Cannabis-enhanced yoga is a thing. Whether popping up in classes across the country, being mentioned alongside other forms of athleticism in articles about CBD-fuelled fitness, or made into fashion with weed-themed yoga leggings, the pairing of the ancient practice and healing plant has become quite the conversation topic in yoga studios across the world.
Many people are enjoying the anti-inflammatory, relaxation, and creative benefits of cannabis on yoga. As the first moderner to offer public enhanced-yoga practice, I am so happy to see the marriage of humanity’s oldest methods for relaxation and spiritual insight gain momentum and increased acceptance. Ten years ago, when I started offering a yogic setting for people to get high and do yoga, I googled and found no other mention of the two, other than Chris Bennett’s insightful writing on the history of yoga and cannabis in ancient spiritual practice in India.
We’ve come a long way baby! (five thousand years or more, to be exact...).
As more people turn to THC and CBD to enhance their yoga, it’s important to know a few things that people often get wrong. That way, you you can make sure you are getting the most of out this sacred, awesome pairing, no matter if you’re going to a canna-yoga class in your city, doing my ganja yoga videos online, or smoking up and doing your own stretching at home.
Myth #1 - Yoga is athletics, hard, and only for certain bodies.
It’s been awesome to see all these articles about weed-fuelled fitness coming out. Ganja Jogging, Weed Weightlifting, and Marijuana Muay Thai are the talk of the town, (okay, I made that last one up…). With former NFL athlete Ricky Williams and other professional sports stars talking about how going green making their work-out even better, it’s all about the athletic advantage that cannabis can offer.
I have nothing wrong with this of course, except when the articles mention yoga alongside all the other workouts, and show images of fit-AF people doing very hard yoga poses, perpetuating the idea of a hard practice and a specific type of “yoga body.”
In our culture, we unconsciously run an internal, unconscious program of contraction as we go about our busy lives. Many of us are more rushed, tired, stressed, distracted and unsatisfied than we know we should be. Everyone knows that stress the leading cause of premature death, yet anxiety disorders, depression, frustration, and feelings of disconnection (the symptoms of stress and disconnection), - are all too common.
Yoga can be, should be, a balm to soothe all that.
It’s a place for letting go of our mass cultural contraction, … a time for surrendering and softening the muscles, an occasion to drop the mind and all the grasping and depleting over-thinking we do.
Yoga wasn’t really meant to be a work-out in the way we think of workouts. It certainly doesn’t have to be something you dread, or something you think you should do after eating too many carbs. Yoga doesn’t even have to make you break a sweat.
And, while we’re on the topic, yoga is about so, so much more than the poses.
So, knowing this, your weed-yoga class will probably (if the teacher knows what’s up as most weed-yoga teachers, do) be a lot easier than most yoga-studio yoga. And that’s a good thing.
I hear the real athletic types out there yawning in boredom at the thought of doing low-dub grandma-friendly yoga. If you like yoga classes with the word “power” in the title, and find the softer version of the ancient practice boring, see if you can be up for the internal challenge. Not of working your muscles, but of tapping into a more relaxed engagement with your body. Be still. Relax. Especially when high. Instead of brutalizing your body in yoga, see if you can you just be with it, - where it is now, - in simpler, more basic poses.
Evoke yogic sensitivity, which cannabis engenders, by doing less on your mat, not more. No grunting, no punishment, no contraction, just bliss and yummy relaxation, which is available to anyone who has a body.
Myth #2 - Cannabis-Enhanced Yoga is Dangerous
When people think Ganja Yoga is a bad idea, usually it’s because they think something about it may be dangerous. Often that’s because they don’t smoke pot all that much, saw a Cheech and Chong movie once, and assume me and my students will be hot boxing the room and then stumbling around like intoxicated goofs on our sticky mats.
A few things: First, you don’t have to get super baked to practice cannabis-enhanced yoga. It’s always an option, but sometimes it feels right to do a smaller dose before a practice (or even a microdose, where the effect is only-barely-felt). CBD and topicals are a way to use cannabis and not get high at all.
Second, weed doesn’t actually make you all that clumsy. States with legal cannabis don’t have higher cannabis-related car accidents. Sometimes balancing postures might become slightly harder when under the influence, but my students actually tend to report greater embodiment and awareness.
