The Buddha Spotlight introduces you to Yogini, Carmen Carriker!
Goddess Mena Love: When did you fall in LOVE with yoga?
Carmen M. Carriker: I fell in LOVE with yoga when I apprenticed at Yoga Vida in 2012. I took classes during the summer. A friend referred me to the Union Square and Soho locations where I took free vinyasa flow classes in exchange for working at the studio. Prior to this I had taken yoga in college as part of my dance curriculum but I didn’t value it as much. I began a workout regime at home that consisted of 1 hour of yoga in the morning and the evening. My goal was to get over my fears of being upside down in handstands and forearm balances. I saw myself grow stronger and more confident. I loved how I began to feel at work. I felt more aligned and centered as a dancer and I had a sense of clarity and peace mentally. Unlike dance, I felt no need to look in the mirror. There was no judgement. I could feel the changes in me internally.
Goddess Mena Love: What style of yoga do you practice? Why?
Carmen: Kemetic yoga is what I practice because I connect with it spiritually. I incorporate Kemetic YogaSkills for rules of breathing and geometric progression in all classes I teach. My certifications require knowledge and use of Sanskrit, references to the Indian sages. Kemetic yoga references Egyptian gods and goddesses; and poses are those seen on the hieroglyphics. What better way to seek higher consciousness than to call upon your African ancestors. The 42 laws of Maat are what I live by. I find inspiration in the stories of Aset, Asar, and Heru. I study also the philosophy of kemetic life expressed by the Dogon people of West Africa by Neb Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig founder of the Earth Center, an organization that preserves Kemetic culture. I have studied Medu Neteru language and incorporate two chants in my daily practice as well as the Nia Yaa Nebthet’s Ra Sekhi (kemetic reiki) practice. I also do a fusion of yoga and dance or pilates before I perform.
Goddess Mena Love: Do you have days when you just don’t feel like practicing yoga? If so, what keeps you motivated to continue your practice?
Carmen: I always enjoy yoga. It’s a part of my lifestyle and I’m very disciplined. I have passages in my journal on Laws of Maat and Egyptian proverbs from the Book of the Dead that I reflect on daily. I have Kemetic chants recorded in my phone so I can meditate on the train. I practice deep breathing or alternate nostril breathing at work in the bathroom when the day is hectic and I need a moment of peace. Sometimes my practice is 10-15 min or four hours. Its all yoga/meditation. It usually helps me be more creative and my friends notice when I’ve been teaching because I’m always in the place of Zen. I share words of wisdom and inspiration at my job. I love it! Sharing is caring!
Goddess Mena Love: What was the turning point for you, to get you started on your existing spiritual routine?
Carmen: My turning point I would say happened after the Hurricane Sandy in NY. A hawk came to my window and it had a cardinal in its mouth. It was a sign. All this meditation brought a real life sign to my window.
Which one was I?
I did some soul searching. I discovered that my nana’s family were a part of the Cherokee Red Paint Clan. The animal or bird that represents them is the cardinal. Red has always been my power color. I understood! Don’t let anyone take your power. Be like the hawk, oversee and over stand and take what’s yours. Don’t be prayed upon. From them I felt connected to my spirituality. Yoga and meditation helped me cope with stress, conquer weakness, be more in tune with my emotions, and feel physically stronger. Dealing with life changing situations deepened my personal practice and I’m grateful that I found my calling in yoga.
Goddess Mena Love: What is the biggest life lesson you learned so far?
Carmen: The biggest lesson I have learned is non-judgement. I teach to the level that is in the room. I know that my personal practice strengthens me so that I can assist clients and students and help them reach a higher level of consciousness. I also learn from them. If your back is turned on your students in class you may not be focusing on them like you should.
Goddess Mena Love: Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out on this path of awakening?
Carmen: My advice to yogis is to begin a practice that speaks to your heart. Practice on your own and don’t get discouraged with yourself. The days you fall off balance, rest and reflect on your experience, and always return to the breath. Set small goals, then medium size, then big ones, and you will surprise yourself by how much you grow.
Goddess Mena Love: Finish this statement. Yoga gives me access to….
