Fight stress with African yoga

The first Kemetic Yoga stu­dio has just opened in Africa, and of­fers an­cient Egyp­tian phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual en­light­en­ment. Danette Frederique pays it a visit

CityPress - - Voices -

The AfriCan Kemetic Yoga Stu­dio opened for fit­ness at the Nor­wood Cen­tre, Joburg, ear­lier this month, be­com­ing the first and only stu­dio on the con­ti­nent to of­fer a space for this an­cient Egyp­tian sys­tem of phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual en­light­en­ment.

“It’s been a dream of mine to open a stu­dio for a few years. I’ve been teach­ing Kemetic Yoga teach­ers; I needed a space where they could come and teach, and come and prac­tise,” owner Ur­sula Macheke van Graan told me when I went to try out a class.

The prac­tice in­fuses con­trolled deep breath­ing and med­i­ta­tion with geo­met­ric phys­i­cal move­ments in­tended to align the spine, re­lieve stress and in­crease blood flow through­out the body. Kemetic Yoga, I learn, was de­vel­oped into its con­tem­po­rary form by Dr Asar Hapi and Yirser Ra Hotep in the US about 40 years ago. Hav­ing sought in­struc­tion from Hotep, Van Graan is the first per­son au­tho­rised to train Kemetic Yoga teach­ers in Africa.

“The im­por­tance of hav­ing it on the con­ti­nent is that we need to take own­er­ship of our health as Africans,” she be­lieves. “We need to take own­er­ship of our her­itage that has been hid­den from us for cen­turies.”

Now equipped with a space to teach the prac­tice to other yo­gis, she hopes to break down stig­mas as­so­ci­ated with yoga and reach a wider com­mu­nity. The stu­dio’s name, AfriCan, is to spread the mes­sage that yoga is an all-in­clu­sive, in­ex­pen­sive prac­tice from which ev­ery­one can ben­e­fit.

Kemetic Yoga doesn’t rely on ex­treme body con­tor­tions, but is a se­ries of stretches and move­ments, com­bined with breath­ing ex­er­cises, within a med­i­ta­tive space. All you need is a mat and knowl­edge. “There’s no rea­son you can’t do yoga. We can. It doesn’t mat­ter which age you are, how flex­i­ble you are, whether you’re male or fe­male; it doesn’t mat­ter,” said Van Graan. “If you have the will and the drive to do the yoga, you can. It’s there for your life, your health, your well­be­ing.” Van Graan re­calls the sense of fa­mil­iar­ity she felt years ago when she first con­nected with Hotep, who re­cently vis­ited from Chicago to in­struct classes dur­ing the stu­dio’s grand-open­ing week. “I re­mem­ber as a child do­ing his­tory about Egypt, and hav­ing this feel­ing that I al­ready knew it. Some­how I knew it, so when I spoke to [Hotep], I felt like I knew it,” she said about try­ing Kemetic Yoga for the first time. “It’s not some­thing I feel like I have to try hard to ex­plain. You just know. It’s in our DNA.” To find out more, call 076 237 0127, or visit the AfriCan Kemetic Yoga Stu­dio page on Face­book. The stu­dio is open 6am to 8pm for all lev­els and ages. Fees are from R450 a month (five classes) to R840 (12 classes)

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

MAT MAT­TERS A class at the new AfriCan yoga stu­dio in Joburg

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