Kemetic Yoga Explained & 12 Ancient Poses For Ancestral Connection

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Most of the styles of yoga that are practiced nowadays are said to come from practices of South Asia. Yet, archeological evidence shows that an even older branch of yogic practices and philosophy emerged from the land of Egypt, predating Indian yoga.

In this article find:

  • Origins of Kemetic Yoga
  • Benefits of Kemetic Yoga
  • The 42 Laws of Maat
  • 12 Basic Kemetic Yoga Poses
  • 8 Kemetic & Afro Yoga Teachers to Follow
a man doing a kemetic yoga pose in front of the egyptian pyramids

Origins of Kemetic Yoga

Kemetic yoga in its modern form – also known as African yoga, Egyptian Yoga, or Smai Tawi – was created in the 1970’s by Dr. Asar Hapi and Elvrid Lawrence (Master Yirser Ra Hotep) through their research.

Smai Tawi translates to the joining of the lands of upper Kemet and lower Kemet, or union of the two lands.

It is represented by the gods Heru (or Horus) and Sebek (or Sobek) tying ropes around the Smai symbol, which depicts the human spine and lungs.

Kemet is the self-given name of the ancient African natives that inhabited the land now known as Egypt 10,000 ago.

According to the creators, Kemetic Yoga is:

a healing and regenerative Yoga system that is characterized by a series of geometrically progressive postures that creates alignment of the spinal column and corrects defects in the skeletal muscular system in order to relieve stress, increase blood circulation, nutrient and oxygen supply to vital body systems, and to allow internal life force energy and cerebral spinal fluid to flow more efficiently and abundantly throughout the entire body.”

The teaching of Smai Tawi in Kemet was derived from the meditations and insights of the temple sages.

In the 1970’s Dr. Hapi and his team studied, translated and interpreted hieroglyphic texts of Ancient Egypt and developed this philosophy and practice inspired by the ancestors that built one of the first and most prosperous civilizations.

a hieroglyph engraved in stone
Heiroglyph representing the infinite

Kemetic Philosophy: The 42 Laws of Maat

These 42 laws in kemetic spirituality have clear parallelisms with traditional Indian yogic philosophy, and they are a code of conduct for the practitioners.

The Yamas and the Niyamas, the two first limbs of the 8-limbed path of yoga that one must follow to reach enlightenment, are an example of that affinity.

The Goddess Maat symbolizes justice, balance, truth, and order, and her are her 42 laws:

1. I honor virtue
2. I benefit with gratitude
3. I am peaceful
4. I respect the property of others
5. I affirm that all life is sacred
6. I give offerings that are genuine
7. I live in truth
8. I regard all altars with respect
9. I speak with sincerity
10. I consume only my fair share
11. I offer words of good intent
12. I relate in peace
13. I honor animals with reverence
14. I can be trusted
15. I care for the earth
16. I keep my own council
17. I speak positively of others
18. I remain in balance with my emotions
19. I am trustful in my relationships
20. I hold purity in high esteem
21. I spread joy
22. I do the best I can
23. I communicate with compassion
24. I listen to opposing opinions
25. I create harmony
26. I invoke laughter
27. I am open to love in various forms
28. I am forgiving
29. I am kind
30. I act respectfully of others
31. I am accepting
32. I follow my inner guidance
33. I converse with awareness
34. I do good
35. I give blessings
36. I keep the waters pure
37. I speak with good intent
38. I praise the Goddess and the God
39. I am humble
40. I achieve with integrity
41. I advance through my own abilities
42. I embrace the All

Just like Indian Yoga, Kemetic yoga is not a religion but a system of disciplines designed to help you achieve the highest state of consciousness possible, leading to true awakening.

goddess maat depicted with her wings spread
Goddess Maat

The Benefits of Kemetic Yoga

Thanks to the increased visibility of black and brown yoga teachers, BIPOC folks are tapping into decolonized wellness practices more than ever.

With the increased popularity and commercialization of yogic practices in the West, often misrepresenting and appropriating certain aspects of these sacred principles, Kemetic Yoga intends to bring the focus back to the basic principles, feeling more accessible to traditionally marginalized communities.

Kemetic Yoga benefits us on many levels:

Physical Benefits: In order to maintain health, you must take care of your physical body, stretch it and tone it so it functions at its best.

Mental and Emotional Benefits: When your mind is clear and focused, your resilience increases, and so does your peace.

Energetic Benefits: Your body needs energy, and the right rituals and practices can help you utilize it for your maximum benefit.

Spiritual Benefits: When your body and psyche are in alignment and energized, you have the best shot at moving beyond the mundane toward connection to the ancestors and our divine nature.

hieroglyphics engraved in stone

12 Kemetic Yoga Poses And Practices

The paintings and wall carvings in temples and pyramids depicting a variety of postures and stretches performed by the pharaohs and Gods (Neteru) inspired the poses practiced in Kemetic Yoga.

Here are some of the most popular Kemetic Yoga poses for you to give a try:

#1: Kemetic Breath

In the Kemetic practice following the rule of four for the breath is recommended:

  1. Inhale and bring life force up the spine slowly as your breath rises, all the way up to your third eye.
  2. Pause: Hold the breath in for 1 to 2 seconds and allow the life force to saturate the blood and tissues.
  3. Exhale: move the energy through the arms into the hand and fingers, down the legs and into the feet.
  4. Before your next inhale, hold for 1 to 2 seconds.

