Smai Tawi – Yoga – Meditation

by Thulasizwe Somdyala & Ian Mangenga

If somebody asks you what is the spirit and you do not know what it is, you cannot break it down. If you ask an Afrikan, what is air? He will tell you air is air. If you ask a European, what is air? He will tell you it is so much percentage carbon dioxide, so much percentage nitrogen… and he gives you a numerical equation of what air is. And you like, “Wow. This man studied air.” Ask an Afrikan, what water is? And he’ll tell you water is water. Ask a European what water is and he will break it down… Then you ask the European, what is spirit? And he will tell you spirit is spirit… – Ra Un Nefer Amen

Pivotal knowledge we inherit from the ones before us is knowledge of self. Self beyond its physical manifestation but understanding the essence of who we are. How we relate and fit into our reality and how to evolve internally to create the ideal reality we wish to be.

Yoga started in Kemet more than 10 000 years ago. A stretch of land located along the Nile valley from Egypt down to Uganda, including present day Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. According to Cheikh Anta Diop in The African Origin of Civilisation, these ancient Afrikans migrated to India and became what are now known as the Dravidians. They passed on teachings and spiritual practices that later evolved into Hindu beliefs and Yoga practices. Trade long existed between Afrikans and Indians. Ethiopia was known as Kush and India as “Indus Kush”. This article will illustrate how stress can be alleviated through spiritual cultivation to enable a fuller life.


Smai Tawi

Yoga in English means to yoke or to bind. One then wonders, to yoke or to bind what? Our ancestors discovered that each human being has an individual consciousness and individual mind upon which they are perceiving the world. No two people think in exactly the same manner, no two people have identical ideas on things; which is the expression of individual reality. However, there is a universal consciousness that is beyond the scope of the normal realm of consciousness or the individual reality of people. Therefore, the practice of Yoga is a personality integration method that allows human beings to bind their individual reality with the universal consciousness.

The universal consciousness is stable, unchanging and unmoving. Therefore, it is the Absolute reality, while human beings are existing in temporary phenomenon. It is believed when the Yoga process is accomplished, one can say that they have experienced the way things really are or has experienced reality; universal consciousness. Individual reality that is experienced is seen as only a small reflection of our true nature and the practice of Yoga is how to achieve the knowledge of one’s abiding and immortal aspect.

In Kemetic teachings this process of Yoga is called Smai Tawi, which means Union of the Two Lands. This is not to be confused with physical land masses, but is an explanation of the higher and lower nature that exists within the human entity. The philosophy of Yoga, as espoused by the ancient Afrikans, incorporated four words whose exact meanings are equal to the Indian word Yoga; which means spiritual union. The four Medu Neter (hieroglyphic) symbols that mean Yoga in Kemetic philosophy are Nefer, Sema, Ankh and Hetep.


Smai Tawi is expressed in the artwork and spiritual writings found in the ancient tombs and temples. On wall paintings and sculptures we see figures in positions that we now know to be Yoga postures. In the ancient texts we read about the principles and techniques of physical and spiritual perfection that the Kemetic people aspired to. The young were educated in a system of higher knowledge called the ‘Mystery System’ by Egyptologists. They had to acquire a high level of competency in Yoga before they were considered mentally and spiritually prepared to master the rigours of mathematics, engineering, medicine, astronomy, astrology, architecture, literature, religion, metaphysics, ethics and philosophy.



Managing stress is eliminating stress once it has done the damage. What we need to do for optimum health is to be free from it. The medical definition of stress is:

“…an organism’s total response to environmental demands or pressures.”

In humans, it results from interactions between people and their environment that are perceived as straining or exceeding their adaptive capacities and threatening their well-being. Risk factors for stress-related illness are a mix of personal, interpersonal and social; including lack or loss of control over one’s physical environment, or lack or loss of social support networks.

Black communities being at the receiving end of a failed reconciliation process; reconciliation with the world and Black culture. We see the long-standing effects of the historic and generational trauma caused by various crimes of displacement. Most people will even go as far as labelling our communities circuses, but none of them will ever admit to the fallacy of the reconciliation process. The skeletons that cloud our closets that we cannot even wear who we are. 

