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Yirser Ra Hotep

The grandmaster Yirser Ra Hotep. We talk all things Kemetic Yoga, the origins of Hatha yoga, where to learn Kemetic Yoga, the evidence of the practice of yoga asanas/postures in African countries, and how Kemetic Yoga come about in the United States?

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The grandmaster Yirser Ra Hotep. We talk all things Kemetic Yoga, the origins of Hatha yoga, where to learn Kemetic Yoga and much more…

Except from the Yoga Bodi Magazine…

There is evidence of the practice of yoga asanas/postures in African countries… How did Kemetic Yoga come about in the United States? 

When I met Dr. Hapi, we both were aware that ancient Egypt was the birth place of world civilization because of the works of Yosef Ben Jochonnan, Cheikh Anta Diop, John Henrique Clarke and others. We surmised that Yoga also had an African origin but did not have clear perception of the exact dynamics of it.

During my life I have been able to travel to many places in the world starting with a trip to Jamaica, the birthplace of my father at the age of 12 in 1966. This was a life-altering experience for a boy from the projects. I was exposed to aspects of reality that others from my community were not able to experience in terms of culture and nature. To fly in an airplane for the first time was a phenomenal experience. To see the ocean and dolphins as I looked down from 20,000 feet was truly awesome.

One of the motivations for doing our research to formulate a Kemetic approach to Yoga was due to seeing so many Black folks seek their spiritual foundation in India and Hindu religion. Even though I studied the Indian texts and knew them, I also studied those from Kemet and other parts of Africa and could see a difference. In Kemetic Yoga we see unique poses and postures that are not known in India. We also see that the cosmological foundation of Kemet is the concept of Ma’at which states the nature of reality is order, harmony, balance, reciprocity, justice and that all can be understood via the seven principles of Tehuti. Our entire cosmological, philosophical, and ethical guidelines could be obtained from our own ancestral source without having to assimilate in Indian and Hindu Aryan culture which is hostile to Black people.

So of course Kemetic Yoga is met with hostility by some Black people who cannot believe that Africa has ever produced anything. Some are not able to accept the reality of the caste system in India and the subjugation of dark-skinned Indians under their concepts of Varna (color) and Karma. So, we get resistance from those quarters. We also get resistance from the mainstream commercial Yoga community that comprises a multi-billion dollar industry. They see Kemetic Yoga as a threat to their monopoly over the narrative of Yoga’s origin and antiquity. So, for example except for a small article that appeared in the 1990s, we have been Blacklisted or whitewashed by Yoga Journal. In a major article that I was interviewed for that focused on the top Black Yogis in the world, I was edited out by the Yoga Journal editorial staff. In the 1990s when I attempted to tour the major Yoga studios of California, the bastion of Yoga in America, I was turned down with the excuse that Kemetic Yoga would “confuse” their students. Consequently, we have quietly built an underground movement that permeates the African community. We have been able to train and certify over 2000 instructors throughout the world, curate Soul Yoga Fest on 3 continents, sell many thousands of copies of our DVDs and CDs and be invited all over the world to speak and present workshops.

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