There has been a growing movement within marijanua legal states to offer cannabis-infused yoga classes. b.Blunt sits down with Jessy Chang, owner of Local High Society, a yoga community based in Downtown Los Angeles that hosts a monthly Cannabis Enhanced Yoga workshops to help yogis to focus on their bodies while opening their minds to a stronger creative flow.
Tell us about yourself, how did you come up with the idea for Local High Society?
My name is Jessy Chang. I’m a Chinese Taiwanese American yoga teacher and graphic designer based in Downtown Los Angeles. The main reason I started Local High Society is to share my 2 favorite things to do together, to smoke weed and do yoga! I always felt so in tune with my body, able to shift my awareness, and focus my mind when I smoke weed before my yoga practice. Cannabis helps deepen my practice spiritually and physically. I thought “if I love this so much, there’s gotta be lots of other people out there who love this as much as I do!” Surely, when I started to tell my students that I practice and teach ganja yoga, many of them would tell me that they always get stoned before coming to my classes anyways! This inspired me to start a community, to provide a safe space for the ganja yogis to come together, share smokes and practice yoga without feeling ashamed, being judged, or criticized. Also to educate my students on different types of cannabis, to smoke organic cannabis (because you don’t want to spark up pesticides and inhale toxins), and expose them to various cannabis wellness products. I like to support and work with women owned local small businesses, and often invite them to be a part of my workshops and introduce their products to my students.
How often do you teach classes?
I teach five classes a week. Mainly at Evoke Yoga in Downtown Los Angeles and White Heat Yoga in North Hollywood. I teach all kinds of yoga including Hot Vinyasa, Stretch, Yoga Fundamentals, and Restorative Yoga. My Restorative Yoga is a 420 friendly class at Evoke every Sunday night with Vape Pens and Edibles. Local High Society is a once a month elevated yoga workshop offering different types of yoga practices. In the past, I’ve offered All Levels Vinyasa Flow, Glow in the Dark Buti Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Sound Bath, and my upcoming May workshop is Slow Flow and Yin Yoga.
What is the most popular class and why?
The most popular class so far is our Sound Bath. I work with 2 amazing Reiki/Sound Healers to facilitate the event. We’ve gotten so much positive feedback and have hosted two Stoned Sound Baths already! I’d like to make this a regular event once every couple of months. I think people enjoy the Sound Bath so much because it’s very relaxing and emotionally healing. It’s quite a psychedelic journey and doesn’t require any yoga experience so it’s not intimidating. Some students bring their parents to the Sound Bath, which is always fun to see.
Who is your ideal audience? Can all levels practice elevated yoga?
I would like the Local High Society workshops to be accessible to ALL people. No matter what skin color, gender, age (well you have to be 21+), you are ALL welcome! Personally, I LOVE to move and practice yoga at a higher intensity when I’m elevated, but I understand not everyone enjoys that. So I design the classes for all levels of practice with slower and gentle movements and safe biomechanics. You can go at your own pace, modify your poses, or if you’d like to just savasana you’re welcome to do that too!
How would you describe your class to someone who’s new to cannabis?
Many students who came to the workshops have either never done yoga before, never consumed cannabis before, or never done both! My advice is to start light. Maybe 1 or 2 puffs, or less than 5mg of edibles to begin with. You can build from that once you start to feel relaxed. Go at your own pace during the yoga practice, no one is there to judge you. It’s all about feeling good! My cues are only there as suggestions, so move where it feels good for your body. And of course, CBD vape is always offered in class for students who want to relax without the psychoactive effects.
How do you sign up for class?
In your opinion what is the biggest challenge in the cannabis industry right now, specifically for women?
The biggest challenge is the stigma, specially towards women. When some people find out that I am a regular cannabis consumer, I often get this reaction “What? You don’t look like a stoner!” It just makes me laugh. First of all, I am NOT a stoner. The term “stoner” carries with it very negative connotations. I’m very creative and productive when I’m high. Second, what am I suppose to look like?
Fortunately I see a growing community of Cannabis Wellness that women have dominated since I started teaching in the cannabis industry. We are out there to change the stigma and educate people about cannabis as a healing medicine. For my elevated yoga teaching, Cannabis is there as a spiritual guide and an accelerant to elevate the awareness of our body and mind.
What motivates you to keep going?
A student came to the workshop with back injury due to a car accident. After my class, she came to me with tears, hugging me and telling me this was the first time since her accident, she was able feel calm and relaxed while lying down on her back without feeling pain. This is why I will continue to teach cannabis enhanced yoga, to help people ease physical pain and emotional traumas.
How was cannabis introduced to your lifestyle?
When I was going to art school, my classmates introduced me to cannabis so we can get super creative on our projects. We were flowing with all kinds of crazy ideas! I started to enjoy getting high while making art.
You have a great collection of goods (and I love the logo), what’s next for the Local High Society as a brand?
Thank you! The goal of LHS is to have its own space. I’d love to provide a permanent safe space to not only offer elevated yoga, but all types of wellness classes on a daily basis.
Where are you located? What’s the weed scene like there?
Currently, I’m based in Downtown Los Angeles. It’s really difficult to find a yoga studio that is 420 friendly. I’m very fortunate that my home studio Evoke Yoga is inclusive and welcomes all types of yoga practice. Downtown LA has an exciting and very diverse cannabis community. I’m happy to see my students are from all types of background, ethnicity, and sexuality.
Do you have a favorite cannabis related story or memory?
Oh yes! I once smoked out my very traditional Chinese mom! I was maybe 21, 22, still living with my parents while going to art school. My mother smokes cigarettes, which I disapprove. One evening, she was out on the patio smoking her cig, so I went outside, sat down next to her and said “if you’re going to smoke cigarettes, I’m going to smoke weed right next to you.” She looked at me and to my surprised, said “go ahead.” So I went to my room, grabbed my little pouch, ran down and started to pack a bowl right next to her. She was very curious and said “let me try it.” I was so excited! I showed her how to use the bowl, and she took a puff! Then, she said “I don’t feel anything.” I asked her why she wanted to try, she replied “I just want to see what’s the big deal about it.” After that, we never spoke of this event again. EVER!
How can you be reached?
Any final tips, words, info, etc?
Just like what Bob Marley said “When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself.” Some students may experience anxiety or rising emotions that have been suppressed while being high, it’s just the plant telling you to there’s something deep inside you need to work on. I tell my students if and when they started to feel anxious or too emotional, just take slow and deep breaths – inhales through the nose and exhale out the mouth. Continue to focus on the breaths until you start to feel calmer. Also, like any other yoga practices, if you have an injury, work with your injury instead of pushing through it.