Heavy Metal Yoga: sounds like a bit of paradox? But for those well accustomed with the genre it might not come as a surprise that these two seemingly different worlds can coincide.
“I was looking around for events at places with anything guitar based all around town. Looked and I saw Heavy Metal Yoga. I’m thinking: okay, this I just have to try out! Just based purely on the name,” said Adam, a participant.
The class takes place every Saturday at the Black Heart, a heavy metal pub tucked away in a narrow side lane close to Camden Town. It is the kind of music venue you would expect to find in Camden, however, on this occasion people coming through the doors are not looking for a drink. They pass the bar and walk up a flight of wooden stairs. The upstairs room is dark and dimly lit with red lights with pink yoga mats on the black floor.
For someone who is not too familiar with heavy metal, they might perhaps expect something like Blackened screamo. However as ambient music fills the room, there is quite a different vibe.
Selma Rayon, the yoga instructor, explains the different types of heavy metal music. “It’s a huge umbrella term. You know, there’s very fast black metal which I don’t play. And then there’s slower doom stuff that I do play. There’s just so many different styles.”
As the lesson goes on the music gets heavier and you can hear the standard yoga instructions in the background. “You can take your feet wide apart. And keep the ankles together. Whatever feels better for your back.”
This mixture of heavy metal and yoga appears to be a growing trend. Selma is not the only one who has classes like this. There was yoga present at Inferno Metal Festival, and Doom Yoga in Hackney also uses this type of music as a backdrop. As Selma puts it “Just this heaviness really relaxed my mind so much.” She asserts that ‘it’s definitely a trend that’s growing,’ as the classes have been selling out quite fast so “maybe it is this niche market that needs to be filled more because people are clearly wanting this.”
Throughout the class the tempo of the music varies depending on the different poses. Jenny, who was the assistant for the session said that “the combination of the music, the sort of doomy heavier metal, slower pace with the yoga it sort of fast tracks your mind to that yoga space. You tune in to the music and let your body respond the cues.”
Alex, who attended in the session, echoed a similar sentiment. “The slow atmospheric metal that’s used with lots of melody and emotion behind the music, combining that with something fitness related is perfect for me.”
More participants also said the same things. “It’s good to have the physical and the mental release at the same time,” according to Hannah. “I like having the scene, I like having the tone. I think it sets a nice environment,” affirmed Toby.
It would appear that this unique form of relaxation is really hitting the spot for many people. Selma says that “It’s using music [as] a tool to guide your mind. If there is a heavy drumming noise, I feel like it drums my thoughts away. It’s like a very heavy exhale.”
If you are interested check out Selma's website or Doom Yoga