Black Metal Yoga: Behind the Movement–Meet Alissa Nelson

I first met Alissa Nelson and the woman behind Black Metal Yoga when I started teaching at The Yoga Harbor in Torrance. We took a 50-hour teacher training class together and (from my perspective) pretty much hit it off in the first class.

Alissa struck me immediately as thoughtful, smart and tuned in.  In our training, she asked questions that I hadn’t thought about as we worked through creative sequencing. She had a similar body-centric approach to her practice and her teaching and was coming back from a hamstring injury that had laid her up. She came up with this innovative way to work through a Vinyasa without doing down dog.  I loved it and was immediately drawn to her.

Alissa is one of those rare folks who’s professional life and personal life align. As it turns out, she has a Masters in Neuroscience, Public Health and Social Work. She teaches person-centric yoga–meaning that like me, she welcomes all ages, body types, gender identities, abilities and races–to her classes. And her classes kick ass.

She combines a very carefully curated selection of music that you have likely never heard of with a strong, stable, challenging flow. She curates an entire yoga experience in each of her classes,  as she says to “get to the core of yoga and build the resiliency to do difficult things and to tackle parts of the status quo — either internally or environmentally — that cause harm.”  Her goal, is to shine a light on dark places and love the dark as well as the light.

Alissa’s Offering Zine.

A lot of what we do on the mat works towards sitting with our discomfort and dis-ease–whether it’s physical or emotional and Alissa’s practice and teaching helps students find a way to be with their own discomfort without running away from it. Alissa is open about her own discomfort and struggles and recently put together a stellar zine (or she’ll send you a printed version) on telling your trauma story.

In it Alissa unveils the tremendous trauma she faced just a few years ago and uses her own disclosure as a way to lead readers along a path to heal, no matter how big that trauma is.

Having lived through my own trauma I found her Offering incredibly inspiring. It turns the lens of a traumatic experience into something that can be a connector and a way to grow, rather than turning it something that restricts and binds. It offers actionable steps to take when and if you choose to start your journey.

Outside of the studio, Alissa works in public health to improve outcomes for under-served and under-represented communities all over Souther California. She combines her passion for doing good, with whip-smart intelligence and her good heart and spirit to ease the trauma of others while doing good in the world.

Alissa and Abby
Alissa and I teach yoga teacher trainings together at The Yoga Harbor in Torrance.

Alissa, her work, and her Black Metal Yoga are some of My Favorite Things.

If you want to take a class with Alissa, check out her regular schedule, here.

If you can’t make it to one of her public classes, she teaches regular workshops around Los Angeles. You can check out her schedule, here.

Make sure you follow her on Instagram, here.



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