Kemetic Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years as a way to refine the mind, body, and spirit of the African Spirituality Initiate.
The West has popularized (and commercialized) Ayurvedic style yoga, its postures, and its health benefits.
But when it came to the practice of postures, our ancestors in Kemet called the exercise Tjef Sema Paut Neteru which means “Movements to promote union with the gods and goddesses”. To them, yoga was far more than physical exercise – it was a path to Ascension.
Kemetic Yoga’s Stolen Legacy
There has been a debate in the Black Conscious community as to whether Kemetic Yoga is just a knock-off version of Indian Yoga.
While the world has accepted this claim to be true, students of Black Consciousness are encouraged to look deeper at the origins real yoga practice.
The word yoga itself comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” (pron. “yug”) meaning “to join”, “to unite” or “to subjugate”. Yoga is where we get the English word “yoke”.
The philosophy behind the word suggests it is the goal of the practitioner to join or unite their mind, body, and soul through mental and physical exercises that promote the free flow of spiritual energy.
While the word yoga originates in India, we know that the concepts and practice spread to the area from migrants out of Africa.
India’s Indus Civilization is one of three in the ‘Ancient East’ that - along with Mesopotamia and Ancient Kemet – was a cradle of Civilization in the Old World. It was also the most expansive in area and population. The founders of this Civilization were a group of people called the Dravidians.
The fossil evidence and genetic tests have shown that the Black Dravidian sub-race is the same as the Black East African sub-race which is to be found in the same latitude. Further archaeological and anthropological evidence suggests that around 70,000 years ago, East Africans set sail across the Red Sea, travelled along the coast of Arabia and Persia, and settled in India.
The Black Dravidians laid the foundation of Indian Culture and built a thriving empire that lasted until the invasion of the lighter skinned Aryan culture from the North. These invaders drove or wiped out the original people, assimilated the culture, and labelled their practices ‘Ayurveda’ – a Hindu system of medicine based on the idea of balance in bodily systems through diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing.
Waves of Aryan invaders from the North pushed the original inhabitants of the region further and further south.
Today, the first people of India, who have been pushed to the brink of extinction by racism, exploitation, and the brutality of India’s caste system cling to existence on strings of islands
Thus, in the same way that Black Kemet became Arab Egypt, so too did Black Indian culture become Aryan Ayurvedic Yoga.
Thanks to a new generation of scholars like Yirsir Ra Hotep and Dr. Muata Ashby, the stolen legacy that is Kemetic yoga is being restored.
What Is Kemetic Yoga?
Another misconception by the Western world is that yoga is exclusively a physical activity. Having pigeonholed the practice, ‘gurus’ have popped up at every local gym like mushrooms after a rainstorm selling their coaching sessions.
But Kemetic Yoga is so much more than impressive posturing. It is an entire way of life designed to introduce the initiate to the Path of the Hidden Light.
According to Dr. Muata Ashby in his book Maat Philosophy; “Yoga is the practice of mental, physical, and spiritual disciplines which lead to self-control and self-discovery by purifying the mind, body, and spirit, so as to discover the deeper spiritual essence which lies within every human being and object in the universe.”
He continues with the following
Therefore, Ancient Egyptian religious practice, especially in terms of the rituals and other practices of the Ancient Egyptian Temple system known as Shetaut Neter (the way of the hidden Supreme Being), spiritual disciplines were known in Ancient times as Smai Tawi – or “Egyptian Yoga” – should as well be considered as universal streams of self-knowledge philosophy which influenced and inspired the great religions and philosophers to this day.
In this sense, religion in its purest form, is also a Yoga system, as it seeks to reunite the soul with its true and original source, God. In broad terms, any spiritual movement or discipline that brings one closer to self knowledge is a Yogic movement.”
Yoga is not just physical exercise, but any process which helps one to achieve liberation or freedom from the bondage to human pain and spiritual ignorance.
So whenever you engage in any activity with the goal of promoting the discovery of your true Self, whether it be studying sacred scrolls, exercise, fasting, meditation, breath control, rituals, chanting, or prayer, you are practicing yoga!
New Initiates are rarely prepared to endure the challenges associated with elevation and Ascension towards on the path into the light. Thus, the initiate learns not only a state of physical being, but also how to engage themselves and the world around them using 5 forms of Kemetic Yoga.
First Form: Kemetic Yoga of Wisdom
The first task of the new Initiate is to learn to be a student worthy of the teachings. Oftentimes, new Initiates were given mysteries – or riddles – to decipher that held deeper lessons. This is why the schools of Kemet were called ‘mystery schools’. To solve these mysteries, the Initiate was taught to practice the three steps inscribed at the Temple of Aset:
Listening (meh mestchert) to the wisdom teachings on the nature of reality (creation) and the nature of the Self.
Reflecting (maui ) on those teachings and incorporating them into daily life.
Meditating (uaa) on the meaning of the teachings.
Aset was and is recognized as the divine principle of wisdom and her temple strongly emphasized and espoused the philosophy of wisdom teaching in order to achieve higher spiritual consciousness.
Second Form – Kemetic Yoga of Devotion
Kemetic Yoga of Devotion is the practice of letting go of the ego or the surrender of the self. Only after the Initiate was free of egotistical binds called ‘fetters’ could she live a life of dedication to the higher principles of universal order.
