Cannabis and yoga may seem like an odd couple, but the combination is gaining popularity in places where marijuana is fully legal, and many yogis swear by the benefits of combining their practice with an occasional edible or puff off the vape pen.
Yoga + Cannabis Deepens Mind Body Connection
“Mixing yoga and pot took me into the next dimension,” said Liz McDonald, who first tried cannabis while doing yoga after she had been practicing for a dozen years. Now she offers cannabis-friendly yoga classes at a studio in Los Angeles, aiming to help clients reach a deeper level of mind-body connection that can be hard to attain unassisted for many people.
“I want to help people open multiple doors, so I’m doing it with multiple tools,” she told Yoga Journal.
‘Ganja yoga’ classes
Cannabis-infused yoga classes have been around for at least a decade, since yoga instructor Dee Dussault began offering “ganja yoga” to students in her Toronto living room. Now the trendy classes are popping up all over, especially in progressive areas where recreational cannabis is legalized, including California, Colorado and Washington state.
Dussault’s classes, which also are offered in San Francisco, include a 30-minute “social hour” before the class where students get fired up before settling into downward-facing dog. In other classes, such as one offered in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, students are instructed to imbibe before arriving, if they so choose. (Presumably they will Uber home.)
Published accounts suggest that cannabis-friendly yoga classes place an emphasis on attaining a deeper state of relaxation rather than achieving difficult poses that could lead to injury.
Cannabis in India – The Ayurvedic view
Yoga and cannabis both have deep roots in India’s ancient Ayurvedic medical tradition, which views cannabis as valuable medicine. The Hindu deity Lord Shiva is often depicted smoking cannabis in a “chillum” or pipe, although according to tradition he is so powerful he cannot become intoxicated.
But Ayurvedic orthodoxy frowns on using artificial means to achieve the higher spiritual state that is the ultimate goal of yoga, since there can be no shortcut to finding true inner peace.
Still, anecdotal evidence is abundant that for the casual yoga practitioner looking to achieve a deeper flow and a distance from day-to-day concerns, a little cannabis might just do the trick.
“Yoga and weed changed my life,” said one young woman on the internet message board Reddit, adding that she had long struggled with ADHD, insomnia and anxiety. “In my mid 20’s I tossed all meds and started consuming cannabis. … I am 31 now and I feel healthier than ever. I do yoga once or twice a day and smoke only in the evenings for my after-work practice.”
Another fan said cannabis “allows me to go deeper into my body and really connect the subtle energy bodies (as long as I can stay present and focused). Even just standing in mountain pose (tadasana) was extremely intense.”
But those who advocate doing yoga while under the influence of cannabis caution that cannabis should be used as an occasional supplement to help break through blockages, rather than as a habitual practice.
“Smoking before doing yoga everyday … does no good in my experience,” said one Colorado resident. “Distracts from the practice and tricks you into false notions of spiritual growth.”
And cannabis can have unintended side-effects for the yoga practitioner. “I wore my pants backward to class,” confessed one anonymous student.
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