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Death Metal Yoga Saves – Praise Satan!

in Meditations on Mutations, YD News


Some people hate yoga. Some people hate it so much they need to do it in the back of a bar against the soundtrack of death metal music and devil horns in order to enjoy it. For the author of this piece about Metal Yoga, that hatred ran deep, and the cure was just a few “praise Satan”s away. Don’t tell the church.

“I have always hated yoga,” the author begins, almost embarrassingly, as she happens to be a “health and fitness magazine editor” who “wrote and edited countless stories instructing readers how to execute poses that would strengthen and slim them into yogic perfection.”

Some may already see the sign of a problem here.

“I tried neighborhood classes, fancy-trendy classes and Groupon bargain classes and hated them all,” she continues.

Some of you may already see another problem here.

Besides hating the “expert-level smugness” that she encountered in the glossy “uptown” classes, she also hated everything about yoga classes and yoga culture from the sound of the breathing next to her to the way yoga teachers act and speak to the way yogis carry their yoga mats, smugly, and with “overzealously squared shoulders and confident strides.”

Yeah, she pretty much hates everything about yoga. But her doctors told her it would be good for her scoliosis, so she kept trying. Everything sucked, according to her, until she found Metal Yoga Bones at the Cobra Club, a yoga studio/bar in Brooklyn. (You can’t get more hipster-Brooklyn-exclusive than this – a different kind of smugness  – but we digress.)

In Metal Yoga there are no chimes or singing bowls, where the closest you’ll come to a mudra is devil horns and the closest thing to chanting are howls and growls and an occasional “praise Satan!” for good metal measure. In Metal Yoga, speakers blast music from the likes of At the Gates and Cannibal Corpse.

In this class, the author, a self-proclaimed yoga hater, finally found her home. “I felt welcome and accepted,” she says. The class was relatable to her and that’s what matters.

Then the electric guitars started to blare: “Tormenter” by W.A.S.P., “Feel the Pain” by Obituary, “Forever Blind” by At the Gates, and other metal tracks. Thode was sometimes hard to hear over the music, but at least the death metal drowned out any heavy breathing and sniffling from my classmates. She led us through common Vinyasa poses: downward-facing dog, triangle pose, forward bend, Warrior I and Warrior II, to name several. But she was careful not to get stuck in the yoga jargon. When she led us into plank — calling it “plank” instead of “chaturanga” — she described it as “the top of a push-up” to make sure everyone knows what she’s talking about.

This is, ultimately, a wonderful thing. Someone who couldn’t stand yoga finally found a place where she feels comfortable enough to practice, and this is why it’s great that these alternative classes exist (yes, maybe even Broga, geez). Yoga teachers, a lot of them who teach standard classes, do have tattoos, and do offer the English translation to the Sanskrit. Savasana is corpse pose and plank is plank. But if you feel like you don’t belong and aren’t accepted for who you are, you’re not going to have a good time.

The thing is, NYC sure has a way of making you feel this disgusted and outcast, whether it has to do with yoga or Madison Avenue or Cronuts or anything hipsters cling to and decide is now IT. So we hear you, sister, and offer a cheers to a fellow fringer who doesn’t feel comfortable just following the pack. But, just playing Devil’s advocate here, we have to wonder if by deafening with death metal music and dismissing the yoga-ness of yoga you’re kind of missing some of…well, the yoga.

We agree, there is some sort of elitist feeling, or maybe even just club-like vibe, that yoga studios give off, especially in NYC, very similar to the way cycle studios and CrossFit gyms make you feel – like you really belong or don’t belong at all. But where we think this author might have missed the point is how she views yoga class, generally – as a workout – which may have caused the resistance all along.

“It might sound counterintuitive, but comfort is important in finding a workout that will keep you in shape. The most effective routine is the one that feels right for you. The more natural your workout feels, the more likely you are to stick to it,” the converted yogi writes.

