Long before marijuana became legit in the eyes of the Golden State, one only needed to step foot onto the Venice boardwalk in order to associate the waft of weed with yoga-practicing beach bohemians. While mixing ganja-powered sun salutations is nothing new, living in the age of legal MJ means we can now puff-puff and partake in activities without awkwardly trying to hide our highness. (We've all been there.)
Enter Bend & Blaze, a cannabis-powered yoga workout led by wellness and weed enthusiast Eliza Maroney — who also just happens to be the co-founder of Lucky Box Club, which is essentially the pot version of your favorite boxed subscription service. Maroney's classes are beloved in northern California, where she leads seshes in San Francisco and Sacramento. On a recent sunny Saturday, we and a handful of other LA editors rose to the challenge and did our best downward dogs while under the influence, and at a picturesque poolside patio with ocean views, no less.
Full disclosure: We are no strangers to tree poses and THC (that's tetrahydrocannabinol, a.k.a. the compound that gets you high). Surprisingly, it actually never occurred to us that mixing both together could yield such blissful results. We dig yoga for its ability to focus our minds on the present, just like smoking a joint makes us hyperaware of the moment (for better or for worse) at hand.
The workout started like this: After mingling and and fueling up on MatchaBar drinks and Root Origins' CBD water, we claimed our yoga mat and popped open our hexagon-shaped Lucky boxes and explored the goods. The luxury subscription service features not just high vibe-giving products (like edibles, vape pens, and extracts), but wellness products like stress-reducing bath bombs, pain relief roll-ons, healing patches, and more. The best part? It's all curated by Lucky Box Club's "CBD sommeliers", so you know everything you're getting is dank.
Given that our recreational use is fairly infrequent, we opted for a couple of short vape hits of Pure One's lemon haze sativa, which boasts a cool 79.8% THC. Translation: It was just enough to get us rolling deep into our flows while soaking up the fresh breeze of the West Hollywood hills and the sounds of the palm tree leaves rustling above our heads. (Maybe next time we'll reach for the Mendocino County-bred Henry's Original joints.)
Needless to say, even the newbie yogis were chilled the eff out during our 10-second plank positions. Okay, more like five seconds — Maroney pulled a fast one and cleverly skipped a few counts, much to the amusement of anyone who noticed.
Now, we're not saying that if your stress level is off the charts, then you should hotbox your car before your next sweat sesh. Clearly we're not doctors, but it's worth mentioning that marijuana affects each person differently and that you should use your best judgment when using psychoactive products. (Our lawyers can rest easy now.)
Following the relaxation session, we caught up with Maroney to find out what inspired her and her husband to create the subscription box, the roles that yoga and cannabis play in her life, if she plans on bringing her NorCal-faved workout to LA's fitness fiends, and more — read all about it below.
Tell us more about your path to becoming a yogi — what attracted you to the practice and what inspired you to become a teacher?
Yoga helps me be a better person. I first tried was introduced to yoga when I was a teenager in school. My high school was pretty progressive in its philosophy regarding "physical education" — it offered dance, yoga, pilates and a myriad of other offerings in place of the dreaded "P.E." that most high schoolers know.
I loved taking time to breathe, feel what's going on within, and assess what needed more or less attention within my body AND spirit.
How has cannabis played a role in your life, and can you describe your first experience? How has your personal usage evolved?
My relationship with cannabis has always been an interesting one. I tried so many other drugs before herb, which is really quite backward for this day in age. Coming from a party girl perspective, I thought "weed was smelly" and that was about it. I didn't have any prejudices, but I also didn't particularly like the concept of smoking it. I was in my early 20s when I first began using cannabis, and it was to work through PTSD from abusive relationships and situations that my previous drug use had put me through. I was awakened, if you will, by this beautiful plant. It changed me in so many ways! All of a sudden, I was no longer afraid to go to sleep, my day-to-day activities felt less arduous, and my heart slowly but surely began to open again.
My now-husband, then-boyfriend, was a cultivator and introduced me to the different types of flowers and strains — giving me some much-needed education on how to use what and why. I'm grateful I had a guide and now I feel that it's one of my callings to help guide others in this wacky world of weed that's being over-commercialized and under-taught about.
What was the "a-ha" moment that that inspired you to create a cannabis-powered yoga class? What was the initial response like from participants?
There wasn't quite an a-ha moment that helped me created a cannabis-centered class. From the time I began using the plant medicine, I applied it to my own practice. I'd lead my own classes and most of my girlfriends and attendees would smoke beforehand simply because the classes were on a pretty size-able pot farm (our previous property). It felt natural, not forced. Everyone went deeper, and everyone benefitted from using plant medicine to help relax, relief and BREATHE a bit easier.
I do remember, however, completing my yoga teacher program to enhance my practice and prepare me to take things further. When I mentioned my intention to host cannabis-infused classes, people responded one of three ways: They were ecstatic and inspired by the idea, they were judgey and thought that it was a joke, [or] they didn't quite know what it meant!
I was driven by the latter two to create a program that offers a safe space for the canna-curious just as much as for the cannabis-lovers in the world.
Now bringing it to mainstream, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I have yet to hear that someone has had an unsatisfactory experience — knock on wood. The students make it truly special, we hold space for others to learn and grow as they flow.
What's the story behind Lucky Box Club — How did it get started and what sparked the idea?
My husband and I knew that a shift was coming in the industry and we wanted to create a platform that would help promote small, craft farmers and manufacturers! It's been a dream come true. So many people recognize our efforts and it's a pleasure representing such amazing companies.
We know you currently lead Bend & Blaze classes up in northern California — any chance you'll officially bring it to LA?
I'd love to! It's just a matter of finding the right studio or space and creating a following that will support me traveling!
Lastly, what's your best advice for beginning bud users looking to enhance their yoga experience with weed?
START SLOW. Talk with a budtender or better yet, reach out to Lucky Box Club for a consultation! If we can't get you what you need, we'll know where to send you along with some recommendations on what to look for.
Follow Eliza Maroney at @thecannabisyogi, and learn more and subscribe to LuckyBoxClub here.