“Don’t be alarmed” isn’t a line you’d normally want to hear from a yoga teacher at the beginning of class. But this isn’t your standard vinyasa sesh—this is Buddha Bud Yoga, a cannabis-fueled flow offered twice monthly at Yoga Shala on N Williams. (And also a thing elsewhere, including in San Francisco and Los Angeles.) I’m here for the first time, realizing I haven’t accounted for the—ahem—idiosyncrasies of a super-stoned teacher. In fact, there’s a lot I haven’t accounted for. Here, stage by stage, is my journey through Buddha Bud Yoga.
Stage 1: Anticipation
On the way to the studio, I run into Portland Monthly editor in chief Zach Dundas. I stage-whisper that I’m about to go get high and do yoga. He blinks three times before shouting, with great exuberance, “GET HIGH!” My eyes dart to his three-year-old daughter, but she’s too busy marveling at the tacky properties of Play-Doh to bother with the needlessly complicated recreational pursuits of those around her. Zach’s wife wishes me “an experience.” Duly blessed, I continue up the block.
Stage 2: Apprehension
The evening begins with body glitter (my 12-year-old self resists the temptation) and an icebreaker—we’re asked to share a secret pleasure or fantasy, which vaults us instantly to group sex, sex in public, and sex in space. One student confesses his weakness for pizza dipped in applesauce. Due to a general aversion to revealing my carnal proclivities to strangers, I mutter something about chocolate for breakfast.
Stage 3: Annihilation (of All Good Sense)
Now that we’re familiar with half the participants’ sex lives, it’s time to get high and pretend we never possessed such intimate knowledge. Per OLCC rules, the instructor isn’t allowed to provide the goods, but students can share with one another. A woman who works in the cannabis industry unloads fistfuls of bud onto partitioned plates. It’s an all-you-can-inhale buffet, with more smoking implements—pipes, bubblers, some intimidatingly futuristic tubelike gadget—than there are people in the room. Prior to class, I'd imagined being careful about intake, about which strains I was smoking. Oh, the naiveté! I inhale whatever’s handed to me, forgetting that I will soon be asked to bend myself into positions that require a modicum of body awareness. I very visibly roll my eyes at someone complaining about Portland traffic, forgetting that this is a subpar way to engage with the world. I attempt to eavesdrop on a conversation in Spanish between two brothers from Argentina, forgetting that I don’t speak Spanish. I am Very High.
Stage 4: Asana (Finally)
Just as I reach the sensory annoyance phase of my high—why are humans so loud all the time?!—we reach the movement part of the evening. Our route is, to put it gently, roundabout. Before we enter the first pose, our instructor, Karli, launches into a vagabonding string of yoga koans. It’s as if all her teacher wisdom—all her tips on tight hamstrings and twists and tadasana—had been run through a randomizer, resulting in a big, somewhat baffling bowl of yoga salad. The flow itself—once we get there—makes slightly more sense, even if it does seem to stray in surprising directions. But what do I know? I am Very High. I also feel Very Flexible, which, umm, cool? But also Very Wobbly. Karli, mercifully, doesn’t lead us into any balances or inversions (which doesn’t stop the fellow next to me from flipping into a headstand—Very Impressive). A supported twist involving a bolster and two blocks prompts immense bewilderment, limbs flopped in every possible direction. While in downward-facing dog, I wonder what kind of pizza would taste best dipped in applesauce. I like apple slices with Swiss cheese. Swiss cheese on pizza? Yeah, I’d eat that.
Stage 5: Snacktime!!!!!
There are snacks, including apple slices and Swiss cheese. It’s not pizza. I eat it anyway. Mmmmmm. Snacks.
Stage 6: Abdication
Hula hoops have emerged. They are glittery. “Soooo pretty,” someone coos. Namaste, y’all—I’m out.