Ego is a condition of the lower self defined by separation from others, and as a result the need to protect itself from others. In the shadow of the ego, there’s a sense of entitlement, specialness, selfishness and reputation that need to be defended at all costs.
This egotistical drive creates conflict with the outside world and separation between the lower and higher self.
For example, have you ever felt like you were in conflict with yourself? Have you ever engaged in self-destructive behavior? Have you ever done something that you knew was in your best interest but did it anyway? These behaviors are rooted in the ego.
Thus, before the Initiate can escape the prison of the fourth dimension, he or she must devote themselves to the surrender of the self. Only then can the Initiate escape the illusion of limitations and separation imposed by the ego.
Third Form – Kemetic Yoga of Meditation
Once the Initate overstands the purposes of meditation – to decipher the mysteries of existence and to surrender the ego – Dr. Muata Ashby teaches us that formal meditation practice consisted of 4 basic elements: posture, sound, visualization, and rhythmic breathing.
Postures included both stationary and moving positions. These were part of the ritual aspect of the spiritual myth, which when practiced, served to harmonize the energies and promote the physical health of the body and direct the mind in a meditative capacity to discover and cultivate divine consciousness. The following page from Maat Philosophy illustrates two of the postures used in Kemetic yoga practice.
The Initiate is taught that vibration is the essence of all creation, and through sound these vibrations can be used to enter, alter, or create new realities.
Chanting was used to this effect. One such chant can be found on the walls of the tomb of Suten (King) Seti I and reads:
NUK HEKAU (I AM THE WORD ITSELF)
NUK RA AKHU (I AM RAS GLORIOUS SHINING SPIRIT)
NUK BA RA (I AM THE SOUL OF RA)
NUK HEKAU (I AM THE GOD WHO CREATES THROUGH SOUND)
As the Initiate becomes more disciplined, visualizations are introduced to create new states of consciousness. These visualizations can include light, objects, or divine beings.
The highest form of meditation in Kemetic Yoga is visualizing and meditating upon oneself as being one with Ra (God).
Just as there are many visualization techniques that Initiates are taught, so too are there many different rhythmic breathing techniques. The most basic breathing technique is as follows:
Very slowly inhale through your nose and gently push out your lower belly as if it’s filling up with the air that you’re inhaling. When your belly feels about 80% full, pause for about 3 seconds.
Then, even more slowly exhale through your nose and gently pull in your lower belly as if you’re now squeezing out the air. Inhalation should be roughly 3 seconds, the pause 3 seconds, and the longer exhalation about 4 seconds.
At the very end of your out-breath, mentally count, “One.”
Again, inhale, pause, exhale, and then at the end of your out-breath mentally count, “Two.”‘
Keep counting like this at the end of every exhalation until you reach “Ten.”
Then, starting counting backward — nine, eight, seven, six, etc. — until you reach “one” again. If your thoughts stray or you forget which number you’re on or hesitate, then you must start over again at “one.”
This meditation is designed to enhance focus and concentration for the initiate. At higher levels of practice, hyperventilation, incredibly slow breathing, and breathing in and out at varying ratios are all used.
Fourth Form – Tantric Yoga
Tantra is a set of spiritual practices that direct the universal energies into the practitioner, thereby leading to liberation.
By re-uniting the male and female principles within our own bodies and minds, we may reach the oneness that underlies our apparent manifestation as a man or woman.
Thus, the term Tantra means to create a bridge between the opposites and in doing so the opposites dissolve, leaving unitary and transcendental consciousness.
The union of the male and female principles may be affected by two individuals who worship God through God’s manifestation in each other or by an individual who seeks union with God through uniting with his or her male or female spiritual partner.
This is why sex is considered a sacred act, and why Initiates are instructed to remain celibate until and unless they come to overstand the nature of tantric energy.
The Initiate is taught that men and women have both female and male principles within themselves – a concept known as duality that is central to Kemetic science.
Fifth Form – Kemetic Yoga of Ari
The word ari is a Kemetic noun that describes the idea of right action. Similar to iwa pele in the Yoruba system, the Initiate is taught to learn ethics to remove gross impurities from the individual’s personality. She is further trained to cultivate higher virtues to purify the mind and intellect of more subtle impurities.
Through the yoga of ari – or the binding of the soul to virtue – the Initiate develops a strong will and influence on others which can be used to direct them towards what is positive and good.
In order to gain this form of spiritual power, it is necessary to root out every bit of ignorance and negativity in one’s entire being. This means there must be clear insight into the nature of one’s own spiritual innermost nature.
This also means that one’s actions, thoughts, and words must be pure. When the path of virtue is perfected, the heights of spiritual wisdom illuminate the heart.
Where To Learn More About Kemetic Yoga
There is no spiritual guide or enlightener who can do anything for you if you do not possess a true interest in walking the path. And that interest is not born out of ignorance, but of a basic knowledge of the principles and practice of Kemetic Yoga. Here are a few trusted sources to get you started on your path.
If you are called to the path of Kemetic Yoga, or would like to go deeper, it is your responsibility to learn before you take action. Start with the books and DVDs above and let your journey begin.