Sometimes it's hard to keep up with the various types of yoga, especially as some go out of favor and others are created. For example, you can go with Bikram Choudhury's creation -- hot yoga -- which requires you to sweat like crazy in his self-described "torture chamber," as you assume very demanding yoga poses. Toward the other end of the spectrum, you might try the more gentle movements of kemetic yoga, a type of yoga that comes from ancient Egypt rather than India.
According to "Yoga Journal," the foundation of kemetic yoga traces to the region of Kemet in Africa, a territory now known as Egypt. This form of yoga is connected to Egyptian deities, who, it is claimed, assumed yoga postures in ancient Egyptian wall paintings. For example, disciples of kemetic yoga claim that King Tut is portrayed in yoga positions. The modern version of kemetic yoga is based on the 1970s research of Dr. Asar Hapi and Master Yirser Ra Hotep, who hails from Chicago.
The philosophy and practice of kemetic yoga is said to be based on systems of self-development, states the Kemetic Yoga Poses website. The breathing patterns that accompany kemetic postures are heavily emphasized. Kemetic movements are done slowly, compared to other forms of yoga. The idea is to ease yourself into the postures rather than force yourself into the postures. The goal is total rejuvenation of the mind, body and spirit.
The reason for slower movements in kemetic poses is to emphasize the virtues of patience and concentration. Instead of one movement into a pose, kemetic yoga features several continuous and flowing movements, with the focus on breath control and relaxation. As "Yoga Journal" describes it, postures in kemetic yoga are seen as an expression of your breathing. One posture unique to kemetic yoga is the Pose of Immortality, which is linked to a painting of King Tut sitting on a chair. You start by sitting on your knees, lifting your right knee and bringing your foot to the floor while placing your right elbow at your inner right thigh. Then you do a series of exhalations mixed with torso twists. The exercise is aimed at aligning your skeletal structure and increasing the flexibility and strength of your knees and ankles.
Many kemetic poses are similar to standard hatha yoga postures but with slight variations. For example, the hatha corpse pose is called the mummy pose in kemetic yoga, and the hands are crossed over the chest instead of out to the side. In both hatha and kemetic yoga, popular poses include the lotus position, cobra, which requires you to arch your upper body as you lie on the ground, and the bridge position, a lying-down backbend with bent knees and elevated hips.
Hotep, who is a a kemetic yoga founder as well as a licensed social worker, uses kemetic yoga to help troubled kids and drug and alcohol addicts in inner-cities. He teaches kemetic postures with the goal of enabling people to exercise control over their thoughts and behaviors.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.