It really depends on how much you consume. Start low and go slow, you can always add more as you go.
My last point on the potential dangers: A good cannabis enhanced yoga teacher is not going to instruct you to do something that may be dangerous to fall out of. A good yoga teacher, - enhanced with cannabis or not, - doesn’t make the mistake of taking a mixed-level class into poses that aren’t safe.
So, you won’t be doing any potentially-dangerous inversions with me, stoned or not, unless we’ve had a few private sessions and I’ve known you for a good long time. Your teacher (and your common sense) should make sure what you get up to in your yoga practice is safe, relaxing, and fun. In that order.
Myth #3 - Certain Strains or Consumption Methods Are Better For Yoga
I often get asked what strain is best for Ganja Yoga, and this is a tricky question. In the age of a quick-fix solution, people want a few strains, not a long diatribe about how each strain works individually with one’s unique biochemistry...
However, I can’t not. Cause when you combine the various cannabinoid constellations with the various terpene profiles, you can get easily thousands of different strains to choose from.
The best strain for yoga is the one that serves you in that moment.
Perhaps you’re sluggish for yoga today, so a strain with a lot of the terpene (aka - aromatherapy oil), called “myrcene” (which brings about relaxation), might not be the best for you. Better to get a pick-me-up with a strain containing the terpene limonene, which is like a zesty lemon to wake you up.
Lots of strains of limonene though, so do you want one with high-THC to help with pain and get you trippin, or one with more CBD to reduce anxiety? Keep in mind that THC and CBD are only two of dozens of cannabinoids to consider. Like I said, strains are a lot more than meets the eye.
What strain you choose today might not be the strain you choose tomorrow. Play around with both strains and methods so as you begin your daily yoga routine, you can start to have a sense of what works best for you, depending on the time of day, your yoga practice, and your health needs and goals.
I recommend keeping a journal so you can refer back to the strains that really brought the “Mmm” to your Om.
On top of strains, there’s the vast array of consumption methods. Edibles give the best body-buzz so I often recommend them for yoga. However, the onset is rather slow, so you need to consume about an hour before you hit your mat, and it’s easy to over-consume, so be sure to go slow and eat more later if needed.
Tinctures are faster-acting than edibles, and can be placed under the tongue so they get absorbed into the bloodstream. Smoking is an ancient practice that connects you to the spirit of fire, but consuming burnt particles of any kind may not keep those yogic lungs happy for long. Vaping is a safer alternative, though it can sometimes be hard to tell just how high you are from a vape, and it doesn’t feel particularly sacred in the way smoking does. Lastly, topicals are great for rubbing onto sore muscles before stretching them out, but of course don’t change your state of consciousness.
Each method has its pros and cons for yoga and for life.
There you have it, the top three misconceptions about weed-inspired yoga, and how you can beat them: Don’t think of yoga as a workout, keep your practice safe, and be open to various strains, - and you’re well on your way to making the most of the pairing that got ancient Indian yogis flying high thousands of years ago. Whether you get high and watch easy yoga videos online, toke before making up your own stretches and dance moves, go to a regular yoga class baked, or find a teacher in your city that offers classes where you can get high together, keep it chill and customize it to you, modify and rest as needed, and, most awesomely, know that you’re part of a movement of hundreds, if not thousands of yogis, - all across the world doing the very same thing.
By Dee Dussault
Dee Dussault is the yoga first teacher to offer public cannabis yoga classes. Over the past decade, she’s brought her classes, which she calls Ganja Yoga, to thousands of students in over a dozen US cities.
A seasoned yoga practitioner of twenty-three years, Dee is also an international speaker and the author of the Harpercollins book by the same name. Ganja Yoga has been featured in publications like The New York Times, Business Insider, Newsweek, and LA Yoga, as well as major International media from India to France.
A lover of bliss, Dee also works as a sex coach who specializes in tantra yoga and cannabis-enhanced intimacy. She works with singles and couples in Los Angeles and San Francisco, helping them tap into their radiant embodied selves. Her training was in the Tantric tradition of Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
@ganjayoga on Instagram
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