Yirser Ra Hotep is a master instructor of Yoga and the creator of the YogaSkills Method. He is the most senior instructor of Kemetic Yoga in the United States, with over 45 years of experience practicing and teaching. Yirser was involved with the original research and documentation of Kemetic Yoga (Ancient Egyptian or African Yoga), along with master instructor Dr. Asar Ha-pi in the 1970’s. He has trained and certified over 5000+ Kemetic Yoga instructors across the globe through his school, YogaSkills School of Kemetic Yoga, and conducts historical/cultural/spiritual tours of Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa and other parts of the African Diaspora.
Yirser holds Masters Degrees in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and in Inner City Studies from Northeastern Illinois University, a BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago and has studied Anthropology on the graduate level. He has operated Group Homes for abused and neglected youth, operated youth mentoring programs and worked as an Administrator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
In addition to Yoga, Yirser is a practitioner of Tai Chi and Chi Qong. He has studied these arts with Jabulani Makalini, Wayne B. Chandler, Ike Olu and others. As a graduate student, he studied with, and was mentored by, Dr. Jaccb Carruthers, John G. Jackson, Anderson Thompson, Conrad Worrill and Dr. Robert Starks. As a student leader at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the 1970s, he organized students to protest the Apartheid system in South Africa and was successful at defeating policies that would have drastically reduced Black and Latino enrollment and programs designed to support students to stay in college. He was also effective in staging lectures series for Black student enlightenment that featured panel discussions on South Africa and lectures by Yosef Ben Jochannon, Alex Haley and Dick Gregory.
Yirser has been involved in a variety of research projects measuring the effects of Yoga and Meditation on youth and adults. He is currently the principle instructor on a research project conducted at Cook County Jail in Chicago measuring the affect of Mindful Meditation on relapse and recidivism rates among inmates upon their release.
Yirser is also a professor at DePaul University School for New Learning in Chicago where he has created cutting edge courses such as the “Science of Yoga”, “Stress Management for Health and Wellness”, “Ancient Wisdom vs. Modern Science”, “Research Methods”, “Cultural Diversity” and the “African American Family and Genealogy”.
He has continued to research, document and expand on the foundations of Kemetic Yoga. He has written extensively, lectured and led workshops throughout the United States, Africa, London, Paris and the Caribbean, including Cuba. Yirser has been featured in publications such as Yoga Journal, Black Enterprise, Ebony Magazine, Yoga Chicago, Yoga Journal France, Yoga Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Parent and African Business and Culture. He has also been interviewed and featured on WGN TV, ABC TV, NBC TV, CBS TV and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show during the “In the Spirit” segment.
Ra Hotep was a pioneer in training children, their teachers, and social workers in the science of becoming calm and maintaining focus through his system called Internal Self Regulation or ISR. Yirser first began to use ISR in 1979 working with children at the Better Boys Foundation and in Chicago Public Schools. ISR incorporates deep breathing, focusing exercises and movements in order to stimulate the nervous system to become calm.
In the 1980s Yirser applied his systems of ISR and the YogaSkills Method to the treatment of substance abusers and those addicted to alcohol. As a Social Worker and Therapist, he has worked with children traumatized by abuse and neglect to overcome the debilitating effects of their experiences to live wholesome lives.
In 2004, Yirser was given an award by the Easter Seals organization for his work with helping children with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities through his YogaSkills for Kids program. This program has been replicated at the Centers for New Horizons, Southwest Youth Collaborative, Chicago Urban League, One Hope United and numerous public and private schools throughout Chicago and other cities nationally and in Ghana.