Cannabis and Yoga have been longtime friends. In fact, the combination of the two is one that has been practiced for millennia. According to Patanjali (also known as the father of yoga) there are five paths that can be followed in pursuit of enlightenment.
- Sheer Luck (for people carrying good karma from past lives)
- Repetition of Mantras
- Meditation Practices
- Use of Certain Herbs
We can’t be certain that Patanjali meant cannabis as part of the herbs in the fifth pathway, but as Dee Dussault points out in her book, Ganja Yoga, many historians agree that he was probably referring to a psychoactive plant – most likely cannabis.
Thousands of years before Patanjali’s sutras came into existence, Aryan priests in India honored the deity Shiva with a sacred cannabis elixir, still consumed today, known as bhang. Shiva is also recognized as the Lord of Ganja and the Lord of Yoga. In addition, cannabis is believed to have made an appearance in some of the oldest sacred texts of the world known as the Vedas. In these ancient Indian writings, cannabis is referred to as “soma”. Soma was prepared and served in a ceremonial setting and was considered one of the most revered herbs due to its anti-anxiety effects. While there is no archeological evidence to support soma’s translation to cannabis, the text of the Vedas helps to ensure this widely accepted belief.
Some modern day yoga practitioners argue that cannabis is not a conscious way to access spiritual growth and enlightenment. Most of these beliefs are influenced by the anti-marijuana campaigns that occurred during the plant’s full throttle prohibition period. The spread of misinformation that occurred during this time impacted the collective conscious profoundly. Education has since become one of the most important aspects in the cannabis industry. Today, leaders in the space are working relentlessly to undo the wrongful programming while leveraging the medicine into its rightful place in society.
From limited studies, science has proven cannabis helps alleviate pain, inflammation, PTSD, depression, anxiety, seizures and glaucoma. These ailments are only a few of the dozens that have patients around the world seeking out this medicine in support of better health. Some people use the plant to spark creativity and others use it to enhance relaxation.
Yoga is a term that means to yoke or create union with our truest selves. There are many branches of yoga; all of which aim to lead us on a path towards the higher self. In the western world, people often think of the asana practice when they hear the word “yoga”. Asana means seat or posture and is experienced throughout the practice as your downward facing dog, tree pose, and warrior one, two and three. Each pose offers an array of benefits on various systems in the body while also cultivating awareness, relaxation and concentration.
As the ancient practice developed into an industry of its own, it became most commonly understood as an exercise before a meditation. Many people arrive at yoga with the intention of maintaining shape, losing weight or trying out a new exercise routine. What is later discovered, after maintaining a disciplined practice, is a new sense of self; one that is calm, cool and collected.
Cannabis enhanced yoga (and really all yoga) is not about accomplishing poses; it is about becoming more relaxed and present.” – Dee Dussault, Ganja Yoga Founder
The competitive society in which we live often pushes students beyond their comfort zone. As such, the mat on which we practice becomes our greatest reflection. It shows us how we love and respect ourselves or where we need to cultivate more self-love and compassion.
The instructor’s most important job is to keep their students safe, however, it is the student’s job to listen carefully to their body in response to a teacher’s cues. Teachers will assist students in finding a properly aligned pose, but only the student can inform the need for a modified or more advanced version of the pose.
Working on the mat in conjunction with cannabis makes room for one to drop more fully into their physical body. It is as if the volume of the body’s voice is amplified with more awareness. With assistance from the plant, a student can work through the practice with more surrender and much less of a push. It is here, in deep connection with the body’s consciousness, that profound healing can occur.
Our body’s intelligence is incredibly bright and almost never withholds truth. The body’s wisdom is often overruled by the mind by what is referred to as the monkey mind in yoga. As such we are living in a culture that too often manufactures actions in the mind before tuning into the body’s divine guidance. Perhaps you can recall a time when you failed to follow your gut reaction and something negative occurred?
Adding cannabis to a properly structured yoga practice – one that includes conscious consumption, breath work, intention setting and asana – gives way to defining the line of communication that originates from one’s physicality. From here we can uncover limiting thought patterns, old wounds and areas of stress that need to be released (and can be through the practice itself). Once we are in touch with our inner essence, we can move forward in a way that supports us becoming our truest selves – the ultimate goal of the yoga practice.
Introducing cannabis to your yoga practice is not a shortcut to becoming enlightened, but rather a tool to further understand all that is you. Like essential oils and sound healing have the power to open up another dimension in our practice, so too does cannabis.
If you’re interested in adding cannabis to your practice, you might consider joining me in Oakland for one of my bi-weekly classes or in San Francisco for one with Dee Dussault, my fellow collaborator and the founder of Ganja Yoga.
If you already have a practice of your own and just need to add cannabis, please take your time in exploring strains and remember that less is more. You may also consider picking up a copy of Dee’s book, Ganja Yoga for more information on how to begin your own Ganja Yoga practice.
If you’re local to Arcanna Flowers hub of medicine, we recommend these strains for your practice:
Lemon Fire to boost your energy and create inspiration.
Blue Whale for deep introspection.
Baby Blue to tap into your kundalini.