This may be true. And yoga can and may keep you “in shape.” But maybe viewing yoga as less of a workout and more of a practice would help ease those pangs of hatred, too. Maybe somewhere in between praising Satan and death growls there is a little glimpse of inner, maybe even spiritual, comfort this author seems so dead-set against. Seeking familiarity is comfortable but what might be even more rock ‘n’ roll is every once in a while trying out that unfamiliar, uncomfortable situation of plain old yoga class, listening to your body and observing your thoughts and reactions. This is harder than it sounds, and maybe you’ll still hate it, but at least you might have a better understanding why.

Anyhow. We all find yoga (in whatever form) in different ways, and we’re glad she found it, too. That damn yoga.

*Put your Pope-dialing on hold. No one is actually worshipping Satan here or in Metal Yoga classes.*

image credit: Virginia Pelley for The Washington Post



11 comments… add one
  • I think it’s great when people take alternative routes. Often times in life we are on a certain path looking for certain things and along the way we make new discoveries that we might not have ever imagined. I think even people who try yoga to get “in shape” often discover the many benefits yoga offers for the mind, body and spirit. If a certain kind of music helps introduce newcomers to yoga, I believe that is a positive thing. They may never discover it otherwise.

    Another example of this I saw recently was a relative who decided to go plant based/vegan for health reasons. Since then, not only has her health improved, but she said she also feels that a weight had been lifted from her because she never felt fully comfortable with idea of eating animals. Being vegan, she no longer feels that burden.

    So, with all that in mind, not only may the metal heads in these classes find their own way to becoming full fledged yogis, another possible outcome is that perhaps some ambient-music yogis who try death metal yoga will become full fledged metal heads! Now the would be turning yoga on its head!

  • Carlos

    Wow. This is so strange to see how the west has morphed this practice into something entirely off the path of its original intention. What’s next?! Hip Hop Vinyasa, oh wait….that exists already.

  • News Flash! Nobody here is “finding yoga.” You’re just exercising. “Converted yogis” do not refer to their practice as a workout. Yoga dork is following close behind elephant journal in the race to irrelevancy.

    • Bradd, no disrespect, but I think your comment is unfair. If you re-read the post, you will see that the folks at Yoga Dork are not referring to yoga as a workout. They even suggest that considering yoga a “workout” could be part of the problem of why people might not become engaged with yoga in the first place; “maybe viewing yoga as less of a workout and more of a practice would help ease those pangs of hatred, too. ” Just sayin’…

  • paul

    yoga is for reducing the pains and opening awareness, removing ignorance; if these aren’t part of the program i think “yoga inspired” is the at-most in relation to yoga it should be said as. (i really like that last phrasing, yaay!) peace and joy to these noise stuffers!

  • John

    The article and comments make me sympathise with the poor woman. The superior smugness of people insisting only their definition of yoga is valid – a definition that includes absolutely unproven beliefs, completely ignores the dictionary, and disagrees with prominent historical teachers – puts me off yoga too. If only she didn’t think WASP was “death metal”.

  • Carlos

    I ask… does this type of music create an environment for the body and mind to be at peace? Or does it create a disharmonious, and or a distracted environment?

    It looks more like calisthenics to me and I am sure people who practice in this type of environment feel good afterwards. If so, great for them!

    I question why there is a tendency to incorporate music into the practice room at all.
    With all the stimulation one comes across with technology and media everyday, the practice is a wonderful opportunity to break free for a short time from all these distractions.

  • Really, and my LEGO Yoga was too far fetched for Yoga Dork to pick up on?

  • I feel that whatever avenue brings you to yoga is all good. Not everyone is all peace and glitter and unicorn farts when seeking out a way to be more present and reduce their anxiety. for someone like me – suffering from anxiety and depression but not willing to suppress my real feelings with pills, I needed something more than what I was doing. I was not all in to what yoga practitioners sort of expect from you – so these kind of alternate routes got me to fall in love with not only practicing yoga, but also dipping a toe in to all that yogis toes are dipped into.

    there are so many paths to finding what works for you.

    This is one of them.

    I will never insist on knowing what yoga is and is not. I feel its very much an eye of the beholder thing.

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