Egyptian yoga is a style of yoga that is quickly becoming more recognized in the Western world. Although yoga is most commonly thought to have originated in India, there is evidence that points to its historical use in ancient Egypt as well. According to Muata Ashby, a leading expert on Egyptian -- or "Kemetic" -- yoga, it is reflected in the hieroglyphs and artwork that grace the temples and tombs of the region.
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 Poses
We perform many of the movements and posture or asanas that are found in mainstream Hatha Yoga because many are seen in the record of ancient Egypt and are also represented among the practices of traditional African societies. Some of the postures and movements that are uniquely ancient Egyptian are:
The Pose of Immortality
The Pose of Auset/Maat
The Pose of Min/Sekhmet
The Teken Pose/Teken Sequence
The Sesh Poses
The Pose of Anpu (Peaceful Warrior Pose)
The Maat Ka Sequence
The Pose of Selkhet
The Pose of Ausar
The Pose of Geb
Egyptian postures mainly focused on lengthening the spine to correct imbalances in the body as well as postures designed to cultivate focus. Meditation and chanting were also practiced in Egyptian yoga to develop deeper concentration.
Developing deep concentration is at the heart of the philosophy of Egyptian yoga. According to the Kemetic Yoga Association, this philosophy is called "Smai Tawi," or union of two lands. The two lands refer to two states of being: your individual consciousness and the universal consciousness. The word yoga itself is derived from the Sanskrit language of India and means "to yoke" or "to bind." Both terms illustrate what is at the heart of each practice -- a uniting of the individual spirit with the universal divine.
Physical Benefits and Spiritual Enlightenment
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, yoga can address specific health issues such as back pain, anxiety, arthritis, arthritis and neck pain. This physical branch of yoga is called Hatha. Although it is a Sanskrit term, the influence of ancient Egypt is intrinsic to yoga, where the goddess Hathor wore the sun and moon on her crown. For example, the Lifting the Sky posture is a key pose in Egyptian yoga, according to an article titled: "Egyptian Yoga: A Millenary Practice for Modern Man." The posture, which literally looks like the practitioner is holding up the sky, symbolizes the union of sun and moon illustrating the duality of mankind and the unification of the two extremes of a person's inner being.
“By living a life based on wisdom and truth, one can discover the divinity of the soul, its union to the universe, the supreme peace and contentment which comes from satisfying the inner drive for self discovery.”
― Muata Ashby, Ancient Egyptian Proverbs