BLACK YO)))GA is vinyasa style yoga set to drone, noise, stoner metal, ambient, industrial, space doom, and other traditional meditation music. It incorporates basic poses in a relaxed environment, while focusing on safe body mechanics. It’s a traditional class in practice, though darker than what you may typically associate with yoga.
Our goal is to create a heavy meditative space in order to spread the benefits of yoga to people within our own art and music communities: people who may battle depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug addiction, trauma/PTSD, phobias, dark passengers, etc.; those who may not feel they fit into the typical yoga classes; the people who, in all rights, may most need the balance and release of yoga to return to and lead rich, fulfilling lives.
“You can’t fully appreciate the light until you understand the darkness.”
BLACK YO)))GA currently holds sessions…
@ Monroeville Yoga Co-Op (recently relocated to Alba Fitness)
610 Beatty Rd., Monroeville, PA 15146 [MAP]
Pay What You Can (Suggested Donation: $10)
See BLACK YO)))GA Class Schedule for Updates.
We also do events and offer private or group private classes. Please contact us if you’re interested in scheduling.
Frequently Asked Questions
by way of an old email interview…
Date: Jan 27, 2014 7:52 AM
Subject: Questions for Zine! (Every Pose Has Its Thorn)
Hi Scott and Kimee!
Thank you so much for taking your time to answer a few questions for my zine. I’m going to be distributing it online and around Brooklyn in the next few weeks. It is mainly about my personal journey with committing to health and wellness and falling in love with the practice of yoga. It’s been transformational for me — not only have I gained muscles, confidence, more balance, inner strength, and created community, but its helped me recover from an eating disorder and deal with my lifelong underlying issues of anxiety and depression. The zine will also be a bit informative, with some of my fav poses, yoga terms, types of yoga, and songs to practice to.
You can skip around questions, and answer all or none of these! If you have additional information you want to share, go ahead as well. Take your time — maybe by the end of the week if possible?
Also, I’m going through my teacher training this summer. I would love to bring Black Yoga to Brooklyn for real.
Love and gratitude,
1. Where did the idea from Black Yoga get started? Give us your backstory!
We needed it. Kimee and I (Scott) have been together since ’98, married for (14) years of that with a (7) year old son. We’re just like a lot of people with jobs, car payments, responsibilities, and hobbies like bands and record labels that cost too much. Not to mention all the things people usually try to hide, such as anxieties, phobias, addictions, and so on. Life can take over and has the ability to choke you out if you’re not mindful of it. We found ourselves at a point where if we were going to survive, not just as a family, but as individuals, we needed something to cut through all that shit and get us back onto a path we could feel good about together.
So it started as a conversation on a road trip listening to the Bohren & der Club of Gore album, Midnight Black Earth. Kimee had become a yoga instructor a year or so earlier and had always wanted to do something with her classes that would fit her style and personality a little better. We had a few other CDs in the car, like Locrian’s The Crystal World and Sleep’s Dopesmoker, so we just kind of hashed out the initial blueprint from there.
When we got home, I put a few things together and contacted my friend Chad Hammitt, who I thought was about the only other person I knew who would not only have a complimenting music collection (different sides of the same idea, not just all the same stuff), but would also be interested in taking on the task with me. He was in immediately.
Chad and I set out to make the music mixes while Kimee looked into finding a spot where we could have a new class that would be open to this sort of thing. She found a place and we finished the first draft of a few mixes, we made sort of a mash-up a flyer for the class that incorporated the “O)))” and Sunn’s Monoliths & Dimensions album cover, so that people who “knew” would sort of “know”, if that makes any sense at all. And that’s about how it got started. We just wanted a new class for ourselves that had music we liked, figured some like minds would want to come too. Everything since has just been daily practice.
2. Who practices at Black Yoga? What is the community like? How do people find out about Black Yoga?
The classes are kind of like small local shows in a way. There’s a lot of tattoos, band tees, local musicians and folks from the scene. Sprinkle in a few more traditional and open minded old-school yogis here and there. It’s a very friendly environment. At first we thought it would just be a class for us and a few of our friends, but once it started we saw how powerful of an experience it was for our own lives and thought about how it could affect other people’s lives in the same sort of way.
We know how it is for people like us and in our underground punk and metal and art and other sub-culture communities, a lot of people in this particular demographic are scared to even try yoga, too shy or self-conscious or something. Then there’s the folks who wouldn’t have gone because of their pre-conceived notions of the new-agey or religious stigma yoga can have. We wanted to try and open it up for those people most of all, the people who may need it most. There’s a lot of silent suffering out there. I’ll be flat out honest and say that it saved my life. Maybe other people who are a lot like me would find the same. Somehow it worked. People apparently heard and picked up on it and more people of that nature have started coming.
As for finding out about it, that’s sort of been the baffling thing that’s made me believe in it even more. Aside from a few flyers and a couple social media outlets, the concept alone of BLACK YO)))GA has pretty much promoted itself. Word of mouth has led to everything — interviews, articles, shares, likes, COOL DIY ZINES!, etc. We’ve never had to really do anything to push it. And I gotta tell you, after years of working with bands and putting out albums, booking shows and tours, PR campaigns and those types of things for Innervenus, it’s been really nice to just focus on what’s important and let those “promotion” efforts work themselves. It’s a concept that apparently people can resonate with, and it’s bigger than any of us as individuals. So that’s a good thing. It was never for sale, never a competition for people’s attention. Honestly, I can’t imagine any other way now. My strategy for the future of the music industry has completely changed as a result of this, but that’s a story for another day.
