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Yoga and Black Metal: An unlikely pairing?

If you’re not a fan of it, the mention of black metal may bring to mind images of Satanism, murder and burning churches; and the idea of combining it with yoga may be more than a little surprising.

So let me help you out by trying to answer the question:

What does black metal mean to me and why do I think it’s a good fit for yoga?

Black metal will always have a piece of my heart. Since the days when I’d play Immortal’s Damned in Black on the cassette player in my car (so many times that the mid-song pause where the tape switched sides is forever etched in my memory), the characteristic sounds of black metal have always stirred something deep inside me. Moved me in ways no other genre (with the exception classical) has been able.

To the unfamiliar, the sound of it can be reminiscent of a broken radio playing a wash of static in an empty shower cubicle (perhaps with a noisy water heater gurgling and clunking in the background). However; similar to eyes in the night, it just takes time for our senses to sharpen and readjust – for the beauty that’s present in the darkness to reveal itself.

In addition, the experience of seeing it live is an intensity matched by nothing else I’ve witnessed: Feeling the thunder in my chest of a live blast beat while dirty guitars relentlessly assault my ears with their rusty chainsaw treble. Being pressed by a wall of sound, without pause, without air, without room for breath, with no relief until the set is finally over. The whole time, being connected to myself and the world through nothing but raw emotion.

So: If it’s not all devil worship and ritual sacrifice – what exactly is it?

Most of the controversy around black metal originates from the murders and church burnings which occurred around the birth of the genre (technically its ‘second wave’). The extreme actions of these individuals (while critical to defining and developing the genre) is restricted to only a handful of incidents within the time span of a few years; hardly representative of the greater black metal community that exists today. Also, outside of these sensationalised events; the ‘satanic’ image portrayed by many black metal bands is exactly that, an image intended to provoke (similar to what can be found in other genres of metal and rock).

The continued association with satanism is one born out of misunderstanding. It’s not a huge leap of logic (albeit a false one) to go from pagan, to anti-Christian, to Satanic. While paganism and anti-Christian sentiments are commonplace in black metal, this does not automatically indicate Satanism. At the same time, it’s small jumps between connecting with your roots, to identifying with historic traditions, to being proud of your identity, to feeling your understanding of the world is superior to others, to discriminating against and promoting hate towards those who don’t share your roots. Black metal can be this and absolutely everything in between.

However; with 35,325 bands currently categorised under black metal on Metal Archives, it’s safe to say it’s only a small minority which sit at the extremes of religion and racism. The genre has also developed dramatically since the glory days of the late 90s – with subgenres as diverse as you could imagine. Whether black metal is now an ideology, or simply a music genre, is something for the individual to decide.

And: What does it mean to me?

Personally, black metal is symbolic of making a stand against the righteous. Of knowing who you are and what you believe in, and holding onto those beliefs in the face of resistance, oppression, violence and the threat of death. Of not pushing your own beliefs onto others. It is a common story around the world (e.g. in every colonised country) and it just so happens that second wave black metal was born in a culture of Norse/pagan roots, where the persecutors were Christians.

It is a form of expression which allows space for the intensity and full range of raw emotion which exists in us; often suppressed. Which acknowledges the wickedness which exists in human nature; instead of hiding from or ignoring it. It celebrates the sanctity of mother nature, and our historic spiritual connections to the earth.

Lastly; listening to it is sometimes a lesson in sitting with resistance, facing the unknown, persisting, and finding the subtle beauty beneath the surface.

Now: How exactly does that fit with yoga?

Yoga is all about connection. At it’s deepest level, connection with the self (which then facilitates connection with everything outside of ourselves).

To me, yoga is one tool to understand exactly who and what we are – differentiating between what is truly ours and what is conditioned or bestowed upon us by others. Learning to understand ourselves is a core aspect of yoga, and it is only by understanding what we believe in (and constantly questioning whether those beliefs still hold true), that we can truly stand up for ourselves in the face of the righteous.

Yoga is also a lesson in identifying and accepting the truth. In experiencing what is really there; completely, fully, and without shame or judgement. Being unapologetically your true self. Connecting with your raw, unfiltered emotions.

Lastly; like black metal, practising yoga has taught (and continues to teach) me to sit with resistance, face the unknown, persist, and to find the beauty in adversity (mentally, physically and spiritually).

Are they really so incompatible after all?

