Yoga and Cannabis: A New Trend That’s Gaining Popularity

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Yoga is an art few really understand. It’s been with the world so long, it defies easy definition. For starters, yoga is not a religion although it has origins that coincide with Eastern religious thought and philosophy.

Yoga is so ancient and spiritual you must wonder how yoga and cannabis got together.

The tradition

The ancients believed that serenity and peace come from the alignment of mind and body. Yoga recommends physical movements that restore that balance.

They believed “chakras” describe the convergence of energy, feelings, and body. As these forces converge, they chakra determines how you experience life. The chakra is the source of aversions, desires, emotions, fears and physical problems.

If the chakra is out of balance, it causes physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms. Yoga, then, practices physical and mental exercises to restore the chakra’s alignment and balance. For instance, the chakra expects alignment from brain through neck and spine. Yoga practice works to restore that balance by improving circulation, digestion, hormone distribution, and respiration. The tradition shows that emotional stability and mental clarity follow the alignment.

According to Medical New Today, the various “schools” of yoga differ in method more than purpose. Some emphasize the regulation of breathing, some stress meditation, and others withdraw from sensual stimulation. But, common to most practices is the “Asana – integration of mind and body through physical activity.”

Contemporary practice has left the religious and philosophical roots behind in favor or promoting the benefits of stretching, flexibility, and respiratory control. Practitioners find the practices relaxing and de-stressing. So, “schools” of yoga have blended interests, focus, and practices in multiplying variations in private studios, health clubs, spas, and religious retreats.

Yoga and Cannabis

Shelley White, writing for Collective Evolution says, “Although many people do not typically associate cannabis with exercise or any other productive activity, largely due to the ‘stoner’ stereotype that casts people who use cannabis as unmotivated and lazy, the truth is that more stimulating strains of cannabis like sativa or sativa dominant ones can prove to be uplifting and motivating.” But, most practitioners recommend Indica strains that promote focus, clarity, and relaxation.

Her contention and that of others embracing the trend of combining cannabis and yoga is that some cannabis strains provide “users with smooth energy while simultaneously calming tension in the body and/or mind.” For instance, the effects may reduce the effects of the chronic pain or severe anxiety that otherwise discourage participation.

According to April Short in Alternet, the connection between cannabis use and yoga practice dates to antiquity. Nevertheless, that connection is a new trend that’s gaining popularity with or without a religious connection.

The discipline in pairing yoga and cannabis goes like this:

  • Yoga calls for class preparation, a clearing of the mind. You dispense with the problems of the day through focused breathing and meditation. With the help of an Indica strain, the inevitable mellowness helps you pull things together.
  • Cannabis can increase focus and heighten your senses. Incense, music, fresh air, and the soft admonitions of the instructor take on a rich depth as you turn away from noises and dissonance and open paths to bliss.
  • Physical movements come with ease and less resistance. They synch with mind and environment to enable grace and flexibility. Movements reportedly feel dynamic and liberating.
  • As breathing rhythm aligns with heartbeat, the effects of cannabis allow you to breath and meditate without thought or resistance. Breathing deeply from the diaphragm clears the mind and makes space there for spiritual surrender and the peace that follows.
  • Yoga classes end with a quiet calm in a virasana pose that challenges you to replay the physical and meditative event, a moment facilitated by the lasting cannabis effects.

No one is suggesting there is value in yoga while you are in a state of fall down inebriation and giggling confusion. But, moderate intake prior to yoga can make it easier to enter, and it can extend the harmony and rhythms key to the experience.

Yoga and cannabis: a new trend that’s gaining popularity

Combining cannabis with your yoga is a solo experience. Or, it can be a social practice in new classes devoted to yoga and cannabis practice. Entering a session that’s not using cannabis while you are under the influence may make others uncomfortable.

Of course, you can manage dosage with edibles and oils. You can relax joints and muscles with lotions and topicals. There is no requirement that you smoke.

Science has not focused on the cannabis/yoga pairing. Increasing studies show cannabis to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-anxiety effects. Additional research is reviewing its benefits on smooth muscles, tumor growth restriction, and digestive functions. And, the core of cannabis research assumes it works constructively with the human endocannabinoid system in known and yet unexplained ways.

Mainstream yoga does put a high priority on being “pure” in mind and body. And, heavy cannabis usage may create a set of interconnected problems too big for yoga.

But, if cannabis use helps you get into yoga practices by reducing your aversion, anxiety, and social awkwardness, then it makes good sense.