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Yes, Hot Box Yoga is Exactly What it Sounds Like

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This article is made possible by the fine folks at New Mission Yoga

Classmate enjoying cannabis before Hot Box Yoga

Classmate enjoying cannabis before Hot Box Yoga

“I think I came across the most San Francisco thing I have ever heard of, Stu,” I tell my Editor-in-Cheap, Stuart Schuffman.

“What could that be, Alex?”

“I want you to guess. If you can’t guess in three tries, I want you to come with me.”

“ Challenge accepted… Ok, is it the Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum?”

“ Nope.”

“ Darn. Is it the Hunky Jesus Contest hosted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence? If so, I’m already going.”

“ Nope. Even more San Francisco!”

“ Even more SF than that?”

“ More San Francisco than Emperor Norton, Bushman, or Frank Chu?”

“ Ok maybe not, but this is the new best discovery since half of San Francisco stopped going to work and there’s been more parking!”

“ Ok, what is it?”

“It is New Mission Yoga’s newest class addition: Hot Box Yoga. Thursdays 5:30pm. And now you’re coming with me. ”
“Sounds epic. What do I wear?

“Not much.”

The look on peoples face when they hear about Hot Box Yoga is quite entertaining. “Only in San Francisco…” is the most common response we hear.

Steve23 leading class

Steve23 leading class

“We just formalized what was happening anyway,” says founder and yoga teacher, Steve23. “People thought they were being sly by smoking on the street before coming to class, but you could tell they were high, so now we have a class where we partake together.”

New Mission Yoga has been a San Francisco staple yoga community for over 20 years. Due to the perils of the pandemic, tons of yoga studios met their demise but New Mission Yoga is back! The grit and creativity of this tight knit community of old school local yogis – who dedicated hours of their time and personal funds – as well as the kindness of an usual SF landlord who allowed them to teach yoga on the roof during the pandemic has allowed them to remerge! They have now outdone themselves in their latest, most uniquely San Francisco yoga class yet. In fact, it’s more than a class, it’s an experience. It’s Hot Box Yoga.

New Mission Yoga is offering a limited number of Founding Memberships with a bounty of benefits including 20% off monthly dues for life, 10% off retail, VIP waitlist and more. Simply use code FOUNDINGMEMBER at checkout to receive the discount.

Mission Yoga was founded by my new-found local hero: Steve23, and the boundless support of community members like PK Delurgio (Steve’s talented partner & artist in residence), James Rogers, and many more. When I asked about this endeavor to combine yoga and weed, he said “Cannabis and yoga are like peanut butter and chocolate – they go great together. Cannabis is a wonderful ally that helps with proprioception or your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location. Cannabis relaxes the mind, eases pain, and helps you get into the zone. I’ve tried goat yoga, beer yoga, naked yoga, and the only thing that comes close is champagne yoga”.

People doing yoga

When I asked if Broke-Ass Stuart could survive in this class, Steve23 said “This class is for everybody. You don’t have to be a gymnast or contortionist to do the yoga. It’s all natural range of human motion – no pretzel moves, no inversions. You may not be able to get your body into the posture but moving in the direction of the posture is the yoga.”

Well, we were already here, hotboxed, and Stuart was sporting his little shorts, so there was no turning back now. We were told we would go on a journey through 26 poses. We started off with pranayama breathing, much like other traditional Bikram classes. The serene smell of cannabis tickled my senses. I felt so relaxed, uninhibited. Even Stuart was getting into the vibe.

Fifteen or so minutes into the class, to my surprise, and unlike any other class I have ever been to,  Steve23 yells out to class “Party break!”. Then he brought out his bong and others grabbed the Indica joints they were gifted, and little cute ashtrays. He incorporated three smoke breaks through the hour and half class, although he encouraged anyone to smoke and hydrate as they wished.

Then we continued on with standing poses. The music was quite pleasant as subtle light shows danced on the walls. The students were a mix of races, ages, and skill levels, but had one thing in common: they were all really welcoming.

Steve23 emphasized,” For my practice I tend to lean towards indica dominant hybrids that emphasize a body high, but not couch lock. I have really been enjoying Orange Tree by Greenline Organics – it’s a perfect blend of energizing and grounding.”

