was recently listening to Hozier and a recording of mantras (does that count?) by a Tibetan Lama I had the privilege of meeting a couple months ago. I can go a long time appreciating “the sound of silence”, so thankfully most of the people in my life are extremely passionate about music!
Goddess Mena Love: What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned so far?
Khara: That we are more than all the identifications we could ever come up with and attach to. When we are able to release these attachments we become clearer. That no one or anything is to blame, not our self or any of our relations. We do not need to fix ourselves as much as shift our focus/perspective and embrace that we were and always will be divine perfection from our source. There is nothing we cannot heal, transform or create.
Goddess Mena Love: Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out on this path of awakening?
Khara: There is no such thing as “too late to start”. You have always been on this path/your path and you always will be; stopping and starting are illusory distractions to the experience of your personal journey. Embrace the space that cradles us all and give yourself the compassion you deserve to rediscover your Self; to hold/nurture the being that has carried so much unnecessary weight and burden. You are the only teacher you really have. Get to know your “lack mentality” so you can fill it up with universal abundance.
Goddess Mena Love: Finish this statement. My life is so cool because….
Khara: My life is so cool because I can finally say with all of my being that I am happy to be alive and ready to make the most of it! It’s especially cool because of all the divine beings that have walked before and shared wisdom and all the divine beings that walk with me now and share wisdom enabling me to see beyond my perceived limitations, without them who knows where I’d be! Change and growth are tremendously freeing gifts.
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