Local yoga practitioners Follow Your Bliss believe in getting you really, really relaxed for one of their sessions—at their monthly Ganja Yoga gatherings, attendees are encouraged to smoke up before hitting the mat.
“Are you guys here for the yoga… thing?” I ask two girls outside the elevator of an Adelaide Street condo.
They nod casually, mats slung over their shoulders. No one mentions the pot.
We reach the fourth floor and step into a cavernous, dimly-lit loft, the pungent aroma of cannabis wafting towards us through fabric-cloaked hallways. I suppress the urge to giggle.
As a nascent yogi and casual smoker of the ganga, I’m giddy at the prospect of merging the chic, mom-friendliness of yoga with the illicit, huddling-on-the-back-porch deviancy associated with weed.
We’re greeted by Dee, instructor and owner of the multi-site yoga studio, Follow Your Bliss. In her early thirties, Dee is wearing jeans and a loose sweatshirt, looking fairly blissed out herself. Others drift into the studio at a languid pace, suggesting class starts when everybody feels ready.
Like most yoga classes, the crowd is young, good-looking and predominantly female—though lighter on the Lululemon.
Two of my friends arrive and a white-bearded man with a guitar begins strumming softly.
While I’d imagined posses passing homemade joints (there is a strict BYOB—bring your own bud—policy), we sit in a circle and take turns using a vaporizer, considered a healthier method of smoking. (This is yoga, after all.)
Dee instructs us to view the smoking as part of our yoga practice—a chance to meditate and turn our focus inwards.
As my turn approaches, my more streetwise friend whispers that vaporizers get you “really high.” Feeling slightly anxious about having to do an interview while baked, I take a couple modest tokes.
However, as Dee begins—guiding us in a series of slow, dreamy poses—I’m struck by the disappointing realization that I’m probably not high. The heavy vibes in the dark, smoky room make things inherently weird—though, like, in a good way.
I try to “do what my body tells me,” as Dee suggests, opting for backbends instead of forward folds. I discover that cat stretch feels more satisfying than usual, and that downward dog is less punishing.
I find I’ve stopped listening to Dee’s instructions—largely because I know everyone’s too high to judge me—and eventually I’m sort of rolling around in a ball, chastising myself for not smoking more. Am I high?
The practice winds down, and Dee apologizes if we’ve gone over time, as she often gets caught up in the “psychadelic journeying.” Fair enough.
We’re encouraged to stick around and smoke more, but my friends decline; one reveals she got too high and spent the first 20 minutes panicking about contracting oral herpes.
I linger and chat with Dee, who admits she was a “late bloomer,” having only started smoking pot at age 27. She began the ganga classes three years ago.
“It’s a good lubricator to get people in the mood to relax,” the says. “Ganga shows you how true bliss states can feel.”
As for the legal implications, Dee says she has never had any problems.
She adds with a laugh: “That would be a story—like, the cops are going to bust a bunch of peaceful yogis?”
When I confess my regrets about not getting stoned, she responds, in classic yogi fashion: “You could look at it like, ‘Aw, I didn’t get high,’ or, you could let and go and think, ‘I’m not high, but that was a good restorative class’ and milk it for what it was—look at the silver lining.”
I am soothed, and head into the hallway, where someone’s giving away chocolate.
For more information on Ganja Yoga and other specialized workshops, visit the Follow Your Bliss website.