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      Connected | September 13, 2017

      Back in Black: Yoga at PEM

      Paige Besse

      Written by

      Paige Besse


      For some time, Tina Moroney taught your usual relaxing yoga classes, but life has a way of pulling the mat out from under you.

      The utter heartbreak and depression she experienced through her father’s diagnosis, battle, and ultimate passing from cancer, would forever change the course of her career. As she was trying to fight her demons through yoga, Tina came to a striking realization. The yoga music she was hearing was not an honest way for her to practice. “It was not accurate depiction of what I felt when I was doing yoga or why I was doing yoga,” she says. The deep, yet brooding and meditative tones in metal were a better fit, helping her to face the storm head on, which was much healthier, and proved that beautiful things can come from the darkest of places.

      Tina Moroney of Black Widow Yoga. Photo credit Joey Phoenix.

      Tina has taken the idea of metal music and mental well-being to the next level, bending over backwards (literally and metaphorically) to channel the “OM” in OM-inous music. With that said, yoga class will be making a glorious return to PEM. Tina previously taught class with another yoga company inside the PEM installation of Anila Agha’s Intersections, but this time around she gets to share something that she has created and is incredibly proud of. Yoga is coming black.

      This is just another example of how the exhibition It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection has allowed those of us with dark, weird and wonderful souls to come out to play. There is a reason some of us find solace in the off-beat, unique and macabre. Kirk Hammett explains his feelings this way: “I try to be as emotional as possible. Music helps me communicate with other people. I go to a place deep inside me and it comes out in notes. This exhibition is similar to that. It’s part of me.”

      The It’s Alive! Exhibition at PEM. Photo credit Allison White/PEM.

      Kirk has found his outlet through horror films and making monstrous music, a fine example that there is something out there for everyone trying to quell the inner turmoil. And though it might come as a shock to some, peace can be found through loud genres of music; be it punk, alternative, metal, thrash, hardcore, screamo, rock and so on. In fact, a study in neuroscience from the University of Queensland found that different forms of “extreme” music can have positive effects on the listener, promoting “inspiring calmness” rather than blood-boiling anger.

      Kirk warming up prior to an evening reception. Photo credit Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

      The idea is not far from what neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux discusses in an essay for the It’s Alive! exhibition catalog describing how horror films allow us to “enjoy the rush in a safe atmosphere.”

      Kirk warming up prior to an evening reception. Photo credit Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

      Extreme music, the study notes, allowed participants to “explore the full gamut of emotion they felt” and left them feeling much more active, inspired and empowered. The study further reported that these participants, “used music to enhance their happiness, immerse themselves in feelings of love and enhance their wellbeing.” If all of that doesn’t sound like an ad for yoga, than I don’t know what does.

      As Boston Magazine points out, “it’s going to get loud” at the museum on Saturday, September 23 during our exhibition celebration for It’s Alive!. Tina is bringing us a blood-tingling session of Black Widow Yoga, a new yoga experience that blends yoga with doom metal music, for dark and adventurous souls. And while the roar of an electric guitar and the pounding of drums in metal echoes that sense of power that yoga instills, the class is much more than the music.

      Dark, beautiful, and adventurous souls. Photo credit Empyreal Images.

      In a Black Widow Yoga session there is screaming and swearing. It is raw and genuine. Tina explains, “That’s why I teach yoga, like anyone else, it’s to be mindful and honest.” Channeling Metallica’s lyrics from “Wherever I May Roam” with a “free to speak my mind anywhere, and I'll redefine anywhere” attitude, a Black Widow Yoga class brings the aura of yoga back down to earth.

      Tina accepts that darkness is a part of her, and proudly wears it on her sleeve. “I am not afraid to admit that I have skeletons in my closet,” says Tina, “everyone has them.” And that is exactly why this is not meant to be a cookie-cutter yoga class. It indulges that clandestine side, breaks misconceptions and affords everyone the opportunity to admit that “it’s okay to be dark.”

      Tina inspiring calmness with heavy metal. Photo credit Joey Phoenix.

      Tina took notice of Saskia Thode and her concept of Metal Yoga Bones in Brooklyn, New York, and thought that it would be something special to bring to the North Shore (and beyond). People have embraced this awesome concept of non-traditional yoga in non-traditional spaces, with the likes of the Boston Globe and DigBoston taking notice of Black Widow Yoga in particular. For many, taking one of Tina’s classes is their first real experience with yoga. When you join Black Widow Yoga for a session, there is an air of acceptance. Tina notes, “This is a class for anyone that wants to try something new,” a judgment-free zone where, “all body types, genders, sexualities and experience levels are welcome and everyone will be encouraged not to judge themselves.”

      In session with Black Widow Yoga! Photo credit Empyreal Images.

      Tina has noticed that, for the first time, many of her students feel as though they fit in with a yoga class, and the fact that Tina sees a lot of men participating in the class is evidence enough. Tina says that her main focus is to continue building this community of metal-yoga-goers and instilling a little bit of confidence in those who join, pointing out, “I’m always up for grabbing a post-session beer and having a good conversation!”

      In session with Black Widow Yoga! Photo credit Empyreal Images.

      To Tina, the venues have become just as important as the actual classes, with the likes of Black Veil Tattoo, ONCE Ballroom, Notch Brewing, Sonia (a rock club in Cambridge) and the Satanic Temple playing host to Black Widow Yoga. It seemed natural for PEM to be next on that list. Tina has been excitedly preparing for her metal yoga session here at the museum by researching facts about the collection and working to tie in thematic elements to the class. “It’s Alive! has given me a whole new appreciation for posters as art,” said Tina. Asked if she had a favorite, Tina jumped straight to the posters of The Black Cat.

      Black cats in the exhibition. Photo credit Paige Besse.
      Black cats in the exhibition. Photo credit Paige Besse/PEM.

      Plus, “PEM is awesome!” Tina adds, confessing to being a long-time fan of the museum and of Salem. It’s welcoming, inclusive and a charming amalgamation of alternative people and cultures and the museum mirrors that. “PEM goes against the grain. It is open minded and a community-first organization, providing a variety of experiences and events that are all-embracing.”

      Tina showing off her eagle pose. Photo credit Empyreal Images.

      Horns up, yogis! Bring your body and mind to a place of focus while inciting the beautiful darkness within. Join Black Widow Yoga at PEM from 10-11 am on Saturday, September 23 as part of our It’s Alive! exhibition celebration. All levels welcome; reservations by September 22. Click here to learn more. And to amp yourself up for this event, listen to Black Widow Yoga’s playlists here!

      Considering a dose of metal yoga in your everyday life? Learn more about Tina and Black Widow Yoga at or on Facebook at

      Keep exploring

      Past Exhibition

      It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection

      August 12, 2017 to November 26, 2017

      It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection

      Past Exhibition

      Intersections: Anila Quayyum Agha

      February 6, 2016 to October 16, 2016

      Intersections: Anila Quayyum Agha