At the start of class we had an opening circle when we shared what’s happening in our bodies and in our life while partaking and we ended up hot boxing the room. Everyone smoked their own joints but shared smiles and giggles.

Classmate Sylvie Liss smoking

Classmate Sylvie Liss smoking

“We invite people to come find their higher selves. Please come hydrated and on an empty stomach. If you have a mat and towel, please bring one, or you can purchase or rent them at the studio. You can expect a chill, fun vibe with great music and trippy lights.”

When I asked how he got his unique name of “Steve23” he said, “This is a question that I get asked a lot and I usually require you to buy me a beer first, but since you’re asking nicely, I’ll tell you, but I won’t turn down the beer. I was 23 years old and I was reading a lot of mind expanding books when I was turned onto Robert Anton Wilson. It chose me. The number serves at a totem for me – a reminder – of my ability to create and manifest. It turns out that a lot of people were already tuned into the power of 23 and it appears in significant places in a lot of people’s lives. As an example, the mother and the father each give the child 23 chromosomes.”

During one of the smoke breaks, I noticed a red haired man with beautiful woven feathers, shirtless with tiger print yoga shorts in the left corner of the room.  When I asked James Rogers what led him to yoga he said. “ I got into yoga because I heard Burningman was miserably hot, so I decided to go to yoga to prepare for my first time at Burningman.”

Mission Cannabis Club worker, Steve23 and PK after class

Mission Cannabis Club worker, Steve23 and PK after class

“Did it work?”

“Not only did it work, I attended Burning Man successfully for many more years to come, and found a community that I now consider like family. There’s few places left like this one in the heart of the Mission.”

I asked Steve23 if he could think of anything more San Francisco than Hotbox yoga?”

“Maybe riding a cable car in a rainbow tutu, eating clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, drinking an Anchor Steam while singing Tony Bennett – but Hot Box Yoga is more fun.”

I was nervous that Stuart would be too hot, too high, or too “complainy” but they kept the room at a reasonable level and Stuart got really into it. I didn’t know he was so flexible!

Steve23 adds, “I was surprised that my deepest, most focused class was in Hot Box Yoga. It really is a magical thing to get a group of people together, on cannabis, on the same beat, on the same inhale, moving together, says Steve23.”

When I asked Steve about the future of Hotbox yoga, he revealed “We are looking forward to doing a Ganja Yoga teacher training at our studio and aiming to be the home of cannabis and yoga in the Bay Area.”

“As California goes, so goes the rest of the country. We are not the first, and we’re hopefully not the last, but we’re definitely the best at blending cannabis and yoga,” says Mr 23.

Stuart during cannabis yoga class

Stuart during class

One student, mid stretch, moaned and said, “This may very well be San Francisco’s most spaced-out yoga trip, man.”  Another student, taking a huge hit on their joint, smiled and confirmed, “This really is the last hidden gem in the Mission. I hope that more community members join us and support this place, so it will be around for years to come. This is what San Francisco is about. ”

Stuart was lying on his mat, in Shavasana. “I have to agree. This is the best yoga class I have ever experienced.”

So there you have it. If Stuart can do it– and love it, so will you.

The staff beamed with excitement, happy that their community and space is ready to blossom amidst very challenging times. Their roster of teachers is growing and their schedule will be filling up.

New Mission Yoga is offering a limited number of Founding Memberships with a bounty of benefits including 20% off monthly dues for life, 10% off retail, VIP waitlist and more. Simply use code FOUNDINGMEMBER at checkout to receive the discount.

You can sign up at  The New Mission Yoga.

Hot Box Yoga is every Thursday at 6pm, doors at 5:30.

A drop in class is $30 and special for the Broke Ass Stuart readers, a Buy One Get One Free Class good for one week for the same person.

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A. Rose

A. Rose

A Rose is a San Francisco native Renaissance Woman: a licensed clinical Hypnotherapist, Private Investigator, Existential humourist, Refined Hustler, and lover of the weird and the wonderful that makes up the San Francisco Bay Area.