I Went To A Weed And Yoga Class
I'm just going to come right out and say it. My goal since day zero of Donuts + Down Dog to write about a marijuana and yoga class. I have been wildly eager for somebody to invite me to anything, anything, that combined weed and fitness purely to be a spectator to this strange and wondrous combination that is, quite possibly, the most Seattle thing there ever was. Luckily for all of us, a few weeks ago I was invited to a Cannabis and Yoga class at a fancy Seattle shop, Vela Cannabis. To say I was excited would be far understating things.
Because I would like to keep my day job and I coach high school girls that don't necessarily need to read about their coach being stoned in public, I went to Vela as a sober-sally observer. I did contemplate grabbing a quick IPA before class, but I made the mistake of doing that once before and couldn't balance to save my life. In that particular class IPA sweat started gushing out of my body almost immediately, and I reaked of incense and stale beer. Decidedly not cute. I ventured into Vela as a sober onlooker, eager to see what this whole weed and yoga scene was about. My imagination was bouncing off the walls.
I was absolutely, 100%, assuming that I was going to be surrounded by people in this class who were stoned out of their minds. This expectation comes from many years of past experiences teaching yoga to stoned people which, if you are a teacher in the Seattle area, will happen many times during your career. I once had a student show up for an evening candlelight yoga class so stoned that he couldn't write his name on our registration sheet. Had he been by himself I would've probably tried to talk him out of staying for class, but he was with his girlfriend who seemed to find the whole thing charming, so I let them in. He lay glued on his mat for most of class and spent most of the time moving in slow motion. On April 20th last year (HELLO PEOPLE 4/20!!!) I found myself managing a yoga studio. Normal, right? Except we had scheduled a breathing and meditation workshop on 4/20. People were smoking in the changing rooms. People were smoking in the bathroom. PEOPLE WERE SMOKING FULLY CLOTHED IN OUR SHOWERS. When I told this story to a friend recently she assumed I was talking about teens. Youths. People who still have curfews and have mastered the aggressive eye roll. NO. I am talking about adults. People who are parents of the youth of America. People who have enforced said curfews. It was amazing and a hot mess and one of the funnier days of work that I've had... ever.
Before things progress here, there is something that I would like to add. If you are reading this and feeling scandalized by talk of marijuana (the Devil's Lettuce!) then I would like to kindly suggest that perhaps this is not the right corner of the internet for you to hang out in. I live in Seattle. The year is 2018. Weed is legal here and we have rainbow sidewalks. Get over it. I'm not going to spend much trying to justify being ok with marijuana because I put it in the same place that I would put, say, a beer. It is legal where I live. You can be safe or unsafe with it, just like alcohol. Everybody has an opinion on it. My opinion on it is that you should do whatever you damn well please, but don't be an idiot and be mindful of your personal health. Also, I am not particularly articulate when it comes to this topic. If you would like to hear from somebody who is, I recommend doing some Googling. That's it. Moving on.
So anyway, the big night. The night of my blogging dreams. The big coconut. The stinky cheese. I walked in. You may be picturing the kind of venue that would be likely to host a weed and yoga event. Perhaps you are picturing an earthy interior, dread locks, a bra free zone, or the pungent haze of the herb - as your weird uncle calls it. Vela is not that place. In fact, Vela is likely not what comes to mind when you envision a pot shop. Vela is full of clean white lines and tidy displays, so when I walked in I felt more like I was in a spa or a distant (cooler!) cousin of an Apple store. The shelves aren't stocked too tightly, which made me feel like everything that they were selling was there for a specific reason rather than just to fill up space. Vela also has their own rating system of the types of marijuana they sell and how it will make you feel. Wouldn't it be crazy if liquor stores did the same thing? This is Tequila! It will make you want to dance on tables. This is Wine! It will make you want to talk about your feelings and maybe cry. This is Four Loko! It will make you feel like Ke$ha circa 2010 and will make your heart feel like it's going to explode out of your body.
I was immediately welcomed and ushered to the yoga space in the back corner of the shop. I unrolled my mat near a wall and started chatting with the people around me. It felt- gasp!- like any other yoga class. A few of my fellow students asked me to watch their things while they stepped outside to split a joint. Our sweet teacher walked over, introduced myself, and shook my hand. The only real difference was that the people around me were open about the fact that they had smoked before class. The shop manager stood in front of class and gave a quick intro about how the event was designed to teach the community about cannabis (the technical term for the weeds if you are wondering what that word is) and its many uses. We walked about removing outdated attitudes toward marijuana and using weed for medicinal purposes (like CBD for pain relief). She offered herself up after class if we needed any questions and then class began.
All in all class was... absolutely normal. Despite being in a pot shop instead of a yoga studio I truly didn't notice anything different. We skipped a few traditional yoga poses, but that honestly could've been more to teacher preference than the ~alternative~ nature of our surroundings. I felt totally comfortable, had an amazing yoga experience (no whiplash pain, yay!), and went right home afterwards. Would I go again? Yes.
Sadly, Vela shut down last week. It was a wonderful community space that made me feel welcome from the first moment I walked in. I don't know what's on the horizon for Vela, but I hope that whatever is next for them is wonderful. If I found out any updates, I will post theme here!
SHOP YOGA FAVES
Have you ventured to any fun fitness events or taken class in alternative spaces? I am obsessed with out of the ordinary fitness classes, locations, you know it. If you've done something weird, I want to hear about it.
Live long and prosper,