I had been practicing yoga for two years and smoking cannabis regularly for an even longer amount of time before combining the two. My friend Derek and I were ten minutes early for our first power yoga class when he pulled a small pipe from his mat bag, filled to the brim with ganja. Although I smoked on a regular basis I never considered doing so before a yoga class. Maybe it was an effort not to violate some unspoken yogi rule or risk smelling like weed in an enclosed space with students I thought would judge me, but that morning while under the influence of weed, the heated orbs of studio light, and the unknowing instructor’s voice, the yoga practice suddenly became my own.
The class was hard– harder than any other class I’d taken at the time (I’ll chalk that up to taking an advanced yoga class while high enough to high-five Jesus), but I was okay with the class being a challenge. I was tuned in and more concerned with the sensations I felt rather than labeling them as “good”, “bad”, “hard”, or “easy”, and because of this heightened awareness, when flowing and moving became too much I took a child’s pose and the rest of the room dissolved.
Taking a simple child’s pose didn’t seem like much at the time. I always knew I could rest whenever I needed it, but the idea was easier in theory when surrounded by sculpted students in an environment that bred comparison. Smoking cannabis allowed me to tune in to myself, hear my body’s needs and be easier on myself both physically and mentally. With two years of yoga under my belt I finally understood the concept of sthira sukham asanam – steadiness, ease, presence of mind, that usually eluded me outside of savasana.
Typically only the last five minutes of a yoga class are dedicated to physical and mental stillness, but in reality all of the moving from one pose to another is to prime our body and mind for meditation. Cannabis, like the blocks and straps commonly found in the studio, aids in getting to the point where we’re ready to meditate. Where a block may be used to bridge the gap between your palms and the floor, cannabis works to bridge the gap between your body and spirit by quieting mind fluctuations, acting as a muscle relaxant, increasing awareness of sensations, and promoting introspection. So when yoga and cannabis (two tools for meditation) are combined, a new introspective and mindful practice forms.
Although I don’t smoke every time I do yoga, I find that taking a hit or two beforehand keeps me curious and non-attached. I’m curious about how my hips must maneuver in order to get into an arm balance, rather than clinging onto the goal of getting into a desired pose. I’m curious about how my breath flows and my chest broadens in a deep back bend. For me, the curiosity cannabis promoted in my yoga made for a more genuine, safer, sustainable practice that encourages self-awareness and love.
Have you ever combined marijuana and yoga before, or are you interested in trying to? Share your thoughts below.