Why People Workout With Weed

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“Shoot me in the foot if I ever become a yogini,” Aaliyah Ei, an L.A.-based model and cannabis educator, recalls saying a few years ago. A self-described “total crust punk,” Ei began working for a yoga clothing line and reluctantly started their practice. "I was getting high kind of just to endure it, but then realized that it really did help in body awareness,” Ei says. “Here I am, very deep in my practice years later."

Ei is hardly alone when it comes to working out with weed. Jacki Ortega, a yoga instructor in Boston, teaches a variety of classes featuring cannabis and CBD several times a week. Her clients run the spectrum, including both people who are new to yoga but already consume cannabis, and yogis who aren’t as familiar with it. “I feel like I’m opening up a new niche, bringing yoga and cannabis wellness into people’s lives,” Ortega says.

Weed makes a compelling case for itself in the workout world. Abby Gould, a former athlete who works at dosist in L.A., will vape before exercising to key into cannabis’s meditative benefits. “It's not necessarily about getting high per se,” she says. ”I think in terms of the mindfulness that it brings, and the way that it helps you just do the one thing in front of you—which is the hardest thing to do with how much noise we have going on in our world right now… the most important thing is to try to turn off our brains in a way, and I think that's been the biggest benefit for me."

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Weed makes a compelling case for itself in the workout world. Abby Gould, a former athlete who works at dosist in L.A., will vape before exercising to key into cannabis’s meditative benefits. “It's not necessarily about getting high per se,” she says. ”I think in terms of the mindfulness that it brings, and the way that it helps you just do the one thing in front of you—which is the hardest thing to do with how much noise we have going on in our world right now… the most important thing is to try to turn off our brains in a way, and I think that's been the biggest benefit for me."

While a meditative workout like yoga feels like it naturally lends itself to the use of cannabis, it's by no means the only kind of exercise people do when high, nor is it the only kind of workout that can benefit from being in an altered state. Hannah Maguire, a clinical herbalist in West Virginia, ingests cannabis before Spin classes (yes, basically the direct opposite of yoga). “Especially in a dark room, getting into the zone, a little help from cannabis really goes together well in that setting," she says. “I guess I'm just kind of an introvert; being in a room of people is exhausting, so I find that it helps me to kind of not be so much in my head and feel a little bit more grounded.”

Meanwhile, Farideh Sadeghin, a culinary director in New York City, uses cannabis a few times a week before heading out for a run. “Running is just a way to relax, and smoking weed is also a way that I relax, so they kind of go hand-in-hand together," Sadeghin says. She finds it’s especially helpful at the gym when she’s logging tedious miles on the treadmill. She watches comedies while running, and “being high while doing it is really enjoyable. I laugh out loud and people around me at the gym think I'm crazy because I'm laughing on the treadmill, but it's totally fine.”

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Thinking about adding weed to your workout routine? Ortega, the yoga instructor, says she finds that what you should consume depends on what you’re trying to get out of your experience. “I usually like to pair my practice with a sativa strain—something uplifting and energetic,” she says. But indica and sativa strains each have their own benefits, she notes. (Remember: Sativas tend to be more CBD-based and indicas are higher in THC.) Ortega pairs a flow that’s more mellow with an indica, which she says yields a more relaxing body high; the body high is also especially good for pain relief, she adds. Meanwhile, the head high of a sativa can lead to a stronger mind-body connection. “At first, people are a little bit distracted and they’re not sure if they’re going to be able to focus, but then they’re not thinking about that anymore, and thinking about what they’re doing, their breathing,” Ortega says.

Whether you smoke, vape, or eat an edible (Maguire is partial to adding a cannabis-infused coconut oil to her breakfast smoothie—just remember to factor in the time it’ll take for it to kick in!), there are a couple things to keep in mind when you introduce cannabis to your workout. “Start low and go slow,” Gould cautions. And Ortega recommends keeping hydrated and staying aware of how you’re feeling. “If you need a break, take a break,” she says. “Check in with yourself. And enjoy the practice.”

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