Carmen: Yoga gives me access to my psychic abilities. My dreams are colorful and vivid and I’m more intuitive to the feelings of others. Yoga gives me access to places I never dreamed I would travel to and amazing people I’m so happy to meet. Yoga gives me access to peace of mind which I need to reach Maat (balance) in the hectic world we live in.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s your favorite song/movie/book?
Carmen: My favorite jazz songs are “Afro Blue” , Midnight in Tunisia”, “Orange Moon” by Erykah Badu and “Light” by India Arie. My favorite book “Sacred Woman” by Queen Afua, God is a Brown Girl Too” by Cecilia B. Loving, Octavia Butler Parable of the Sower and “The Alchemist” by Paul Coelho. My favorite movie is “Carmen Jones”
Goddess Mena Love: What kind of music are you listening to right now?
Carmen: Meshell N’Degeocello “Comfort Woman” album. I listen to a mix of soul, jazz, house and rock
Goddess Mena Love: How important is it to change your diet while living a more spiritual life?
Carmen: You are what you eat and your body is your temple. With that being said be mindful of your eating habits, your self talk also plays a part in how you enjoy the food you eat. Bless those who prepare the food. If possible grow your own or purchase locally grown foods that are not processed. The more alive these foods are the more alive you feel. You are able to achieve higher consciousness and spirituality. When you are living on higher vibrations, healthy foods will lead you to a happy life. A vegan diet is the best choice for me. I love to have treats like cupcakes and cookies too. I also love tea. I have teas from all over the world. My friends travel and bring me herbs and spices back, which I LOVE. Eat what makes you happy and share with the less fortunate.
Goddess Mena Love: How greatly does your diet impact your spiritual life?
Carmen: My diet consists of lots of veggies, which make me feel energized. Not eating as much processed food helps me focus while meditating, praying or performing music or dance. When I don’t eat properly I feel unfocused and my mind, body and soul are not in harmony.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s your favorite healthy comfort food?
Carmen: My favorite healthy comfort food are avocados and mangoes
Goddess Mena Love: What is LOVE to you?
Carmen: LOVE is pure and unconditional. It is the most powerful emotion. God is LOVE! The purity in the hearts of children is LOVE. If we LOVE ourselves others can love us too. We teach others how to show us kindness, trust, love, honesty, and patience. 1Corithians 13:4-8 pretty much sums it up. LOVE is not self-seeking, not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. My friend at the Kemetic Yoga Retreat in Jamaica taught me the Prayer of Light that I often share with others when they need inspiration and a reminder of the presence of LOVE in their lives. I will share it with you. LOVE before me, LOVE behind me, LOVE at my left, LOVE at my right, LOVE above me, LOVE below me, LOVE unto me, LOVE in my surroundings, LOVE to all, LOVE to the Universe. It also repeats with the words peace and light which I learned later while reading Gurunam’s book “Lifting the Veil.”
Goddess Mena Love: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from teaching yoga?
Carmen: The biggest lesson I’ve learned from teaching yoga is nonjudgement. Learn to let go of all fears and surrender to the power of the breath. You are here to help others, listen to suggestions and incorporate them in the practice. “Be like Water,” adapt to all situations and enjoy the practice of yoga and live life to the fullest.
Goddess Mena Love: What advice would you give your younger self from everything you’ve learned thus far, on your spiritual journey?
Carmen: Always follow your heart. Take care of your mind, body and soul through fitness and holistic healing. Never give up on your dreams. You will be successful and achieve your goals.
Goddess Mena Love: Share any experience that stands out significantly about the role of The Law of Attraction and how miracles have manifested in your life?
Carmen: “We become what we think about. Energy flows where attention goes.” –Rhoda Byrne “The Secret.” I believe strongly in the power of the mind and manifesting your destiny. Visualizing myself successful in performance and teaching has led to my dreams coming true. I’m living and thriving in NYC which was my dream since the humble age of 8. I place objects that reflect what I want to occur in LOVE, relationships, and career on my alter and pray and meditate on them every night. I thank the ancestors for preparing a way for me and I thank God for blessing me.
Goddess Mena Love: Who or what inspires you?
