Traditional yoga class soundtracks don’t include artists such as Cradle of Filth or Pallbearer in their playlists, but Amy Patton uses them in hers.
Patton started teaching black yoga at Eastside Yoga after getting certified as an instructor. In preparation for her Black Yoga class, she decorates the studio in candles and skulls and greets her attendees with satanic robes.
“It’s not a religious thing,” Patton said. “Mostly the shock factor of it. The dark arts, which a lot of people who come to my class are into that sort of thing — horror movie buffs, things like that.”
Black yoga, yoga performed to black metal, started when Patton realized there was a need for meditation in the community of people who shy away from the “hippie” parts of yoga. She teaches beginner yoga set to songs she picks out to match her class, she said.
“The people that come to my class are usually the people who would never walk into a yoga studio,” Patton said. “I have a lot of people in the tattoo community, in the service industry, in the roller derby hard-core scene. It’s still traditional yoga — body, mind [and] breath. I just changed the music.”
Patton plans on teaching additional black yoga classes at The North Door nightclub, where she works as a bar manager.
“I didn’t know how big this class was going to be,” Patton said. “My first class, there were 50 people that showed up. I had to pack the room. [Steven Ross], who owns Eastside, came to the first class, and he’s never seen so many people in a class before. He called me a yoga legend.”
Patton will teach black yoga at 6 p.m. Monday evening at The North Door to promote EyeHateGod, a New Orleans metal band that will have a show at the venue Wednesday. Bass player Gary Mader said he has not tried yoga.
“I meditate, but I don’t know anything about yoga at all,” Mader said. “I’ve always had a quartz skull that I carry around with me. To me, the quartz is almost like an auxiliary for memory.”
Patton said she wants to introduce yoga to people who may not have thought about trying yoga, such as Mader.
“Having a dark class is helpful because if you go to gyms, you have mirrors and windows everywhere,” Patton said. “This is a very intimate classroom setting. Sometimes I do partner exercises in class to heighten the experience of yoga. That’s one thing that draws me into yoga — the community aspect of it.”
Adam Allmon, The North Door’s general manager, said Patton has helped turn people’s lives around because of how she brings together yoga and metal.
“It’s not so much a common element as bringing two things that vibe well together that don’t match in other aspects of life,” Allmon said. “Whether you practice meditation or not, something about her class leaves everyone in a trance.”