3. Black Yoga is truly DIY and is not a traditional studio — operating a bit guerrilla style. Discuss how you find your spaces to practice in.
People who take our class and friends talking to friends, really. We started in 2 locations (neither of which we’re in anymore), one of them was a hair salon that a friend who worked there offered up when Kimee was getting her hair cut and chatting about the idea. The other was a screenprint shop where our record label had been getting shirts made for a while. From there, people would just mention spots they had been to or heard of and connections would be made. Right now our two locations are an old grocery store that’s been gutted and turned into a green building/holistic swap meet kind of place (Schwartz Living Market), and an old church that’s been re-purposed and become a non-profit community center (Union Project). There’s an art gallery on our minds for the future, but we’ll see. We may end up in an actual yoga studio someday, we’re not totally against that, this is just where our roots have been.
4. What type of yoga is practiced in a Black Yoga class? Is the class structure inspired by the playlist, or is the playlist inspired by the class structure?
We do vinyasa yoga, which is a flow. The playlist was structured on the flow of the class, but every class is different and there’s currently 12 mixes that all have their own feel depending on what songs got used, so it becomes more an organic process. The music speaks to the class speaks to the music speaks to the class….. it’s all about breathing. Sometimes I don’t even pay attention. LOL
5. For me, doom and metal inspires my practice with its repetition and drony guitars that I can focus on. How does doom and metal inspire your practice?
It’s something I can relate to, sonically. It speaks to me, and sometimes, though I know better, I feel that it’s only to me. The music sends vibrations through my inner self and my practice follows accordingly. There’s a common misconception about dark music, that it’s “bad” or “depressing”. I don’t think that’s true, but that it’s all in the eye of the beholder. I find peace in those sounds, and it allows me to open myself up to a higher power, which sees it’s way through in my practice. I don’t always listen to metal, and the BLACK YO)))GA playlists aren’t all drone at all, but it’s definitely an integral part.
6. What tips would you give to someone who has reservations about starting yoga or trying a group class?
Whether you mean to or not, you end up learning a lot about the art of letting go in yoga. It’s a vital part of moving forward. But I’ll just say it ahead of time to help get you through the door… Reservations are usually just excuses to cover hang ups and self doubt. You gotta let that shit go. There’s really no reason not to try new things that have the potential to be good for you or benefit your life in a positive manner. Just find a class to attend and give it a shot. Maybe try a couple different locations or instructors. At the end of your experience, it might not be for you. There are many paths in this life and I think anyone would be ignorant to think theirs is the only way. But if you’re thinking of trying yoga at all, there has to be a reason, something you want in your life or something you’re searching for. You just have to give it an honest try to find out, and I don’t mean 1 class with a half closed mind, I mean an honest try. You’re never going to be “ready” for any of the truly important things in life, you just take a deep breath and go for it. Truthfully, I didn’t get “comfortable” until I had been doing it about 6 months, it’s just something I had to work out. And if I can do it, you can do it.
7. What tips would you give to someone trying to establish their own DIY yoga community, without money or resources for a space?
Man, we’ve been doing this for however long now and we still don’t really know what we’re doing. I say that kind of jokingly, but no, I’m serious. You just got to do what feels right for your situation. That’s been the whole magic of this. There were no blueprints, no guidelines. I’ve since found a few books that I wish I had read before starting, like the Punk Rock Yoga Manifesto. They do a similar thing to what we do, but I didn’t even know it at the time. That book’s insight probably would have helped. I guess ultimately, if you think it’s something you really want to do, research it. Ask around, see what kinds of places are available, how many of your friends or current students (if you already teach somewhere) would want to go to your new class. And remember that no matter who says they’ll go in the beginning, they probably won’t or they won’t go regularly. We had a few months with 2 people in class, sometimes none. Only now after a year and a half and 6 different locations is it even semi-regular. But that’s just it, we never did it for massive turn outs, we did it because we felt it’s something we needed to do. If you get that burn, that desire, that passion… you’ll do it and find a way to do it no matter what, and you’ll figure it out as you go. Now that I think about it, that’s almost exactly how I started my first band.
8. Whats on your current playlist?
Well, of course there’s the self-pimping answer that says: http://www.mixcloud.com/blackyoga. But as I’m sitting here answering these questions, I look up to my computer’s history and see the following: Requiem, Sunn O)))/Ulver, Sigur Rós, Black Swan, Pigface, Pig Destroyer, Nine Inch Nails, Budrus, Yoga, Nadja, Lhasa de Sela…
9. Ever able to get a touring band to pop in for a class?
Ha. No, but that would be awesome.
10. Do you see Black Yoga growing beyond Pittsburgh?
Yeah, I think so. Some people have contacted us asking about that. It’s humbling for sure, but if people want it and it’s something we can do, then why not? There’s a lot of business and planning and travel in all that though, and with a child at home and no real money to speak of, we’ll just have to see how that plays out. What’s most important to us though is foundation and grounding. Once we feel comfortable here, I’m sure the future opportunities will open up, just as things involving BLACK YO)))GA have presented themselves thus far. I don’t think it’s something we could or should really rush into. That’s the thing about yoga and breath; you don’t think about the next breath, only the one you’re currently taking. Spending more time living in the now, I think that pretty much sums up how we look at the future of anything anymore, because really, right now is all there is. #zenshit