Health

Embrace the Offensive: PVD’s Tara Morris finds catharsis through hot power yoga

On a cold December morning, Tara Morris opened her hot power yoga class with the words, “Today’s my mom’s birthday; she would’ve been 81.” Morris’ mother Maryann passed away in September 2020 after battling Parkinson’s for 27 years. 

“It was so brutal,” says Morris. “So fucking brutal to watch a big, strong woman lose all dignity like that.” 

Morris shares these painful truths and goes on teaching, holding Instagramable poses, telling us not to focus on where it hurts but to focus on where it feels good, to admit to ourselves we aren’t “total pieces of shit.”

The Love Offensive takes place in Olneyville, in a room adorned with floor-to-ceiling Aaron Santos murals. Composed of broad yet precisely layered brushstrokes, the murals bolster Morris’ energy – they are vibrant yet calming, depicting black-and-white snapshots set against sprawling scenic spaces; they are disparate and apart until seen from a new angle, and then what seemed at odds morphs into a harmonious blanket of time. The murals engage you, they make you think, just like Morris.

“Every single class, everything that comes out of my mouth, I’m just talking to myself,” says Morris. “I’m not saying anything I know for certain and have a leg up on someone, I’m literally trying to save my own life. I’ve got ruminating thoughts and this ridiculous absolute lack of self-worth… I’m a rage-fest, ya know, and I’m trying to spin it positively. It’s the hand I was dealt. This is what I look like. This is what my life looks like.”

Morris opened The Love Offensive in 2020 after quitting her job and running a successful GoFundMe campaign that raised $54k in 45 days from 175 unique donors. Now she teaches the class she always wanted to take: really hot, really hard yoga.

On special occasions Morris uses cannabis tincture as part of her personal practice – important detail here: her personal practice, not her studio teachings; for her teachings, she is fully caffeinated. She bounces around the room, stopping here and there to demonstrate intricate poses with ease. She flits from side to side, back to front cursing, pushing you, not letting you off the hook. Her teachings are a challenge, an interrogation; they dare you to trust yourself. There’s no try, only do. She says, “You can do it but you have to make the choice.” She believes in you. 

“We’re so fucking lucky, that’s the lesson I learned from my mom. She wasn’t like Yoda, she wasn’t like, ‘Tara, you see I am the Buddhist tradition of non-self…’ no, she just knew she had to split Parkinson’s in her mind, she had to make it a mountain to climb every day rather than a defeat. She didn’t have a career or anything, she was a manager at a storage unit place and this is what she did with her life: actively meet the worst fate with balls, just absolute fucking balls. And that’s what I teach in my class, because of her, with her really.” 

“The artist fire is who I am. Sometimes it makes me so fuckin sideways but it’s my fuel. I’m not content and I never will be and I never have been. I have a fucking rage inside of me and sometimes I appreciate it and sometimes I don’t and at the end of the day I think I like it more than I hate it, so it’s staying, which is wonderful news for self-acceptance.”

Morris began integrating cannabis into her personal practice when she found herself in the grips of a debilitating anxiety attack and the thought occurred to her, “I could smoke pot and go to yoga, I know people who do that.” So she did. Opting for whole plant infusion tincture because it’s healthier than smoking, Morris found cannabis gave her the space to ease her anxiety and settle her mind, it gave her the breath she needed to find the present moment and recall her good fortune: her able body and the supportive community that made her dream her reality. 

“Whatever chemistry is happening [with cannabis], the sensations are enhanced and it makes the practice come alive… like how music and food sound and taste better, it’s more interesting in that way, it’s more emotional, more of a release; it takes everything that’s good about yoga and dials it up.”

At the end of class, everyone is red-faced and dripping with sweat and Tara wants to know how we feel. We say we are not losers. We did it. We worked hard. We gave. We dug. We faced ourselves. We are thankful.

It’s easy to hate on yoga: its ubiquity, those rubber mats, that neon lycra. But if you need the comfort of a challenge, embrace The Love Offensive. Or don’t. As Morris says, “Everyone who’s not in on doing yoga, they’re sick of hearing it, just like anyone would be. And the people who love it – who’ve found emotional freedom from the habits of the mind, from the suffering of the mind – we can’t say enough good things about it.”

For more information on The Love Offensive, including Morris’ upcoming yoga retreats, visit theloveoffensive.com. For more information on cannabis tincture, speak to a retail associate at your preferred cannabis dispensary.

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