HYuj Matters - Many Branches To One Tree Pose

When I tell people I am a yogi and that’s how I pray daily I get responses like, “o etsa ntho tsa maIndian” or they touch on how deep into eastern spirituality I am or how their weight/discipline/love of meat would be a problem for them to try it out or I get the classic touching-index-finger-to-thumb-closing-eyes-chanting-AUM response. I love these responses especially coming from Black people. Other responses from people who are interested in the workings of the spirit touch on how it’s a practice of balance, one that has helped them with emotional intelligence, grounding, shaping their bodies and helped them gain better awareness not only of their body but also tune them into the workings their mind and spirit.

In my curious journeys I have studied and tried different kinds of yoga and even pleasantly surprised to find Kemetic yoga whose origins are in Egypt. There are different types of yoga that are tailor made for different interests and different body/mind types. I did a yoga training course and the first thing I unlearned was that one is only doing yoga when you are folded into difficult Asanas (yoga stances) but simply sitting, bringing attention to your breathing and syncing your mind with body through breath is you practising yoga.

The type of yoga that held my attention was the type that sculpts my body while also helping with my breathing. Breathing and larger lung capacity is pivotal in my line of work where voice control during poetry performances can make a difference between a good and bad performance. I found Hatha yoga best suited for my needs. It deals more with the physical aspects of the practice. ‘Ha’ means “Sun” and “Tha” means moon. This form of yoga deals with balance and holding the postures for longer enables one to rectify muscle imbalances, release tension, toxins and trauma stored in the body. Hatha yoga is actually an umbrella for different kinds of yoga namely Iyengar, Bikram, power yoga, Vinyasa etc…which mostly deals with toning along with breath control and aligning the endocrine even digestive system.

There are other types of yoga that deal more with energy, breath control, movement and chanting mantras. When one talks of “energy”, chanting or coiled “serpents” people mostly tilt their heads thinking of the devil or magic more specifically witchcraft. With some explaining and using relatable references you can clarify the magic in everyday life they overlook and yet use. Kundalini yoga yokes energy centres around the body and traditional healers use these energy centres for healing and accessing different layers of awareness. Umbilini energy meditation is a form of yoga where you rouse/move coiled energy from the bottom of our spine up seven main energy centres located along the spine to the top of your skull. A person can balance everything from their will power, compassion, truthful self-expression, extra sensory perception to accessing universal truths with this meditation. It is used for healing and divination practices by traditional healers.

For me yoga has many layers and though it appears to be a trendy practice of contorted bodies, thick green smoothies and yoga mats it has far deeper reaches into the human experience. After years of practise not only has my health greatly improved but my knowledge of African people’s abilities to heal also deepened. I acquired a sense of belonging and confidence to have mphepho smoke filling a room accompanied by red, green, blue candles burning while working through yoga postures. I learned very early on that though worded differently the spirit ultimately knows one form of core awareness and energy regardless of where one sources the jargon that leads you back to your stillness.