This article was first published on Catch A Fire, an online magazine that covers all that’s new and essential in black arts and entertainment in London.
The first time I heard of Afrikan Yoga was more than 3 years go. I came across a short article on yoga guru Pablo Imani and made a mental note of researching the subject. Fast forward to 2011 when I learn that Imani is coming to Europe – from Uganda where he currently resides – to deliver classes. I jumped at the occasion to interview him and learn more about this new discipline.
Catch a Vibe: What inspired you to start Afrikan Yoga?
Pablo Imani: I have lived several lives in one life time. From my youth I was into art and dance, I even played music and was a kit drummer, a band member of a much older group when I was 17 touring local pubs. I played saxophone too. Later I got into photography and that took me completely for 18 years, my music interests morphed into being a DJ. The yoga practice came through various streams. One is I was introduced to it because my brother’s girlfriend is a hatha yoga teacher and saw that I was supple, then the other is through martial arts where the brothers I trained with were carrying injuries and I wanted to solve this problem by studying healing arts, the other is through my own health issues, particularly a bad back.
Can you explain what Afrikan yoga is? From what I understand, it is a bit more dynamic than other types of yoga?
Pablo Imani: Afrikan yoga is really holistic, this is why it appears to be dynamic. There is a little bit more for the rapid mind . It is calming too. In a nutshell Afrikan yoga is African technology and moves beyond the physical into psycho spiritual.
CAV: African-ness is something that seems to be quite important to you since you have made it part of what you do. How do your non-African yoga students approach it and make it their own?
Pablo Imani: I feel that what attracts students to Afrikan yoga is that they do have to dig real deep and find the rhythm, the flow and freedom that makes them claim Afrikan Yoga. In my classes they are instructed to free their hips, they are instructed to release. The approach to the practice allows all people to engage in natures principles. The feedback I often get from non- Africans is ‘I like your use of the elements, we do not find this in other yoga practices’.
CAV: You are coming to Europe to deliver classes and workshops. Is it going to be your first time teaching in Europe since you founded Afrikan yoga?
Pablo Imani: No I have been teaching in London since 2003 and could say I have taught over a thousand people. In 2008 I was teaching in Paris and as a result there are more people engaged in Afrikan Yoga there . I am excited about this tour as now there is interest in Germany, Holland and Switzerland, I have had requests from Portugal too. Afrikan Yoga is gradually growing and the commitment is paying off with more people being aware that Africa has its own healing systems.