Entrepreneur Lisa Brown is a life-long fitness enthusiast and she is looking to bridge her hobby of getting active with the African tradition of yoga.
The actress and model decided to launch Lisa Brown’s Treasure’s & Gifts after conceptualizing a line of yoga mat designs, which are exclusively available on her website, in August. The shop had its official launch on January 1 and Brown said she’s been inundated with customers, including three big orders from local African-American Kemetic, or ancient Egyptian, yoga facilities.
Two of the customers, who knew their clients would love the mats, were so flooded with requests that Brown is considering offering an affiliate program. She also is in talks with Atlanta’s Shrine of the Black Madonna to make the mats available in a store, as well as other Black boutiques in the West End neighborhood.
While speaking with Atlanta Black Star, Brown, a life-long yogi who was recently invited to the 2017 African Fashion Week in London, explained one of the reasons for the yoga line was to showcase the origins of the practice.
“My purpose was to provide an appreciation of the beauty of western Egypt and ancient Africa,” said the self-described mission-driven founder. “There’s a lot of people doing yoga but no images of the origins of yoga. So, that was one of the reasons that I decided to create something — to [give] a vision of what you’re physically practicing.”
The True Origins of Yoga
Religious scholar Dr. Muata Ashby noted that Kemetic yoga, a discipline that was practiced by the ancient Egyptians for 10,000 years has similarities to the Indian style of yoga. The latter version is what many people think of when it comes to the exercise, but the practice has roots in the present-day Egyptian land known as Kemet.
“India can be found in ancient Egypt, but Kemet cannot be found in India,” Brown said. “So, you can draw the conclusion that Egypt is much older than India. [At] a lot of facilities [I’ve been to], no one really talks about the origin. There’s [sic] so many Indian chakra mats, but there was nothing for us.”
Finding Inspiration from Culture and Heritage
After recognizing the large domestic and global Kemetic community and noticing no products reflected African heritage, Brown found her mission.
“I guess that was a purpose,” she said. “To bring something to African-Americans and the diaspora of Africa to have a reflection of our beauty.”
Created for people of all ages, Brown named the yoga equipment accessories line “Inner Alkebulan by Black Lotus,” which translates to “the land of the Blacks by Lotus.” In keeping with the theme, the creator named the four mat designs after various African symbols. The Blue Wax mat showcases traditional West African fabrics, while the Kemetic mat uses a papyrus background with Ma’at relief image representing truth, balance, order, harmony and justice. The Eye of Horus (or of Ra) mat is named after the sky god it celebrates, who had the head of a peregrine falcon as shown on the product. It also features the Wedjat, which represents the “Third Eye,” a symbol of protection, royal power and health. The Scarab and Ankhs mat shows the ancient symbols named in the title, the former of which is the figure of regeneration and eternal life, while the latter is the symbol of life.
“It’s something visceral that hits [Black people] — they identify with it,” she said of the mat designs. “Whether it’s [that] they know what the Eye of Horus is, the Ma’at, the blue wax, they have such a positive response.”
Aside from inspiration from Kenyan and Nigerian friends who introduced her to many African fabrics, Brown said the Black Lives Matter movement was an inspiration for her to create Inner Alkebulan.
“I just wanted to, in my own way, put something out there to give the
African diaspora something to look upon as a beautiful vision of yourself,” she said. “So, that was probably one of the reasons I wanted to design a line, because of all the killing, all the murders of African-American people or just people in general. I just wanted to bring something that symbolizes peace, beauty, the original presentation of African people [and] to encourage African-American girls, African-American boys to look within and have a love for self.”
A “Blessed” Response
Sales for the mats have come from the London and the United States and by boosting a few posts on Facebook, Brown, who plans to add a clothing and yoga accessories line to the shop, has been able to reach pockets of Black communities in Utah and Michigan, where access to Kemetic yoga materials are not readily available.
Brown said she has been overwhelmed with the responses she’s received on the line.
“I’m a little bit shocked,” she said. “You never know how it’s going to be received. People are Instagramming, Facebooking, calling saying, ‘Thank you for the inspiration, I’ve always wanted something like that.’ It’s been humbling.”