Tina Moroney of Black Widow Yoga talks emotional processing, yoga stereotypes, and what it means to really leave it all on the mat.
by Joey Phoenix
Yoga is a cultural phenomenon often associated with kombucha, lululemon, and Instagram lifestyle models. There’s yoga for moms-to-be, yoga with goats and rabbits, and even yoga on paddleboards. Although these bright modern traditions are healthy and full of merit, they are certainly not for everyone, especially those whose sensibilities lean more towards the darker side.
Tina Moroney is a North Shore-based yoga teacher who spent years teaching traditional yoga classes before a difficult personal tragedy caused her to rethink her entire practice. During this transformation, in between working shifts at Salem restaurants, she started teaching yoga classes with a darker edge, trading in atmospheric sounds focused on lightness for heavy metal and appreciation for the darker sides of the human experience.
“Life is not always pretty,” Tina explains. “To expect people to react with ‘good vibes only’ to the ugly side of life is not only unrealistic but unhealthy.
“Humans feel anger. Humans feel sadness. Humans feel grief. We can have these feelings and emotions, but also choose how and when we express them.”
Tina started Black Widow Yoga as a response to this realization, and her classes quickly started filling up. People who had felt unwelcome or uncomfortable in more traditional yoga classes started finding an outlet in Tina’s yoga classes.
“In Black Widow Yoga classes, we acknowledge that yoga can be a microcosm to express these emotions safely, and we encourage people to choose how to express them.” She explains. “We scream and shout, but we also move through our darkness so as not to harm our mental health and our relationships with others.”
Tina originally trained with South Boston Yoga teachers David Vendetti and Todd Skoglund and she continues to include what she learned from them into her classes today. “I try to incorporate my sense of humor to make class more fun and light-hearted like David, but I also love the power aspect of yoga and try to teach a peak pose, or challenge students in some way like Todd,” she explains.
“Humans feel anger. Humans feel sadness. Humans feel grief. We can have these feelings and emotions, but also choose how and when we express them.”Tina Moroney, Black Widow Yoga
Black Widow Yoga classes don’t differ from conventional yoga in their form as much as they do in style and emotional output. Each class moves through a traditional vinyasa flow with a bit of creativity mixed in. They’re also freer with their language. “Classes are PG-13 for swearing reasons,” Tina adds with a laugh.
Heavy metal yoga classes are meant to be cathartic, allowing people to lean into those darker places that they so often have to button up inside of them during their day-to-tday. When someone goes through something difficult, they need an outlet to process that. Not everyone can cope with the hard stuff by breathing lightly and chanting “Om.” Sometimes they need to yell and swear and sweat until the calm returns.
When it comes to developing healthy coping mechanisms, Tina suggests: Why not Yoga?
Yoga isn’t just for the super-pretty instagram models who live off of sunshine, it’s for those going through good times and bad, those from all kinds of backgrounds, those with all kinds of bodies. Throw heavy metal into the mix and someone can have the kind of experience that reaches the shadowiest places inside.
“Every body is a yoga body. We’re all allowed to have our insecurities about the way we look, but we shouldn’t let it stop us from practicing something as beneficial as yoga.
“Yoga can not only tone your abs and arms, but it can also help anxiety disorders, depression, ADHD, and other mental health issues, and not to mention, bring more clarity to your mind.”
You can take classes with Black Widow Yoga all over the North Shore and in Boston. She hosts weekly classes at Green Tea Yoga and frequent pop-ups at Notch and other breweries in the area. Soon, she plans to expand classes into the South Shore and possibly into NYC.
Joey Phoenix is a performance artist and the Managing Editor of Creative North Shore. Follow them on Twitter @jphoenixmedia. If you have an idea for a story, feature, or pictures of adorable llamas, feel free to send them a message at firstname.lastname@example.org