Black Metal Yoga Is A Thing, And It Helps People Safely Explore Negative Emotions

"It wound up being the only place where I felt like I could safely express emotion."

Yoga is an attractive practice for many people because it teaches breath control, mindfulness, meditation techniques, flexibility, and more. However, like most things in life, one size does not fit all. Not everyone identifies with the traditional form, culture, and community of yoga, which is why many yogis are branching out to create their own practice

Alissa Nelson regularly practiced yoga after she was sexually assaulted and used it as a tool to heal. The assault had left her feeling disconnected from herself and her values. She tried yoga in an effort to find some relief from her trauma. 

"Here's one place where I could be with a group of people that weren't going to try to touch me, weren't going to try and get in my space, and it wound up being the only place where I felt like I could safely express emotion," Nelson said in a video for Self. "So I would go to yoga and I would just cry for, like, sometimes 10, 15 minutes at the end of class and that was the only place where I felt like I could do it." 

However, she did recognize that the clothes, cost, and overflow of positive messaging didn't feel quite as comfortable as she hoped to be. Nelson, who is now a certified yoga teacher, started practicing black metal yoga instead. The practice is exactly what it sounds like. Participants try different poses and breathing techniques while listening to black metal, doom, drone, and shoegaze music. 

Nelson, who now teaches black metal yoga classes in LA, believes it can help people safely explore their darker emotions and make the practice more accessible. 

"Look at yoga not just as something that is super positive and all light and shiny, but also just giving you tools to deal with all the hard stuff and the shadow side of everything," she said during the Self interview. "I wanted to start something for my community for people who could really use a place where they feel welcome and accepted for exactly who they are." 

At first, it may seem like black metal and yoga couldn't be more opposite. But combining the two can help fans of the music find harmony between their bodies and their minds. Studios such as BLACK YO)))GA in Pitssburg, PA and Metal Yoga Bones in Brooklyn, NY also offer metal yoga sessions and invite all levels to join. 

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