Don’t turn your back and try to run.
Fall into the chaos, soften into the discomfort.
Let it engulf you, and be open to what it has to offer.
Find beauty amongst the chaos. The chaos in simplicity.
The simplicity of beauty.


To experience Black Metal Yoga, join me in the bunker:
Vol. 1 on the 16. Nov
Regular sessions to start in the new year

Uchi-what-i?

Uchi-komi has different interpretations as its origins lie outside of the taiko world (E.g. Kendo and other martial arts).

The literal translation is along the lines of ‘to hit/beat/strike into’, like striking keys on a keyboard. However, its use outside Japan is mostly restricted to describe repetition training, or ‘drilling’, often with a focus on ‘proper form’ before adding complexity, speed and endurance.

I like to use it as an opportunity to reach/identify and break through the barriers which hold us back in our playing.

As a musical and physical art, taiko barriers come in different shapes. Whether it’s technique, physical fitness or mental grit/determination that’s holding you back – I feel that all of these can be addresed most efficiently with the mindful and steady, rhythmic movements (and 150% effort and attention!) of uchikomi.

My approach is always to play smarter, not harder 😊
(most importantly to save enough energy to have fun and enjoy at the same time 😎)

I’ll be leading a few uchikomi sessions over the next couple of months.
Come join us in the Bunker!
Oct 10. & 24.
Nov 7. & 21.

Back in Berlin: 09 & 10 Nov

Berliners, I’m coming back (and very excited about it)!

I’ll be giving a series of three workshops:

++ Sat 09 Nov ++
12-1400h: Breathing and movement
15-1700h: Connection and communication

++ Sun 10 Nov ++
11-1300h: Maaaaaaaa 🐑 (The space in between)

20€ per session, 50€ for all three.
Come move, flow and grow with me!

For registration email: Lilo @ Iki-Iki-Taiko.de
For more info email me: MoveFlowGrow @ gmail.com
😎😎🥳

I’m coming back, baby!

Reeeeeow!
I’m back in the Bunker next week 😎

Now with alternating weeks of:
– A – 2 hours with me, including 90 min non-stop uchikomi training
– B – 1 hour Wildcard session

Please note the time change:
!! New start time !!
!! 1800h !!
(Latecomers always welcome)

+ Uchikomi sessions with Mel +

30 minute warm-up and off-drum preparation
90 minute non-stop drumming!
With a focus on technique, endurance, and then complexity.
Repetitive, but never boring 😉

+ Wildcard sessions +

60 minutes of off-drum fun.
An eclectic mix of themes; all relevant to taiko players but also helpful for anyone playing along in the game of life 🙂


Upcoming Schedule:

10.10: Uchikomi (30 min prep, 90 min repetition training)
17.10: 1hr Wildcard – TBA*
24.10: Uchikomi
31.10: 1hr Wildcard – TBA*
07.11: Uchikomi
14.11: 1hr Wildcard – TBA*
21.11: Uchikomi
28.11: 1hr Wildcard – TBA*

*Theme to be announced the week before. Click here for session details.

And now for something completely different…

With winter on the way, it’s a good time to bunker down and turn our attention inwards. The perfect time to start, or continue (or re-start) a yoga practice.

Next season I’ll be mixing two more of my passions and offering something unique in Hamburg: Black Metal Yoga.
(Yes you read that right!)

Just a one off for now, but hopefully a weekly occurrence in the new year.
Meeting point: Kiosk Schatzkiste (S-Bahn Alte Wöhr), 1500h.

For updates and offerings, join the group:
www.facebook.com/groups/BlackMetalYoga

++ What to expect? ++
Basically, normal yoga but with no room for judgement, no competition, no bullshit… and with blast beats!
More introspective and about relaxation, connecting with yourself, your body and with the intensity of the music compared to average classes.

I love black metal for this because it’s the subtle shifts and changes beneath all the chaos – that you feel by letting go and surrendering to the flow of it all – where the melody and true beauty lie.
Kind of like life 😉

I take my yoga pretty seriously (with body alignment and safety and the rest of it) – and this is no different – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done with a light heart and a bit of fun.
Kind of like black metal, right? 😉

Meet SpendenRobot

“Hi, my name is SpendenRobot, little brother of GeldAutomata (we’re nothing alike).  Please be kind and feed me, I appreciate every cent.” 

