Calm tunes play in the background as the warm, bright sun beams through large windows. Peaceful vibes are set while people roll their yoga mats in preparation for Kemetic yoga.
Abram Jr. Ross, also known as Bamidele Menchu Hotep, has been teaching Kemetic yoga — a yoga practice that recognizes African origins from ancient Egypt — since 2021 in Humboldt.
“Kemetic yoga was developed with the intention of basically working through ancestral trauma in people of African descent,” Ross said. “We recognize that our trauma is on all levels. It’s physical. It’s mental. It’s emotional and it’s spiritual because we’ve been stripped of all of our spiritual culture and our connection with our ancestors.”
The word Kemet in Kemetic is the original name of what many now know as Egypt and it means the Black nation or the Black land, according to Ross, a certified instructor.
“There is something empowering about going through the poses and being like oh my ancient African ancestors use to go into this posture,” Ross said. “There is a lot of healing that comes from that realization and the application of that knowledge.”
Kemetic yoga goes at a slower pace than other styles of yoga. The poses and postures are the main thing that makes this style different, since it’s derived from Kemetic images. According to Yogajala, in the 1970’s Dr. Asar Hapi and Elvrid Lawrence (Master Yirser Ra Hotep) and their research team studied, translated and interpreted hieroglyphic texts of Ancient Egypt and developed the philosophy and practice.
Ross, 28, who is originally from San Jose, moved to Humboldt County four years ago unexpectedly during a time when he and his twin brother, Anthony Ross were houseless. On the drive to Washington, their car broke down in Arcata and ultimately they made Humboldt their home. They both practice Kemetic yoga.
“This is definitely one of the most rewarding things, teaching people how to regulate themselves and how to get into that flow state, into that meditative state,” said Anthony, a certified breathe work instructor. “It’s such an invaluable thing we can’t really put a number on it. We’ve had so many experiences where people have had these massive life breakthroughs and have been like this is the most relaxed I’ve felt.”
Ross began teaching at the Arcata Community Forest in 2021 after getting certified online. Local community members felt intrigued by doing yoga outside among the Redwood trees. Currently, Ross teaches at the Crystalline Collective in McKinleyville and at events. He also stays busy teaching groups and one-on-one classes. He is certified in a variety of yoga practices, such as Kemetic, Yin, Nidra and Restorative yoga
“The nice thing about Kemetic yoga is that it’s much slower also, you are doing a lot with your vagus nerve and I was really interested in re-regulating my nervous systems,” said Adrienne Crew, a regular student of Ross.
Crew lived in Fortuna while she attended sessions and continues to do so from her new place in Los Angeles via Zoom. She took the yoga class to help with her insomnia. “I definitely felt better going to sleep. I felt I had a deeper sleep. It was easier to go to sleep after I had a Kemetic yoga session with AJ,” said Crew.
Mackay Gibbs, another regular student of Ross, gained a transformative life perspective after experiencing a Kemetic yoga session.
“Towards the end of 2021 I had a realization and I ended up quitting my job and going back to school,” Gibbs said. “I think getting to that place and realizing my work was not aligned with my values that came out in conjunction with doing yoga.”
In the future, Ross wants to own a studio. “We can be able to heal and work through our stuff together and have exclusive spaces and have spaces that are open to the whole community,” he said. To keep up with Ross go to @bamidele_555 on Instagram for further updates and information.
Correction: Updated name from Abraham to Abram.