Legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, along with decreased stigma, have led to a multitude of pairings between cannabis and healthy practices like yoga in recent years. You may have heard it branded Ganja Yoga, 420 Yoga, Marijuasana, or CannaYoga. But the current trend toward cannabis-enhanced yoga classes isn’t a new concept. Not a new concept at all.
The world’s oldest sacred texts, the Vedas, mention the relationship between two powerful medicinal tools of healing: yoga and cannabis. The Vedas led to the creation of Hinduism and the development of the yogic philosophy.
Another ancient document, the Yoga Sutras, mentions marijuana as well. Because of this, many yogis today consider marijuana to be not only beneficial to their practice, but essential to it.
The bending, stretching, posing, and breathing patterns that define it as a physical activity only scratch the surface of yoga’s potential benefits in an individual’s life. Ashtanga yoga outlines 8 principles (or “limbs”) meant to help individuals develop a healthier, inspired, and conscious life. Some yoga instructors espouse that disciplined study of these limbs can propel one toward uniting their spiritual and physical selves. This can contribute to overall better health.
Cannabis-enhanced yoga classes tend to take a gentle approach. Your instructor may teach it similarly to restorative yoga, a deeply relaxing practice with modified versions of yoga postures supported by assistance from blankets and blocks. It might also be taught in a yin yoga style, which involves longer-held seated and reclining poses.
A cannabis-enhanced yoga class may not involve a lot of standing or balancing poses that could be disorienting while “high”. Your class will likely instead focus on floor postures, breath work, and meditation.
One cannabis yoga instructor, Daniele B, says she feels the benefits of cannabis-enhanced yoga, “I’ve found weed to be an integral part of my own personal practice. I don’t have to get high to feel yoga’s many benefits — like stress relief, pain relief, and body-mind-heart-spirit centeredness, among others — but I feel a palpable enhancement and heightening of those benefits when I do.”
Today’s yogis are widely divided on whether or not combining cannabis and yoga is beneficial or detrimental. Some argue that yoga is hindered by consuming cannabis. Others find that cannabis enables them to explore their practice more deeply and with fewer mental and physical barriers, according to Leafly.
Nicole H., a yoga instructor from Kentucky, doesn’t like to use cannabis as part of her practice. She said, “I don’t practice under the influence. When I do, I get distracted and my breathing is weird.”
Lynne Theodose, author of the website Yoga Basics, further explains why a cannabis-enhanced class might not be a good choice for every yogi. “Marijuana can elicit feelings of euphoria similar to the bliss enlightened yogi masters describe. For some, this may be a handy shortcut, but it can also be a form of spiritual bypassing, where you chase faux spiritual experiences in an effort to avoid unresolved personal issues or pain. Most often earned through intense self-scrutiny and yogic practices, true samadhi (liberation, absorption) won’t fade with your buzz.”
In a class setting, only consume or vaporize up to the amount of medical marijuana that’s been recommended by your doctor for your condition. Before entering class, choose a strain or product that you know has a consistently predictable effect on your body and mind. If you do choose to inhale your cannabis, it’s especially important to drink lots of water during class to keep your mouth and throat from becoming too dry.
Strains to try for cannabis-enhanced yoga? It really depends on what time of day and what effect you are trying to achieve. To enhance relaxation, many yogis find that heavy indicas help them fully receive the most benefit. Strains such as Northern Lights and high CBD strains like ACDC can be good go-to’s for a late evening, candlelit asana before bed. On the other hand, a morning or afternoon yoga session might be best paired with an energizing hybrid strain like Jack Herer.
Another tip for trying cannabis-enhanced yoga involves carefully considering your method of administration. Many studios cannot legally allow you to smoke or vaporize inside. Plus, a coughing fit after a big hit would surely detract from finding your zen. So how about another form? A fast-acting tincture, edible, or beverage product that takes effect in about 15 minutes after consumption might be just what you need to get the most out of your sun salutations.
Do not take any products just before or during cannabis yoga if you’re unfamiliar with the way your body will react to it. If you have any questions about using your medical cannabis during yoga (or in any other setting), reach out to one of our trusted Duber Medical doctors today.
Gabrielle has been writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries for more than 20 years. She currently writes articles about medical marijuana for Duber Medical and is the founder of the Ohio cannabis journalism non-profit, MedicateOH.