I Did Bend + Blaze Yoga. You Should, Too.Christina CassenJune 5, 2018
Maroney incorporates cannabis into her personal flow sequence, and now offers a special session for students to explore and embrace the same. In 2016, Maroney launched Bend + Blaze, a class where yogis can openly consume cannabis along with their instructor-led vinyasa flow. Maroney is third generation San Franciscan, a unicorn really… (S.F. born-and-bred is a rare breed indeed.) True to her roots, Bend + Blaze is hosted regularly in San Francisco and Los Angeles. This past May, I checked it out.
Here’s my true account.
Arriving on my mat, I am greeted with a complementary Lucky Box, a gift that each attendee receives from luxury cannabis subscription delivery service Lucky Box Club (Maroney’s side hustle, if you will). My box contains pre-rolls, vape pens, tinctures and topicals, with which you can medicate before and during class. I am ready to “delve deeper into the conscious self and stretch/dance/move and expand our minds, relax and unwind.”
“The Cannabis Yogi,” Maroney (we’ll call her TCY) begins class by encouraging attendees to “connect with your own body, your own soul, your own spirit,” while reminding us to use less cannabis than we normally use. I am grateful for this reminder because I have been known to get a little too high before yoga… This time, though, I need to be able to produce an intelligible recap. I get appropriately lifted.
TCY translates a reading into a beautiful, flowery language for someone in the back row. I learn that Maroney is Brazilian and speaking Portuguese for her “family, who are here today.” My heart warms hearing that our class is a family affair.
TCY plays edgy music, more uplifting and energizing than the sedative stuff yogis flow to in most classes.
After some rousing cat-cow, I feel grateful and connected to Maroney. She instructs us to rise to standing, notices that I’m taking a pull from my vape pen, and clarifies for the class, “maybe you rise with a vape pen in your mouth; yeah!” I am convinced that Maroney is my new bff.
I think to myself, “I love her big, happy energy,” I also think, “I am high!” and, when I peek at the other attendees I’m relieved to find that they look like I feel. We are high, all of us.
Asked to “feel your rhythm,” I feel playful like a child.
My transition back to tabletop is less than graceful, and I have a flashback to childhood, a familiar feeling of crawling around and babbling like a goofball. I chuckle to myself.
At the start of sun salutations, I rise to standing, darkness closes in on my vision. Uh-oh, I might pass out. Deep breath, pause, I get it together and then a couple sun salutations later, Maroney, shares that it’s normal to feel dizzy. She is my new bff and current most trusted medical advisor. (“Oh good,” I think, “the others are maybe showing the same less-than-lucid signs as me.”)
We pick up the pace and move through four, five, six sun salutations, some modified with holds in positions like plank, and then proceed to do ab and glute work. I wasn’t expecting an actual workout in this class? Maroney, my new bff, trusted medical advisor, and now psychic, says we are almost done with the workout section. Whew!
Downward dog, paranoia rears its ugly head. I thought I recognized an ex-boyfriend a couple rows behind me and freaked out. I admit, it would be impressive if I correctly identified someone while upside down, high, and seeing the back of their head.
I make my best bow pose ever.
My new bff, trusted medical advisor, and psychic encourages attention to our breath, the source of life itself, to feel the energy we are generating. Maroney discusses this life and our culture, we are taught to be small, but she encourages us to be acutely aware of our energetic presence as we perform a pose that amplifies our size and expresses our big nature.
We’re instructed to relax our tongues. I surprise myself by opening my mouth and letting my tongue loll out. Cannabis has stripped away my ego.
“Calm your mind, relax… think about this… and that…”
I am getting mixed up, so I tune her out for a little while and watch a bird building its nest outside the studio window. Hard at work, without a care in the world other than its natural instinct to build and create and protect its young. Le sigh.
My awareness floats back into the room and I am the only one standing in tree pose. Class is resting in child’s pose. I transition to the floor.
During warrior poses, I notice the woman next to me seems unsure, perhaps she is not familiar with yoga in general, and I think to myself “you got it, girl!” Cannabis fosters empathy. Maroney quotes a previous student: “sometimes a yoga sequence is like Ikea; the only way out is THROUGH. Hang in there!”
It’s been an infinity in chair pose, Maroney, my new bff, trusted medical advisor, psychic, and now therapist tells us “the hard part is over.” I get tears in my eyes. I have a particular feeling that I want life’s “hard part” to be over, wondering what the hard part of life even is, and how that will feel when “it” is over. I contemplate: what is death?
Maroney ends with sound meditation. She asks us to “sense the vibrations—your own vibration, the city’s vibration, the vibration of the earth.” She plays a bowl that sends powerful sound waves around the room and through our very beings. Her own angelic chanting sends me to another place as I meditate on her words:
“Everything that is and ever was is inside you … be aware of your heart and connect with your light. Your light shines brighter when you begin to peel away the layers of stress, drama and conditioning that we all have.”
My new bff etc. etc. softly nudges us from corpse pose to bring our awareness back into the room, and introduce movement to our fingers and toes (I have fingers and toes?).
I’m sure that I briefly left Earth, but the closing OM after class is grounding and brings me back, anew and refreshed, more contemplative and compassionate. I am grateful for having attended this elevated yoga class, a spiritual and meditative experience. I leave Bend + Blaze in a state of bliss way higher than cloud nine.
I often can hardly speak after a medicated yoga class and this one is no exception. It takes me a little while to gather myself before I am able to coherently talk to Maroney (who has returned to being The Cannabis Yogi, with all her other superpowers, of course). She is patient and present with me, and I am honored to write this piece about her and the impact of her offering, educating consumers about this incredible plant.
Why Bend + Blaze? From TCY herself: “Meditation, emotional cleansing and conscious movement is much more important than the physical stretches and poses. Unfortunately, social media platforms have taken the world by storm by showing thin, long, lanky girls doing near-impossible backbends and inversions that would leave the rest of us in hospitals. My hope is to give people a chance to have a conscious experience in which they re-discover their body with newly opened eyes!”
The next Bend + Blaze is in S.F. on June 16. Instructors take note: Maroney’s also partnered with the prestigious Soho House in L.A. to teach private classes to the country’s most influential yogis. Describing her “labor of love,” Maroney’s dream is a studio where she can “teach cannabis yoga three times per week, to provide people with safe access to cannabis, and allow students the freedom to try new things.”
Let freedom ring, fellow enthusiasts. Cannabis + yoga = yessss.