Chaturanga yoga from Egypt

By Jeffrey Bishku-Aykul
Assistant to the Editor

A workshop on ancient Egyptian-inspired yoga, entitled “Yoga of the Pharoahs: Candlelight Kemetic Yoga Class,” will be held on the evening of Friday, May 10, from 7:45 to 10 p.m. at Chaturanga Holistic Fitness, 1525 E. 55th St., Suite 302.

The free, one-time class on a practice called Kemetic Yoga, will be held in a candlelit setting and headed by Bronzeville resident Yirser Ra Hotep, a DePaul University adjunct professor and yoga trainer.

The origins of Kemetic Yoga are not easily researchable. Hotep said he helped develop it in Chicago with Asar Hapi, a chiropractor under whose tutelage he first began practicing yoga in the mid-1970s.

“There was nobody else talking about ancient Egyptian yoga before we did the primary research ourselves and developed this system,” he said.

Since then, the practice has been described in mainstream media, such as the magazine Yoga Journal and Livestrong.com.

Hotep says hieroglyphs and Egyptian temples contain images of yoga positions that “have an effect upon the health and well being of your body and of your mind. Just like all other yoga poses, they help to increase your flexibility, your strength, your balance.”

The practice of yoga can be found throughout the world according to Hotep, who said he has traveled to rural Ghana and held workshops in Jamaica.

“You have styles of yoga that people do in Africa, in India, in South America,” he said. “They may not use the word yoga, but they have some form meditation, they have some form of exercise, movement, posture that helps you to achieve the transcendent state of awareness. It’s that transcendent state that makes something yoga.”

Although Hotep says yoga is heavily commercialized, he does not talk about its practice as restricted to the studio setting. Back when he was a social worker armed with a degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, Hotep says, he would teach addicts and abused children about meditation and yoga.

While “a social worker and a counselor and a therapist, everything that I did was from a holistic perspective,” he said. “So yoga has always been part of my practice as a social worker and a therapist.”