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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Inhale and bring life force up the spine slowly as your breath rises, all the way up to your third eye.
- Pause: Hold the breath in for 1 to 2 seconds and allow the life force to saturate the blood and tissues.
- Exhale: move the energy through the arms into the hand and fingers, down the legs and into the feet.
- 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.
#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).
#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.
#5: Pose of Ausar | Alignment and Unity
#6: Teken Sequence
#7: Kemetic Sun Salutation
#8: Geb | Spinal twist
#9: Sobek | The Crocodile (pigeon pose)
#10: Pose of Anpu
#11: Pose of Selkhet
#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.