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Yoga: From Africa to India and Back Again, Exploring the Roots of a Global Practice



For years, yoga has been associated with India and the spiritual traditions of the East. However, the origins of this transformative practice can actually be traced back to Africa, specifically the ancient civilization of Kemet (Egypt). But why has this history been whitewashed and forgotten, and why do people of colour feel excluded from the yoga community?


The whitewashing of yoga and erasure of its African roots can be attributed to several factors. First, colonialism played a significant role in the spread of yoga to the West, which coincided with the dominant Eurocentric narrative that shaped the colonial discourse. The appropriation of yoga by the West resulted in a skewed perception of its origins and history, with Indian spirituality being prioritized over its African roots.


Second, the commercialization of yoga in recent years has further perpetuated the myth that yoga is a practice only for white, thin, able-bodied individuals, thus alienating people of colour from the yoga community. The promotion of yoga as a fitness trend rather than a spiritual practice has also contributed to this perception.


Kemetic Yoga is a spiritual practice that originated in ancient Egypt and emphasizes the flow of energy through the body to connect with one's higher intelligence and the divine. It is a slow-paced practice that prioritizes meditation and focuses on the chakras as energy centers. The physical poses of Kemetic Yoga are derived from ancient Egyptian art, depicting the movements of gods and goddesses.


Despite its African roots, this practice has been largely ignored by mainstream yoga culture, highlighting the ongoing issue of the erasure of people of colour from history and modern society. This exclusion is not new, given the history of oppression against people of African descent, which has resulted in the lack of recognition of their contributions to modern world culture. However, Kemetic Yoga is a valuable practice that offers a unique perspective and connection to African spirituality.


This exclusionary attitude towards yoga is harmful not only to people of colour but to the practice itself. Yoga is a universal practice that has the potential to unite individuals from all backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems. By reclaiming its African roots and recognizing the diversity of its practitioners, we can create a more inclusive and holistic yoga community.


Tarun Hari Das believes that the complementary harmony between Vedic and African spirituality can help us achieve this goal. By acknowledging the contributions of Africa to the development of yoga and embracing the diversity of its practitioners, we can create a more inclusive and welcoming yoga culture.


Tarun Hari Das teaches from a perspective that transcends cultural reference points because he recognizes that the spirit and soul are non-physical and cannot be defined by physical attributes.


This approach acknowledges the limitations of cultural and societal constructs and allows for a more holistic and inclusive understanding of spirituality.

Teaching from a non-cultural reference point enables Tarun to share insights and wisdom from various spiritual traditions, without being bound by cultural or societal biases. This approach can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of spiritual practices, as it recognizes that spirituality is not confined to one culture or tradition.


Moreover, teaching from a non-cultural reference point promotes inclusivity and diversity, as it recognizes that spiritual practices are accessible to everyone, regardless of their cultural background or upbringing. It creates a safe and welcoming space for individuals from all walks of life to explore and connect with their spirituality.


Tarun's approach can also benefit individuals on a personal level. It encourages them to look beyond cultural and societal norms and connect with their inner selves, leading to a deeper understanding of their own spirituality. It can also help individuals develop a greater appreciation and respect for other cultures and spiritual traditions.


In summary, teaching from a non-cultural reference point can provide a more comprehensive and inclusive understanding of spirituality, while also promoting personal growth and cultural appreciation. At Transcending Matters, we embrace this approach and strive to create a welcoming and diverse community that celebrates and honours all spiritual traditions.


"As we navigate our spiritual journeys, it's important to remember that our true essence is beyond any cultural or societal construct. By embracing a non-cultural reference point, we can connect with our spiritual truth and honour the diversity and richness of all spiritual traditions." - Tarun Hari Das.

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