Master Teacher Yirser Ra Hotep Unites Culture & Black Health Through Kemetic Yoga
Yirser Ra Hotep has been practicing yoga for 42 years. Although he’s now an internationally-known Kemetic yoga master, his lifestyle wasn’t always on the right path. In his early 20’s he was a frequent drinker and smoker, he ate unhealthy and wasn’t very active. A quick look at the men around him made Yirser take a second look at his life.
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He noticed that most of them were dying of heart disease and cancer from the same type of vices that kept him at odds. Brother Yirser decided to take action.
He became vegetarian and started a strict workout routine that consisted of 1000 sit-ups, 500 pushups and running 5 miles a day. After a year of this routine he met a brother who practiced yoga. According to Ra Hotep, he didn’t fit the stereotype of the “little skinny Indian man” he thought all yogis were. This brother, master yoga instructor Dr. Asar Ha-pi, was a 6’5 Black man who could do anything with his body.
Yirser’s first yoga wasn’t too bad. He could at least do a headstand unlike most beginners. From that day on he knew that yoga would be good for his health.
His journey to Kemetic yoga was a sort of divine intervention. A King Tut exhibit in Chicago confirmed for him that yoga wasn’t from India; it was actually from Kemet, or ancient Egypt. Yirser traveled to Egypt to develop the practice of Kemetic yoga and developed his own practice called the Yoga Skills Method.
BlackDoctor.org spoke with Yirser Ra Hotep recently to learn more about Kemetic yoga and its many benefits.
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BlackDoctor.org: What is Kemetic Yoga?
Yirser Ra Hotep: We look at Kemetic yoga as a way achieving a state of transcendence, but also as a way of connecting with your ancestors. Kemetic yoga is based on ancient African principles. We should try to maintain our connection to the ancestors. Our ancestors are the living sprits of those who lived before us, and the conscious of those people are still in existence. We use the practice to maintain that connection.
BlackDoctor.org: What is the Yoga Skills Method?
Yirser Ra Hotep: It’s a philosophy of practice, movements, postures, techniques, breathing and meditation. The Yoga Skills Method has a concept called “rule of four” breathing where you breathe in this rhythm: inhalation, pause, exhalation, pause. You’re moving your body geometrically and coordinating each movement with your breath. The goal is to use your intentions to move and circulate energy through the energy channels in your body. The outcomes of yoga skills are: body toning, stimulation [of] the organs and parasympathetic nervous system, and it returns your body to a homeostasis. It gives you mental skills such as concentration, focus, patience, helps control emotions and allows you to be more rational in your decision making.
BlackDoctor.org: Your business isn’t studio based. It focuses on teaching more. Tell us more .
Yirser Ra Hotep: My business is called Yoga Skills and then I have Yoga Skills: School of Kemetic Yoga. I train people to become instructors. I sell DVDs, CDs, instructional DVDs, meditation CDs, I do lectures and workshops. But most of the time I’m traveling. We do teacher training courses all over the country, internationally, Jamaica being one of those countries. I hold two teacher training courses in Jamaica – one in the summer and one in the winter. I train people in South Africa, London, Paris, various parts of the Caribbean and Brazil. I’m focused on building teachers.