We all know yoga comes from India, but there are also similar systems we can find in ancient cultures worldwide.
One of them is Kemetic yoga, a style that combines Indian yoga roots with ancient Egyptian philosophy. Like most yoga styles, Kemetic yoga incorporates physical exercise, breathing techniques, and meditation.
This article will explain all you need to know about this unique regenerative style and how to practice it if it sparks your interest.
Kemetic yoga is a yoga type focused on regeneration and healing. It incorporates sequences of postures inspired by geometry and Egyptian hieroglyphs, which depict Egyptian gods and goddesses in different poses.
The main purpose of the style is to correct any imbalances, ailments, or obstructions in the musculoskeletal system. The practice also aims to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing the practitioners to heal themselves. In this sense, it is like Hatha and Restorative yoga, and like these styles, it also incorporates slow flow and postures that are accessible to beginners.
Additionally, Kemetic yoga focuses on enhancing the energy body, or the part of us responsible for the circulation of life force. The physical practice helps encourage the movement of energy in the body, allowing one to connect with their true self. For this reason, there is a strong focus on the chakras and meditation in each class.
Kemetic yoga teachers believe one can use what they learned in class to develop in other aspects of their lives. The final result of practice should be self-realization or manifesting our true purpose and potential.
Origins of Kemetic yoga
Some yoga researchers have found evidence that raises the question of whether yoga also has roots in Africa and India.
Although Kemetic and Indian yoga can be considered two different forms of practice for physical healing and spiritual growth, there are many similarities.
The name Kemetic comes from Kemet, an ancient name for Egypt which was used during the era of pyramid construction and the leadership of pharaohs. The images depicting positions like yoga asanas from this period are considered precursors to the yoga practice we are familiar with today.
Kemetic people are also considered to have a huge impact on the development of many scientific fields, including medicine, architecture, and mathematics. Therefore, it is not surprising they developed their own version of yoga, combining physical exercises and spiritual methods to help one reach their highest potential.
Although Kemetic yoga is an ancient practice, several researchers, particularly Sehu Khepera Ankh, St. Clair Drake, and Yirser Ra Hotep, standardized the yoga style and made it more widely known during the 20th century.
Yirser Ra Hotep has taught Kemetic yoga for over 30 years and continues to teach and educate new instructors in the United States. His teachings can also be found in the most renowned publications online, and he also leads virtual training for those who are not able to visit his studio. His research is believed to be crucial to understanding the relationship between ancient Egyptian heritage and yoga.
He systematized Kemetic yoga, through which he not only expanded yoga culture but offered African Americans a way to reconnect to their roots and all other practitioners to expand their understanding of yoga and celebrate the diversity of the practice.
Benefits of Kemetic yoga may include:
- Reduced stress
- Increased circulation and oxygen supply to the vital organs
- Improving the energy flow in the body
- Aligns the spine and helps correct problems in the musculoskeletal system
- Improved strength and flexibility
- Aids in mindfulness and meditation
- Helps those looking to grow spiritually and expand their consciousness
Kemetic yoga combines common poses we can find in almost all types of physical yoga practice and some unique asanas inspired by ancient Egyptian illustrations.
Unique poses that you’ll likely only see in a Kemetic yoga class mimic the paintings of Egyptian gods and goddesses and are named accordingly. They include the Pose of Immortality, the Mummy pose, the Teken pose, and the Pose of Ausar.
Kemetic yoga is a unique type of yoga, and it won’t be easy to practice the first time without a teacher to guide you. If you are in the US, it is possible you will find an instructor nearby, as Yirser Ra Hotep educates new teachers every year.
Regardless of where you are, you can begin by using paid online resources or learning for free on video sites like YouTube (we share some of the best videos to start in the next section).
If you wonder whether you can begin practicing Kemetic yoga as a complete beginner, the answer is – without a doubt.
Kemetic yoga sessions begin with breathing exercises and continue with a range of poses done at a slow pace. They are not too difficult and don’t require a high level of flexibility or strength. Instead, the focus is to relieve tension in the body, align the spine and stimulate the internal organs.
Before you start your first Kemetic yoga practice, it might be helpful to know the foundations upon which each class is built upon. These are:
- Rule of Four Breathing – a breathing style used during the class, which incorporates a hold of breath after each inhale and exhale. Kemetic teachers believe this type of breathing aligns with the rhythm in which the energy moves in the body.
- Geometric Progression – the sequence is built to progress in a geometric, pyramidal manner, and each shape should be precise, meaning a big emphasis is placed on correct form in poses.
- Tongue Connection – during the practice of yoga poses, you will be instructed to place the tongue at one of the three energy points inside the mouth. It is believed this practice will give you a more powerful experience and help improve your focus.
Kemetic yoga focuses on rejuvenating and healing the body, rather than only developing muscles and flexibility. That means it is more important to control your breath and ease yourself into each pose rather than forcing anything. For this reason, there is a correct order used to come in and out of the pose, which is in tune with your anatomy. With time, this way of practice can help improve your posture and correct any imbalances in the body.
Check out these follow-along videos if you can’t make it to a Kemetic Yoga studio or want to try it out at home.
Self-Love Kemetic (Egyptian) Yoga for beginners | Resting and Rising Ritual
Kemetic Yoga for Beginners | Live Without Fear
Smooth & Restorative | 20 Minute Kemetic Yoga Flow
Kemetic yoga is primarily a regenerative practice. The primary focus is activating the parasympathetic system to help students heal their own bodies and minds. The physical postures of Kemetic yoga help to correct alignment in the spine and correct any obstructions or imbalances in the body.
Additionally, this yoga style focuses on the movement of the vital energy through the body, which may help one connect with their true self and the divine.
Researchers believe Kemetic practice predates yoga, which originated in the Indus Valley around 3300BCE. It is estimated Egyptians had their own system that included stretching and meditation more than 10,000 years ago. Like Indian yoga, Kemetic yoga focused on using the breath to open the energy channels within the body and reach enlightenment. The modern Kemetic yoga practice you see in studios today was developed in the 20th century.
Some research suggests yoga has roots in Egypt. Their main argument is ancient illustrations of similar physical postures depicted on temple walls, which are more than 10,000 years old. Although it is certain some type of physical and spiritual practice akin to yoga did exist in Egypt at the time, it is not proven it is actually related to Indian yoga. It is difficult to trace a certain historical link between the two, and it is likely the two practices are only similar but do not have the same origin.
Important: Check with your doctor before trying Kemetic Yoga for the first time if you have any type of injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.