African Yoga

African YogaAfrican Yoga
By Oleg Cherne, 2008

African yoga is the art of transforming by working with your body work in various rhythms. This practice helps cultivate one’s movements and sensational fulfillment with the help of rhythm. Africans know since ancient times that understanding the link between rhythm and movement helps one achieve deep internal transformations. They believe that dance is key for shaping one’s power and one’s relation to the Ashé, the energy that fills the entire universe.

The basic tools for achieving development in African yoga are: the ability to listen, the ability to move, the ability to breathe and the ability to feel. The technique of African yoga is based upon the ability to comprehend rhythm by working with one’s body. The culture of the [Africans] is so intrinsically musical that Africans [also] perceive their bodies as musical instruments.

Why ‘yoga’?

The Sanskrit word ‘yoga’ has become so popular today that it serves as a cover term for many development trends representing absolutely diverse cultural traditions. Being a general term today and referring to the whole complex system of human development – physical, mental and energetical – the word ‘yoga’ is also used for a number of other trends that have become part of global culture.

A lot of people who are drawn by the mystery of the word-image yoga do not understand the actual goals of classic yoga. We should note here that the yoga grounded on the Sankh philosophical tradition interprets freedom as overcoming the world, the final separation of the spirit (Purusha) from matter (Prakrti), the cessation of rebirth.

Let’s be straightforward: yoga today is a certain image that invokes Man to strive for perfection. Very few actually know the meaning of the term ‘yoga’ and its path, which has in fact led to the rise of many speculations around it.

African yoga as universal knowledge

The term African yoga appeared relatively recently and was initially used by African-Americans in order to attract attention towards the African culture in the time when they created different schools to teach the West how to master rhythm, dance and movement (in the 70s and 80s). They tried to reveal to the world not only their musical and dance styles but something more, something hidden in the knowledge of different African cultures and grounded in the centuries-old views of African civilization about medicine, philosophy of life and the body.

As a practical trend, from which occult and ritual acts have been excluded, African yoga exists for about 20 years in spite of its centuries-old history. And as a system of knowledge it is still in the process of composition. Many African trends, including samba, Capoeira, etc., bear a shade of what we [now] call African yoga.

The first people who began studying and cultivating rhythm were, obviously, the Africans who created the very first musical instruments. It is likely that the tradition of Russian sundresses or skirts and Scottish kilts contains certain elements that come from Africa. [U]niversal values are the same everywhere. And trying to impose on culture a specific image only draws one further away from the understanding of this culture. Therefore, what is important here is not Africa, it’s us. If you want to learn your own language, start learning a foreign one. If you want to know your culture, study another.

African yoga is a syncretic name, naturally suitable for all trends of African culture, which offer a variety of systems for human development. However, we should here note that all African trends – which can be conceptualized as a single complex knowledge system – have today mixed with the European and Indian cultures, not only on these distant continents, but also in Africa itself, as a result of the boomerang principle.


Afrikan Yoga Asanas:


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