It is becoming more and more accepted all the time that cannabis and exercise go hand in hand. Gone are the days when there were stigmas about cannabis making you lazy, or smoking making it impossible to work out. Now, cannabis is a part of many exercise routines, including, for many, yoga. That is why Stacey Mulvey founded Marijuasana, a movement that is all about staying healthy and fit while enjoying cannabis. CULTURE asked her a few questions about how she started her program, and what cannabis and fitness mean to her.
How did you first discover yoga, and what drew you to it?
I’ve practiced yoga on and off since college. But, the genuine discovery began once I made a serious commitment to a regular practice, after coming to the realization that I was living an unhealthy lifestyle that was causing me undue pain. Once I committed to a practice and knew that I could change my body, I couldn’t go back to being unaccountable for my own health and pain levels.
What got you interested in cannabis? Did you discover it from a recreational or medical perspective?
I’d tried cannabis a few times prior, but my serious involvement with cannabis began after I found an amazing group of friends that smoked a lot of weed on a very regular basis. I became a complete enthusiast. I found that regular consumption allowed me to cope emotionally with problems I was going through during a really rough transition in my life. Cannabis helped me identify and process difficult feelings spurred by an emotionally turbulent time. I started experimenting with yoga after consuming cannabis and noticed how good it felt. So, I guess you could say that initially I was introduced to cannabis recreationally, but it quickly turned medicinal because of the way it addressed not only the pain and tension in my physical body, but also my emotional self.
What lead you to this point in your career, and what inspired you to combine cannabis and yoga into a practice?
I’m a person with varying interests and creative pursuits, which means I’ve worked in lots of different roles in several different fields. I’ve been a Genius and Visuals Specialist at Apple, an event organizer, a bartender, a Pilates teacher, a community manager for a cannabis travel agency and more. I’ve counted, and I’ve literally held over 60 different jobs. My most recent role as founder of Marijuasana is a result of honing in on what I’m passionate about and what I feel confident presenting to the world. My training and background in Pilates, and other forms of mindful movement, allows me to be comfortable as a teacher. My familiarity with the cannabis industry gives me a greater understanding of how to combine the two. This is a huge opportunity and the time is now.
What will people learn from your classes? What is their benefit?
People will learn to experience their bodies from within, with the aid of the unique imagery that I provide during classes. They’ll learn about cannabinoids like CBD and the healing properties CBD provides by increasing circulation and reducing inflammation. Many experience enhanced recovery time and reduction in soreness after using the body in novel ways, ways you’re not used to. Increased blood flow also increases tone in the muscles.
I’m very hopeful that they’ll come away from the class having experienced a state of flow. Flow is a western psychological concept, coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which refers to being completely immersed in an activity for its own sake. This idea correlates quite well to the upper three limbs of yoga. Besides the physical effects, the psychological effects are significant. You can feel flow states for days afterward.
They’ll also learn that there are many types of people who enjoy cannabis, young and old, black, white, gay and straight. Meeting different types of people who consume cannabis paves a way for acceptance and understanding.
How does cannabis enhance your life and your creative process?
Cannabis hyper-primes your brain, allowing you to draw connections to things you wouldn’t normally. It also increases blood flow to the right hemisphere, the side of the brain linked to the creative process. The implications for activities like painting or writing are obvious, but most of us wouldn’t necessarily make the connection that yoga involves creativity. In fact, every point in our bodies is mapped out in our brains. When you’re able to sense your physical self in novel ways and explore new sensations, you’re more likely to draw connections to parts of yourself in ways you may not have done previously.
In Marijuasana, I give cues rich with imagery, so you can start visualizing your movement in new ways, and thereby change your experience. After classes, I’ve had several people come up and disclose that they were finally able to feel their core or access muscles that were previously elusive to them. Those new associations will inspire alternative ways of looking at the world and expand consciousness.
What would you say to someone who loves cannabis but is skeptical about exercise, or to a yoga enthusiast who doesn’t smoke?
As citizens of the First World, we’re killing ourselves due to lack of exercise. Our posture is terrible because our lifestyles require us to sit all day and look down too often. This is a serious epidemic. Most of us have an enormous deficit, in regards to the amount of physical exercise we need to counteract the detrimental patterns that form in the body. In fact, you should stand up right now and do something to stretch and move, seriously. All of us, including cannabis enthusiasts, should take this to heart and supplement our lifestyles with regular exercise. Fortunately for those who love cannabis, exercise, especially yoga or other forms of mindful movement, pairs perfectly with cannabis because of the miraculous endocannabinoid system. You’ll find that you have more endurance, less pain, and more motivation to stick to it once you start moving.
For the yogis that don’t smoke, I suggest trying a full spectrum hemp extract like Bluebird Botanicals. Most people who don’t smoke dislike the intoxicating effects of THC. It’s their reason for abstaining. However, you can still nourish the endocannabinoid system and experience the benefits that cannabinoids give the body without experiencing the high.
How do you feel about legalization so far? What could be done better or differently?
I’ve been working in cannabis for almost two years and it bothers me that there are very few people of color at the “industry” level. This is ridiculous. Our society has been incarcerating minorities for growing the plant that started our civilization, and these rich white people in suits are acting like we just discovered it. One of the key arguments for legalization, when it comes up as a voter initiative, is that our society suffers when we criminalize people for a plant that causes zero actual harm to humans. People vote for legalization and when it passes we think we’re done and the “fight” is over. It’s not. We need to stay aware of our privilege if we’re white, and we need to stay mindful of aspects of legalization like social use and fair business practices.
It’s important to be mindful that this is a medicine many people truly need. People are growing cannabis to enhance well-being and treat debilitating diseases. That’s the element of cannabis that will ultimately overcome the stigma and resistance towards this special type of plant medicine. I’ll continue to advocate for legalization. It’s my hope that we keep the plant in the hands of people who need it.
What do you envision for the future of your career?
I’d like to see the mainstream yoga and fitness community embrace cannabis, and I’d like to be a pioneer in fostering that change in attitude. Perhaps we’ll always be viewed as a fringe element in the movement world, but I believe that cannabinoids are an essential aspect of our nutrition as humans, both in the physiological sense and for the health of our consciousness.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to elaborate a bit more about flow states achieved in cannabis infused yoga. Flow is when you lose ego. One thing perfectly flows into the next and your whole being is engaged. Csikszentmihalyi used jazz as his example of flow, specifically the way jazz musicians become completely absorbed by music and time seems to fall away while they align with the rhythm.
Cannabis’ influence on jazz is well known. I’d like to suggest that yoga is the new jazz. Our bodies vibrate and resonate like instruments. We can have poorly tuned bodies due to lack of tone, or we can tune them with our mindful engagement and concentration on movement. We use cannabis to enhance our somatic experience and to become more in touch with the internal states of our bodies.