Carmen: My mom is my inspiration. When someone LOVES you, encourages , and makes the ultimate sacrifice for you, that gives you inspiration to continue. In yoga practice and artistic expression nature helps me connect spiritually and inspires my creativity. I like to have plants and flowers in my apartments. I LOVE jazz and soul music and collect African art which I keep in my house as inspiration. It also keeps me connected to my roots.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s your favorite yoga pose? Why
Carmen: My favorite yoga pose is the lotus or sesh pose in kemetic yoga. It’s my favorite for meditation. I also like to go into headstand after a long day at work. It helps to center me and give me peace of mind.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s next for you, in yoga and life?
Carmen: The next step for me is continuing to build Crown Soul Yoga non-profit as well as complete new designs for my fashion line Crown Soul Creations Knitwear. I plan to make a trip to Ethiopia in 2015 to further my studies and share what I’ve learned with others. I’m hosting Kemetic Yoga- Find Your Inner Goddess Workshop February 7th-28th at Yoga Collective NYC on Saturdays. Four day Workshop participants receive a FREE class offered on Feb.14th with a special treat! I’m also teaching core yoga classes at Nesh Mind Body Soul in BedStuy Brooklyn Wed & Friday 7am and 8:30am. This year I also received a certification in prenatal pilates. I would like to further my studies and help women especially women of color stay healthy mind, body and soul at every stage of their pregnancy. However I can help others I will continue with the help of mentors, teachers, friends and family.
Goddess Mena Love: Finish this statement. My life is so cool…..
Carmen: My life is cool because I’m doing what I LOVE and making a difference
Carmen Carriker is a graduate of the Fordham Alvin Ailey BFA Program. As a dancer she performed with Balance Dance Theater, Urban Bush Women , Jazz Ain’t Dead, Brown Girls Burlesque, and as dance captain/actress in the jazzical “Scandalous People.” Choreographers she has worked with include Ronald K. Brown, Robert Battle, Mickey Davidson, Obediah Wright, and Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards. She was featured in television shows Dance Moms, 30 Rock, and reality show M.A.D.E NYC as a fashion designer/stylist. She was Brooklyn Bikini Under the Bridge designer featured on CW11 News for Crown Soul Creations Swimwear . She was also in short films” Lifted” by Randy Dottin,” When The Apple Falls”by M.A.D.E NYC and music video by Melissa Laveaux “The Post Man” directed by Terence Nance. She is featured in 2014 Cinematiq Magazine New Faces of Cinema Calendar and the upcoming issue. She currently dances with the cast of Sophisticated Ladies at the Harlem Cotton Club every Monday night and performs as a swing in the musical “On Kentucky Avenue” at the Triad Theater in matinee and evening shows monthly. As an instructor she has taught dance and fitness classes for 11 years. She has taught ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and pointe at Ballet Tech, Perfection Dance Center, and Uptown Dance Academy to name a few.
She received certifications in Pilates, Prenatal Pilates mat, Iyengar , Kemetic yoga, and CPR in 2012-2014. She is a member of Yoga Alliance and is a registered 200hr instructor .She has attended the Healing Sun Kemetic Yoga Teacher Training and Retreat with Yirser Ra Hotep in Jamaica, Afro Flow Yoga Training with Leslie Salmon Jones in NYC and Boston, and recently Prenatal Pilates Mat Certification Workshop with Brigitte Arle at Bent Pilates Studio. She is the founder of Crown Soul Yoga and host events and classes in the tri-state area. She is faculty at Pratt Institute Brooklyn where she teaches yoga and pilates mat as credit and non-credit courses. She has worked as an apprentice at Yoga Vida Studio in Manhattan. She has also taught candlelight pilates mat at Move With Grace Studio, Hatha Yoga at AbunDance Studio, One Love Kemetic Yoga Partner Workshops at Cumbe, Afro Fusion Yoga with DJ, Barre Flow, and Yogalates at Align Brooklyn. She is excited to have recently joined the team of instructors at Nesh Studio in BedStuy Brooklyn where she will teach Core Yoga and Vinyasa Flow. She has a great passion for teaching others and dedicates her life to helping others grow mind, body and soul.
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