HISTORY: Yoga is said to date back some 10,000 years after drawings were discovered in Egypt
THE INFLUENCE of African culture in the practice of yoga often goes unknown, or is not acknowledged at all. While its roots are understood to lie in ancient Indian culture, reports suggests that it dates back as far 10,000 years ago with drawings of the discipline depicted on temple walls in Egypt.
This practice is often referred to as Kemetic Yoga – referencing ancient Egypt also known as ‘Kemet’ – and communities around the world are embracing this spiritual and holistic discipline and challenging the perception of yoga being alienated from black communities.
One business working to inform and encourage black communities in London to embrace this is Melanin Yoga – a lifestyle brand which celebrates the origins of Kemetic yoga, which are steeped in African culture and encourages black people to embrace a trend which is often not exposed or promoted to them.
“One of the reasons my business partner and I started Melanin Yoga is because I think it’s become quite middle class, and a lot of our community are unaware of the role Africa has played in its origins,” says co- founder Louise Laurent.
“When I started looking at different Afro-Caribbean and African groups, I noticed a lot of the devices they were using were quite Eurocentric or Indian and coming from different kinds of philosophies. So Melanin Yoga as a brand just wants to incorporate our history and our culture back into that practice.
“The name came about through this idea of looking at melanin as a science. Even though it’s a skin colour, it’s also an active entity in itself,” she adds.
“It kind of serves as an antenna; it filters the sun and when you look at a range of products, melatonin is what is used be- cause people are intrigued to know how are skin works and how we process things.
“So from that holistic stand-point, we decided to combine that with the cultural aspects of yoga and Melanin Yoga was born.”