By Amanda Lewis
|Liz McDonald practices yoga on a beach in Brazil while smoking a fat cartoon joint.
Take a nice deep inhale, press the feet, elongate the neck and allow any sort of tension to just drop out of the head, but don’t think about food. We’ll be needing to relax the booty muscles, to slooowly roll down one vertebrae at a time, to find your breath and allow it to move your body, but really, don’t think about food.
You’re at the 4:20 Remedy Yoga Class at Brazilian Yoga and Pilates in Atwater, stoned and lying contorted on your yoga mat in a spacious warehouse with hardwood floors, a wall of mirrors and natural afternoon light, so take two more breaths here and then “step into your back foot like you’re squishing a grape,” as Stefani Manger instructs the class.
But you weren’t thinking about food.
“We’re trying to work out this crunchy peanut butter in our shoulders,” says Manger, who sports a black leotard under black yoga pants, turquoise feather earrings and a messy bun with bangs swept across her forehead. “Twist a little bit deeper, squeezing out the toxins, like some of that wine, the pizza…”
“I had pizza and wings last night!” shouts 33-year-old petite blonde Liz McDonald, a self-described “yogangsta” and owner of this year-old studio. As you strain to open up your shoulder blades and sink your hips a bit lower, the munchies become unbearable.
“You gotta squeeze hard, girl!” Manger calls to her.
“It’s wrong for Crispy Crust to offer the wings for only $2.99!” McDonald says, pushing herself deeper into the pose. A man in a red Godzilla shirt with Japanese writing decides he can’t take it anymore.
“Let’s get some now!” he says, sending the class into a fit of giggles.
After moving to L.A. from Brazil two years ago, McDonald noticed that many of her private clients took a few puffs of marijuana before practicing yoga and decided to dedicate a class at her new studio to combining two of hippy-dippy California’s favorite feel-good, vaguely medicinal pastimes, raising a peace sign to say “Chill, man” to the competitive, stressed, traffic-soaked city beyond.
McDonald conceived of the 4:20 class as “a gathering of creative minds, a very non-judgmental place where all are welcome,” she says. “Do I really want a couple of uptight conservatives in here? Ideally no, but… my business welcomes all types of people, especially those tight-asses that may need it most!”
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