I must begin by noting that I have tried yoga a total of three times. I’m born and raised in Los Angeles, and it’s just a thing Angelenos do. But all of those three times, I detested the way my hips had to expand to achieve Downward Dog or the way I imagined I looked when I would participate in sun salutations. It could also have to do with the fact that yoga has become so trendy and I am, by nature, a contrarian.
But when I received an email inviting me to a cannabis yoga classes dubbed Bend and Blaze, I learned that the only thing I am more passionate about than my distaste for yoga is my love for cannabis. This is not to say that I ignored my preference for the elliptical over the mat, I immediately hit accept because I knew there would be weed there. The unpleasantries of long stretches was a sacrifice I was willing to make to experience cannabis in a new way.
That Saturday, I drove through the canyon and into the Beverly Hills mountains. The address provided was a home—or perhaps more appropriately, a McMansion—that looked from the outside like it could have very well been the site of an ‘80s porn film. This looks nothing like my previous yoga experiences, ruled by a wide room, with a succulent and macrame. The McMansion was stark white, finished with harsh silver lines and two oversized steel doors. I questioned whether or not I got the location wrong, until a perky woman in leggings and a sports bra heard my knocks.
Once I made it past the barricade, I stepped into a sort of alternate universe where my thoughts of the world’s fast moving end (Thank you, Trump) and the painfully hot weather evaporated at the sight of a 360 view of my hometown and a perfectly blue pool below an acrylic staircase. A bevy of 20-something women stood around giggling in their cutest yoga gear, surrounded by untouched plates of fruit and pastries next to canned matcha tea and hemp-infused water. At the very end of the table sat a solid black hexagonal box with gold trim. I looked inside to find various CBD-THC combinations—joints, a vape and a dropper, among other trinkets.
“Oh no. Weed is the new kale,” I whispered to myself. In the same breath, a woman’s arm reached in front of me to grab one of the box’s joints. She lit it and passed it to me before announcing that we should get the class started. “We’re running late,” she said. As the joint made its way around the backyard, I reluctantly followed the small crowd to yoga mats as I debated how I could get out of the yoga portion of this cannabis yoga class. And then I saw the same hexagonal box full of cannabis on my mat for my personal enjoyment, making it an easier decision to stay and tough it out.
The woman who lit the debut joint that day, Eliza Maroney, made her way to the front of the class. She settled into child’s pose on her recycled eco-conscious mat (did you know most yoga mats are really bad for the environment?). She talked about getting “lifted” instead of getting “high” for this class. “If you usually smoke a joint, take only a couple of hits. I want you to still be able to move,” she said as the backyard scattered with laughter and a haze wafted above the skyline.
Maroney, however, is more than just a yoga teacher and cannabis lover, she’s also an entrepreneur. She and her husband, Luke Maroney, are behind that black box full of cannabis products that, truthfully, made my day. Lucky Box Club is a subscription service that gives consumers the opportunity to “get lifted”, as our instructor would say, without having to visit a dispensary. The box’s treats contain more CBD (non-psychoactive cannabinoid) than THC (what gets you high), which just so happens to deliver a more functional buzz that is perfect for physical activities like Eliza’s touring yoga classes.
As she completed her introduction to what would be a vinyasa-yin combination, I came to feel that familiar tingle come over me. At the same time, I forgot about my dread for the vinyasa-yin combination stretches that were to come. We started with Mountain Pose—which by the way, is just a fancy way of saying “stand up straight, arms at your sides”—before swiftly moving into Downward Facing Dog, Cobra, Plank, Triangle, Child’s Pose and Warrior. Then our fierce leader began to chant an angelic chant, harmonizing with a singing bowl’s hymns.
I wish I could describe the actual movements that the class incorporated more in depth, but I was stoned and a byproduct of getting stoned (or “lifted” or “high” or whatever) is that memories sort of swirl together. What I do remember is how I felt: Beyond the sweat beading down my face, I was present. I could feel each joint locking and unlocking, lengthening and folding. And during our water breaks (there were a lot, thankfully), I caught glimpses of the people surrounding me. They were lifted too. There was, dare I say, an energy—an infectious, calming energy. The people behind me and next to me and in front of me were also completely present and we moved together—and in a world when we’re glued to our phones, and the news, and our regrets, that is damn hard to find.
“Is this what yoga is supposed to feel like? Am I a yogi now?” I thought to myself. “Oh, shit.”