Just as we are expected to ‘get over’ apartheid. We are expected to deal with the traumas of collapsed family structures. Angry relatives that have since been neglected by their comrades since their return from exile. Who have now turned to alcohol fill the void of the empty promised land. Some have the casual routine of abusing those around them as a coping mechanism. The unspoken and irrevocable heartache that has caused many silent dinners because families are still looking for their daughters and sons. The obvious shock of learning what it means to be Black and the heavy weight that brings over ones life. These are just some of the horrors that continue to haunt the Black community. Yet you wonder why mental health is never spoken of in such an environment that is so welcoming of it. Paradoxically, it seems the “stronger” we become, the more neglected and exploitive the outcome.

Health Benefits of Smai Tawi

Smai Tawi is one of the oldest holistic healing systems in use today. It offers multiple health benefits, yet the serious practitioner sees these benefits as the side effects of yoga, because Yoga is primarily a spiritual practice. Smai Tawi was seen as a way to connect deeply with the divine forces that flow through and around you.

There are many wide-ranging techniques that are excellent for reducing stress, as deep relaxation is an important aspect of Yoga. It also removes the build up of chemical wastes in the body that would otherwise cause disease.

Meditation and gentle exercise are a part of yoga that help to realign body and mind. But this is not where yoga ends; it need not be a soft option. Yoga can give you a thorough workout that will leave you feeling revitalised. It can stretch and strengthen all your muscles helping your body to maximise its potential. Yoga calms and balances the nervous system. High blood pressure, heart problems, aching bones and stress related ailments can all be improved through the healing art of Smai Tawi.

With regular practice some benefits can be obtained from all Yoga paths:

  • Reduced stress
  • Personal path of discovery
  • Awareness of body & mind connection
  • Increased strength
  • Increased suppleness
  • Increased stamina
  • Increased energy
  • Improved proprioception – The body’s ability to respond when it is off balance
  • Enhancement of balance, posture, agility, and grace
  • Cleansing and conditioning of internal systems
  • Enhancement of bodily processes – digestion
  • Improved breathing which leads to clarity, stillness of the mind, and concentration
  • Assistance in management of recovery from cancer, HIV, arthritis and degenerative diseases
  • Alleviation or elimination of specific physical symptoms, PMS, headaches
  • Reduced anxiety, emotional tension and mood swings
  • Eliminates criminal & bad behaviour
  • And many more.  Do your research and see for yourself.

Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in the United States replaced detention with meditation. Click here to follow the results.

“In the August 2016 issue of Oprah Magazine, Holistic Life Foundation co-founder Andres Gonzalez said: “We’ve had parents tell us, ‘I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, “Hey, Mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe.”‘”

Breathe Out

Many people believe that meditation is difficult and it must take a great deal of effort and time to learn to do well. In fact, most people do experience a certain amount of difficulty and failure in their efforts to meditate. This is due to the common misunderstanding that has been promoted regarding concentration.

“I’ve tried to meditate, but i just find it difficult to concentrate, to keep my mind still, …”

is the common complaint. The real secret is that concentration does not come about from the will to keep the mind still, which is extremely difficult and just about impossible for most people. It is the natural, effortless, automatic response of breathing according to certain patterns. This is the greatest secret of Yoga, the science of Pranayama (breath control).

Control the breath and you will control not only the mind, but the subconscious. Think of the fact that your breathing is the only function that can be performed voluntarily or involuntarily. It is the bridge between the conscious and the unconscious. You may have noticed how your breathing automatically slows down or even stops when you are thinking deeply or aiming the ball for the net. Your subconscious knows to slow down your breathing when you want to concentrate – but only up to a point.

Another fact of nature which argues for the learning of meditation to be a simple process, is the reality that the meditation state is one of our natural states of consciousness. We automatically slip into it several times a day – our states of suspense, wonderment, emotional experiences. But we do so lightly and fleetingly, that we fail to notice that we are in the meditation state. We deal with meditation because it is the only state of mind in which stress and its harmful effects can be removed. Where creative thinking, accelerated learning and the photographic memory manifests itself.

Way Forward

Health and Wealth


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