Running sessions by donation is something extremely important to me.  It’s through the kindness and generosity of others that I’ve had some of the amazing opportunities that have made me who I am today.  I am forever grateful to people who understand that teaching isn’t about money, that it’s about enriching the lives of students who want to learn.  To have the chance now, to pass that kindness on to others is an amazing gift – and I never want to let lack of funds hold someone who is keen to learn away from learning.  There are so many worthy currencies other than money. 
 

“A thousand candles can be lighted from the flame of one candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness can be spread without diminishing that of yourself.”

Mahatma Ghandi

Quite the opposite, instead it only makes the world shine brighter.  The same can be said for knowledge as for happiness – and in my opinion, the purpose of collecting knowledge and experience is so it can eventually be passed on to others. 

At the same time, there are of course costs that need to be covered – and this is why I ask that if you are able, to please pay.  It is really your generosity in the end, which allows those less fortunate than you to take part and learn, since without it I wouldn’t be able to open this space for you all. 

So, feed the robot!  Show your appreciation and give back what you can 🙂

Thanks and hope to see you soon 😊
xx 

The stage is set

All session leaders confirmed, schedules finalised, and it’s time to reveal some concrete information!

Extremely proud (and somewhat surprised) to be able to offer this to you all in one weekend.
Move.Flow.Grow’s first Movement and Taiko Weekend: A chance to try something new, improve your skills, see things from a different angle and to meet some like-minded folk.
Embedded within is ‘A Taste of Taiko’: A series of taster workshops with each of the taiko group leaders in Hamburg. A chance to introduce friends to taiko, to try out a different style of teaching/learning, or just to have fun making some rhythm together.

All workshops are run on a pay-as-you-can basis (€10-15 recommended) as I beleive strongly in giving everyone who wants to, the opportunity to learn. All I ask is for your energy, enthusiasm, open heart and open mind – and to please pay if you can (because yes, there are costs to cover).

OOoooeee! See you all soon!
If you’d like to join us, CLICK HERE to register 🙂

(Click click! Full size images will open in a new window)

Where we’ll be (easily accessible by S-Bahn):

Surprise!

Katja from Seevetal, Hamburg

Now for something totally different! 

! Katja Nill ! 

I’ve gotten to know Katja through taiko (as part of the Yo Bachi Daiko performance group) and have also learnt recently that she offers so much more.  It is an honour to have her share her expertise with us during the weekend! 

Katja lives rhythm and music.  Having studied taiko, African drums and dance, jazz and contemporary dance, musical theatre and martial arts, she currently teaches both drumming (African and Japanese) and Nia (a holistic exercise training that combines dance, martial arts and mindfulness to open the body soul and mind to new possibilities). 

I am completely new to Nia and had to do some research, but once I found out more it seemed like such a perfect fit for the weekend.  It is a technique which developed in the early 80’s in the USA and has since spread worldwide.  In Nia, one performs movements in a way that feels good, using intuition and body awareness to guide the way.  It consists of choreographed elements and free movements with an important part played by the music.  The sounds and rhythms support the expression and movement of the body in a harmonious and natural way.  Definitely a workout for the whole being (body mind and soul). 

I’m happy to announce Katja will give a Nia workshop on the Saturday titled on ‘Give Movements Meaning’.  I’m looking forward to trying something new, and I hope you’ll join us too!

Katja teaches weekly taiko, African drumming and Nia classes in Seevetal, Hamburg. 
For more information: https://www.katja-nill.de/

And another!

Oliver of Tama Daiko

The announcements keep rolling in, and with this one the set really is complete.  A little shuffling of the schedule and we’ve somehow made it work!  Introducing to you… 

! Oliver Reichelt !

Involved in the taiko world in Hamburg since 2001 (as part of Tengu Daiko), Oliver is constantly travelling around Europe and Japan for the sake of taiko.  Founding his own dojo in 2006, he continues to pass on the wisdom of his teacher in Japan, Katsuji Kondo, to those in Hamburg through Tama Daiko.  I’m happy to announce that he will give a taster session on the Friday night of the Movement and Taiko Weekend. 

Juhuu!! Now it’s possible to taste all the flavours of Hamburg taiko in one weekend! 😊 

Tama Daiko is based in Barmbek and classes run weekly throughout the year. 
For more information:  www.taiko-hamburg.de, info@tamadaiko.de