Yoga, Running & Cannabis

Introducing Angela Viesti, Health & Cannabis Coach

If you had told teenage me that one day, I would practice yoga, enjoy running, and write about cannabis for a living, I would’ve wanted to believe you, but frankly, I would’ve thought you smoked a bad batch. It turns out that as an adult, those three things healed me in ways that no doctor or modern medicine could.

I smoked cigarettes for many years, so I ran out of breath easily and avoided strenuous physical activity at all costs. Yoga became the first exercise routine I practiced with any regularity. 2006 was a particularly rough year, so I signed up for a twice-weekly yoga class sponsored by my employer. Week after week my form improved and I became more conscious about what I put in my body (besides tobacco). My stress levels dropped drastically after every yoga class—something I hadn’t anticipated. I thought only smoking did that!

I was especially grateful for yoga when I was involved in a car accident in 2007, where I was struck from the passenger side and suffered injuries to my neck and back. The strength I built with yoga helped to lessen the severity of my injuries and made recovery a bit smoother—I was still in pain, but it could’ve been much worse. My practice was on and off for a few years, until I discovered yoga videos on YouTube in 2016. I now maintain a regular yoga practice, more so for my sanity than anything else.

My cigarette addiction made me exercise-averse and I struggled with my weight from time to time, but the real issue was my lack of stamina and motivation, which added to my negative self-image. I thought that my body looked the way it looked and I believed that transforming it was impossible.

When I quit smoking cigarettes

In 2013 I quit smoking and decided to join a gym. It took me a while to feel comfortable in this environment, but I eventually developed my own routine. Months later, when I signed up for a 5K and began training for it, I found running to be quite the enjoyable form of cardio. I didn’t worry about being the fastest or making great time; I was happy that I could actually run and not collapse from my heart beating so fast.

Eventually my relationship with running shifted from a form of exercise to an outlet for releasing pent-up emotions and frustration. Anytime I’d put running on the back-burner for too long, I’d start feeling lethargic and somewhat depressed. Now I know to get my running shoes and hit the strand anytime I’m feeling emotionally unstable.

My Cannabis Journey

I was introduced to cannabis in my teens and became an avid consumer of the plant when I was 15. Struggles with social anxiety at school and the angst of having a parent with chronic illness at home left me susceptible to misbehavior. Cutting class became a daily ritual, which I now recognize as a rejection of institutionalization and an escape from my “tough”, overpopulated high school.  All of this made me appear to be a troublemaker to the adults in my life, even though I was just seeking relief from the things that troubled me.

It took a few “ah-ha” moments for me to realize that I’d been using cannabis therapeutically all along. When my neck and back ached from the injuries I sustained in the car accident, cannabis diminished the pain; when I was too nauseated to eat or too stressed to sleep, cannabis was the only remedy that worked; when my doctor advised me to wear a wrist brace and take Ibuprofen for my tendonitis/carpal tunnel symptoms, I opted for cannabis instead; when I realized that I’d dealt with social anxiety my entire life and chose seclusion or numbing before I discovered cannabis, it became clear: I’d been intuitively healing myself with cannabis all along. I just needed to reframe the way I viewed my consumption and let go of the judgements and stigmas I’d been carrying.

Combining Cannabis & Fitness

Cannabis found its way into my exercise routine also. I did just about everything high and working out was no exception. Running and practicing yoga while high got me in the zone and out of my head. When I discovered topicals and tinctures, it changed the way I prepped for and recovered from exercise. I experimented with various ratios of THC and CBD, and tried different combinations of medicines depending on what I was doing and how I was feeling.

Yoga, running, and cannabis started out as a means to get in shape and escape my troubles, but are now staples in my wellness toolbox and part of my daily routine. Combining mindful cannabis consumption with yoga and running has allowed me to connect to my inner world and given me the ability to self-heal.