Intend to incorporate this breath in your postures, breathing exercises and meditation.

#2: Mummy Pose (Savasana)

This posture encompasses the idea of spiritual resurrection and that we are all divine beings. Mummy is the state of joy peace and love, it is home.

a woman lying on a mat doing 'mummy' a kemetic yoga pose

#3: Nefertem | (Lotus Pose)

This is the posture to honor the ancient Egyptian god Nefertem; Ptah’s son, who is depicted in hieroglyphics as having a lotus on his head (symbolizing rebirth).

a woman sitting on a mat doing 'nefertem' a kemetic yoga pose

#4: Nun Pose | Cosmic Chaos

Nun is the collective consciousness, and it is a posture as well as a principle. It means creation and potential as well as the primordial state of constant change.

  • An image of a woman in nun one pose, a kemetic yoga pose
  • An image of a woman in nun two pose, a kemetic yoga pose

#5: Pose of Ausar | Alignment and Unity

a woman standing on a mat doing 'ausar' a kemetic yoga pose

#6: Teken Sequence

#7: Kemetic Sun Salutation

#8: Geb | Spinal twist

a woman sitting on a mat doing 'geb' a kemetic yoga pose

#9: Sobek | The Crocodile (pigeon pose)

a woman sitting on a mat doing 'sobek' a kemetic yoga pose

#10: Pose of Anpu

Anpu is the Neteru that weighs the heart of the deceased; kneeling represents letting go of the ego, and the hand resting on your heart symbolizes purity of thought and action.

#11: Pose of Selkhet

Similar to Tadasana, this posture is designed to facilitate the flow of the natural life force that exists within all of us.

a woman standing on a mat doing 'selkhet' a kemetic yoga pose

#12: Maat Ka Sequence

8 Kemetic & Afro-centric Yoga Teachers to Follow

There are many yoga teachers that have studied and developed their own Kemetic Yoga programs as well as other afro-centric practices and are willing and excited to share them with you.

Each one of these teachers has curated unique offerings to help BIPOC and other indigenous peoples reconnect to their roots and ancestral practices.

#1: Yirser Ra Hotep – Kemetic Yoga Skills

One of the most important researchers and teachers of Kemetic Yoga, Ra Hotep teaches in person and online Kemetic yoga trainings as well as retreats in Egypt.

#2: Krishna Kaur

One of Yogi Bhajan’s disciples, she is one of the most distinguished Kundalini teachers still active in the USA.

#3: Pablo Imani – Pablo Imani Method Afrikan Yoga

Based in the UK and also focused on training Kemetic yoga teachers, Pablo Imani brings a comprehensive approach to Egyptian yoga through his method PIMAY.

#4: Faith Hunter – Spiritually Fly

In her book, Spiritually Fly: Wisdom, Meditation, and Yoga to Elevate the Soul, amongst many other gems, Faith shares the similitudes of the Indian Chakra system with the Kemetic energetic system of karkars, once again providing more evidence of these alternative roots of yoga.

#5: Angie Franklin – Afro Yoga

A powerhouse to be reckoned with, Angie shares the Kemetic practice with her community as well as leads retreats, trainings and courses for BIPOC yoga teachers to learn to thrive and grow in the wellness industry.

#6: Sarah Wes

Join Sarah’s youtube channel and enjoy her Kemetic inspired yoga sequences while being transported to the dunes and the beautiful scenery of this ancient land.

#7: Jah9 – Yoga on Dub

A Reggae and Dub musician from Jamaica, Jah9 combines her jams with creative yoga flows.

#8: Isa Konga – Yoga Konga

Another multi-talented Kemetic Yoga teacher, Isa has a great presence online as well as an African-inspired yoga clothing brand.

Explore More Yoga Styles!

Kemetic yoga is one of many styles, and if you’d like to learn more about other ancestral as well as modern yogic practices to suit your life, check out Yogajala’s style guide.

Photo of author
Laia is an Afro-Catalan accessible and inclusive yoga & meditation teacher. She has trained in hatha, vinyasa, trauma-informed yoga, yin yoga, and restorative yoga and holds E-RYT 500 and YACEP accreditations with the Yoga Alliance. Additionally, she is a freelance writer and translator, publishing in Catalan, English, and Spanish. As a former professional athlete who lives with a chronic illness, Laia has gained valuable insights into the benefits of self-care and the importance of pausing and slowing down. She is dedicated to sharing accessible and sustainable practices of yoga and meditation to help people create a more harmonious life. Being a black and chronically ill individual, her mission is to empower non-normative yoga teachers to find their unique voices and develop tools to make wellness practices accessible to the communities they serve, thereby taking up space and creating a more inclusive and diverse yoga industry. Furthermore, as a writer and creative, she is passionate about supporting other creatives and innovators. She fosters a genuine community dedicated to finding balance while staying productive and inspired. Laia has developed unique techniques that intertwine yoga and meditation with writing, journaling, and other accessible methods to help each other stay creative and mindful.

1 thought on “Kemetic Yoga Explained & 12 Ancient Poses For Ancestral Connection”

  1. I’m currently studying to attain my yoga teachers certification and being pan African I search out everything black. When I came across your website I rejoiced & thanked the Ancestors. I wanted to say Asantè Sana. As we are the original beings I knew I was directed in the right direction. Hotep Sista


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