Pablo Imani – one of my favourite Egyptian Yoga teachers and the founder of Afrikan Yoga.
What keeps yoga alive for me is diving into the different cultures and styles of yoga.
I practiced yoga for over 10 years and never heard anything about African Yoga. Then in the 1970’s I went to visit a museum display on the Egyptian Kings particularly King Tut. As I gazed at the drawings and paintings the first yoga pose I saw was the plow.
That startled me into looking more intensely and I saw yoga poses in other artefacts too. The Wheel; The Lotus and an interesting Kneeling Twist I never saw anywhere before. To this date in all my research I have never saw that pose in another style.
As with Indian Yoga and Tibetan Yoga there are many different styles of Egyptian Yoga and some are religious based and some are not.
Most styles of Egyptian Yoga are based on concepts outlined in an ancient Egyptian text called The Book of Emerging into the Light (originally translated as The Egyptian Book of the Dead. The similarities of the lifestyle described in this ancient text to the lifestyle described by The Yoga Sutras is fascinating.
This book was often commissioned by wealthy families and they had some control over the contents so there are many different variations.
Very interestingly the Egyptian word for ‘Yoga’ ‘Smai Twa’ means union – similar to the Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’ which is considered to mean union.
According to Pablo Imani of Afrikan Yoga one of the most famous Egyptian Yoga teachers from Uganda Africa.
“This form of Egyptian Yoga, focuses on energy development and emotional cleansing of the physical and emotional body through the development of movement and postures.
Through the practice of a system of Sayunaats/Postures commonly called Asanas, its use of Hanu movements Raagus African Dance and Hudu African Tai chi aims to unite the body, mind and spirit for health and well-being. This discipline is considered a powerful tool to relieve the stresses of modern-day life which in turn can help promote total physical and spiritual well-being.
Afrikan Yoga is characterized by its attention to rhythmic movements and precise focus on breath. Menfesawe-Imani pioneered the use of affirmations, drums, stretch-bands, sticks, crystals and stones held in the hands and the elements Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether, which function as aids for combining body and psycho-spiritual awareness allowing beginners to experience movement and postures more easily and fully than might otherwise be possible without several years of practice.
An emphasis of co-ordinating movement, dance and awareness of muscles, internal organs and emotional effects of movements are emphasized in Afrikan Yoga. They are said to release emotional blockages, increase vitality, improve circulation, libido coordination and balance, ensuring a strong foundation for meditational poses.
Unlike the Western and Indian approaches where students are fixated to static movements of the body and suppressed emotions an Afrikan Yoga class is verbal and lively with precise instructions and corrections to movements and postures. A typical class encourages freedom of movement in the hips, torso, arms and legs.”
Egyptian Yoga Pose, Ka (Spirit)
- Begin with feet together, hands at your sides. Step forward on left foot.
- Lift arms to sides; bend elbows at right angles, palms forward.
- Inhale, then exhale while turning toward left. Keep feet in place, the head centered between your arms. Release in the left hip.
- Inhale, then exhale while turning head to the right. Inhale head back to center, exhale to the left, inhale to center.
- Lower arms. Bring feet back together.
- Step forward with right foot and repeat on the other side.
Model: Yirser Ra’
Dr. Musta Ashby is another early promoter of Egyptian Yoga in the US. He is teaching a ‘vinyasa’ from Egyptian Yoga – The Journey of Ra/The Sun Salutation.
A few of my favourite Egyptian Yoga clips on youtube.
Yoga, African Yoga, Afrikan Yoga, Ancient Egyptian Yoga, Smai Tawi, Kemet Yoga, Khamit Yoga
Kemetic Yoga for All