Downward Grog vs The Black Metal Yogi

Last month, we had our first collaboration with LA's Black Metal Yogi. Alissa Nelson's thoughtful, meditative approach to yoga is exactly what we're about. She doesn't shy away from the darkness but uses it to find her light. We both believe that yoga is for everyone. Our beliefs are aligned brilliantly. The class was a massive, sold out hit, so we're doing another one on March 24th. I asked Alissa to write a manifesto for what her classes are all about. Horns up!

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Black Metal Yoga is:

  • Vinyasa-based yoga classes

  • A powerful, intelligently-sequenced flow

  • Breath-based pacing that focuses on self-regulation

  • Welcoming to all bodies and all experiences

  • Good fucking playlists and cussing

Black Metal Yoga is NOT:

  • $90 pants

  • Being a jerk

What Black Metal Yoga means to me:

I’ve always been an outside kid. I liked being outside in nature, but I also felt fundamentally outside of the places I inhabited. Being born in Oakland and growing up a religious minority in the lush green of southern Rhode Island will do that to you. In high school a friend from Hebrew School introduced me to punk rock and I never looked back.

Music has always been my preferred route to community, from hanging out in college town record stores and dusty basement shows to indie rock dance nights and college radio (my show was called Liberation Frequency, btw). Punk rock and the general ethos of DIY culture always made fundamental sense to me. Do things in the interest of mutual support: book each other’s bands, read each other’s zines, lift each other up. I bring that to a lot of my work now, from yoga to the mental health consulting business that pays my bills.

Yoga and the friends I’ve made through the DIY scene helped me through a lot of life stuff, some of it good stuff and sometimes very, very difficult stuff, including healing from rape. This is how I give back: by helping to bring some of the life skills that I’ve learned to the community that has helped me out. I try to teach a class that I imagine my friends would like: good music, bad jokes, real talk. I don’t stress a lot of super out-there stuff in my classes, just neuroscience-grounded instruction that’s pretty well steeped in my (admittedly not expert-level) understanding of Buddhism. I like having an excuse to learn about something and share it, and Black Metal Yoga is all of that wrapped into one.  

Sometimes shit isn’t pretty or nice. But sometimes it is. It doesn’t make sense to push away dark emotions or challenges, because that doesn’t give us the reliance we need to be able to survive and it doesn’t allow us to exist as full expressions of our basic shared humanity.

The light and the dark in me sees the light and the dark in you. That’s the essence of Black Metal Yoga.