Afrocentric yoga that teaches that movements have purpose
Most people think that yoga comes from Asia. Kemetic yoga, however, is one of the original practices of yoga. It originates from ancient Egypt, the proper name being Kemet. What differentiates Kemetic yoga from other types is that it’s a series of geometric postures, almost like there’s math in every movement.
Humboldt State had a Kemetic yoga class taught by Dionna Fletcher as part of Black History Month. This was Fletcher’s first time directing a Kemetic yoga class after completing her training in Jamaica last month.
We sat in a circle as she directed us through each posture. All were welcome, and students trickled in and joined the circle. Kemetic yoga has a breathing pattern to implement purposeful breathing: inhale, pause, exhale, pause. Each of the movements were done three times, following the geometric theme of the activity. Many of the names of the poses were slightly different from what we’re used to hearing. For example, the normal sitting pose is called ‘sesh.’
“It’s a black practice that needs to be spread,” Fletcher said. “It offers something to the POC community that Asian or Indian yoga does not.”
Fletcher has been part of a series of fitness sessions going on around campus and town. The series was compiled by Chryste Johnson, interim coordinator for the African American Center of Excellence (AACE). Johnson named the series Soul Fitness as a way of representing people of color during Black History month, and intended to bring in new forms of movement that people haven’t heard of.
“It’s a black practice that needs to be spread. It offers something to the POC community that Asian or Indian yoga does not.”
It is a three-week compilation of different forms of movement. Johnson explained that there’s been hip-hop cardio, there will be a steppin’ class and it’s the same series that made Love Ya’ Self Queen.
HSU student DiOria Woods was one of the students who attended the series.
“I’m a dancer, I’ve never heard of this kind of yoga and I like to try new things,” Woods said. “I’m part of the culture center and I wanted to actually interact with these kinds of events.”
Though it was a small class, it was a relaxing thing to get into after the stress of the day. Fletcher made everyone feel welcomed and comfortable. Even at the intermediate level the people in the class felt comfortable to do the poses no matter how hard it seemed.
Nicole Lamperti was another student that joined in on the Kemetic yoga class.
“I’m in a world cultures class and was curious about this kind of yoga,”Lamperti said.
The lights were off, letting the natural light come in from the sun setting through the windows. This created a more relaxed feel to the class. In the background, Fletcher played music by people of color, supporting the idea of loving yourself and putting yourself first.
Kemetic yoga brings a new form of movement to a common type of activity. Yoga is done all over the world but can be done in different forms. Kemetic yoga reminds us to be purposeful in our movements and reminds us about the different places we come from.