What It's Like To Go To Weed Yoga
A studio in San Francisco offers a semi-weekly "ganja yoga" class. Here's what happens when you blaze it and then bend it.
Jess: I moved to San Francisco two months ago, and I'm still trying to soften some of my rough New York edges. In the name of assimilating, I've been trying to do as many stereotypical Bay Area things possible. I've eaten at a gluten free paleo restaurant in Berkeley. I've hung out with Tech Bros at startup parties. But last week, I did probably the most San Francisco thing I've ever done: WEED YOGA.
"Ganja yoga" is exactly what it sounds like: everyone in the class spends 15 minutes getting high together — you can smoke a joint or a bowl, or vape, or consume edibles — and then everyone does a 75-minute yoga class together. (Participants have to have a medical marijuana card issued by the state of California.)
Mathew: I'm NorCal born-and-raised and have been living in SF for about five years now. I got my medical marijuana prescription when I was 18 and have been getting it renewed every year.
Honestly, I've been a little stoned for pretty much every yoga class I've gone to as an adult. So naturally, I was quite excited about doing a yoga class where I didn't have to hide the fact that I was blazed when I arrived. Then, unbeknownst to me, we could even smoke and vape DURING the class.
Jess: We climbed upstairs to the class, which is held in an art studio in SoMa. People were already milling around smoking, and the room was already starting to get kind of a hotbox vibe. As they blazed, a guy scanned our ID and medical marijuana cards and then handed us each a free joint. I have never had this happen at Crunch Gym before!
Inside the yoga room, about 10 people had already laid their mats down and were sitting in small groups, talking quietly and smoking or vaping. A woman handed us free samples of her company's weed-infused caramel popcorn, which I decided NOT to try, lest I have a Maureen Dowd moment in the middle of a crow pose.
Mathew: Yeah, I didn't eat any of the weed popcorn either. Edibles aren't always good to me, and I wasn't going to risk a messy situation around my soon-to-be good friends.
Once in the main room, we left our bags and socks in the designated areas and put down our mats. We had to split up because of space, so I said I'd be happy to take my place in the back corner of the room, which the teacher informed me was "the worst spot, because of the breeze."
Luckily the breeze wasn't too strong and didn't prevent my lighter from working.
Jess: Doing yoga while high sounds like it should feel natural, like being drunk while sending texts you will regret. But I honestly felt a little like a wobbly baby giraffe trying to even do warrior one. The first 15 minutes of class were mostly vinyasa flow, and even trying to follow a short sequence of asanas, which I can usually do with no trouble, felt insanely arduous to my brain.
Mathew: I was pretty cold during the first 15 minutes, and was distracted wondering if it was socially acceptable to wear socks while doing yoga? I wanted to commit to the experience, so I made a deal with myself not to take a ton of smoke breaks. I eyed my pipe sitting right next to my yoga mat, and wished that I'd toked more before class started. Seriously, I wasn't high enough for this.
The poses were good, I didn't break a sweat or anything, but like Jess I struggled a bit to focus. I tried staring at one spot on the wall in front of me, but it was adorned with guns and animal heads. Which were rather distracting, and seemed like an odd choice of decor.
Jess: At one distinct moment during child's pose, I remember thinking, "I AM ONE WITH THE MAT. I AM ONE WITH THE GROUND. THE GROUND IS ME." That is when I decided to stop hitting the vape.
Mathew: I was getting pretty bored. I'd thought ahead and put an ashtray next to my mat, so while Jess was becoming one with the ground I snuck in another bowl. I held each inhale as long as I could desperately hoping I'd get in the zone. Eyes on the prize, I thought, as I exhaled and stared into the eyes of one of the bears on the front wall.
Jess: Being semi-high during a yoga class had two main benefits for me. First, it helped with my breathing. I'm not super great at keeping my focus on ujjayi, but I found that during this class, it was much easier to remain grounded and keep my mind on my inhale and exhale.
Second, class went by in a SNAP. I tend to get bored during yoga classes that are longer than an hour, but the second half of this one felt like it was only five minutes long. Thanks, cannabis!
I have to say though: I slept like a baby on Ambien that night.
So Mathew, would you go back to weed yoga?
Mathew: Maybe. But probably not. I think weed yoga is the type of thing that's fun to do every once in a while, but unless I'm entertaining an out-of-town guest with a medical card, I'll probably stick to smoking and doing stretches at home.
That being said, the class is great for beginners or anyone curious about yoga who might be more likely to try a class if you can smoke weed during it.