There’s a certain comfort in experiencing cannabis-enhanced yoga under the guidance of a teacher. Teachers are prepared with the tools to ensure a safe and enjoyable practice, and the task of finding appropriate strains, yoga poses, and carving out a welcoming space falls on the instructor, while you simply need to show up with your mat and an open mind. But if you’re not lucky enough to live in one of the few cities where classes are offered (guided classes are currently offered in Las Vegas, Toronto, and several cities in California and Colorado) knowing where to begin and how to get the most out of the combination is difficult, even daunting if you’ve never tried cannabis before.
Many, many (many!) people smoke cannabis before a yoga class, especially if they smoke on a regular basis. I first combined cannabis and yoga on a whim before a power yoga class and continued to smoke prior to class ever since. Despite this, it took about two years of smoking cannabis and doing yoga before I noticed how the two complimented each other, made mindfulness more accessible, and upgraded my yoga to more than a four letter word confined to a studio and sticky mat. If I had the guidance of educated instructors, articles, and youtube videos, like those easily accessible to the mainstream yoga world, it would have made the journey much more streamlined, so I’ve written this article to help beginner to experienced yoga lovers safely add cannabis to their practice and take their experience to higher levels.
- Know your state’s marijuana laws: Half of the states in the US have legalized marijuana consumption in some form, either medicinal or recreational. Find out if you’ll need to become a registered medical marijuana patient or whether you can purchase marijuana at all by doing a quick google search. This article from Governing.com has an updated map with the current laws on marijuana consumption, by state.
- Pick an indica or hybrid strain: Compared to sativas which tend to be energizing and produce a mental and emotional high, indicas and hybrids are better for a balanced yoga practice because they are generally more relaxing and grounding, relieve pain, and promote introspection. All the good vibes needed for a slow and yummy yoga flow.
- Start in a familiar space: People underestimate the value of a consistent home yoga practice, but it is one of the best ways to tune into yourself without external stimulation from other students or studio dogma. Find a quiet place in your home where you can have 30 minutes to an hour of uninterrupted time, the familiar surroundings will make your body and mind relax and get comfortable for what you’re about to experience.
- Start slow: If you’re a seasoned smoker, approach consumption with a beginners mind when you start to combine ganja with yoga – the effects of smoking and doing yoga are completely different than what is experienced when smoking and just sitting at home and hanging out with friends. Smoke less than you normally would and try to find a place where you feel buzzed but not stoned. Whether or not you are new to smoking, I recommend taking one hit of your preferred strain and waiting 10 minutes to see the effects. If you feel like you need more, smoke the same amount and wait another 10 minutes. Not only will this make sure you avoid over consumption (which often leads to feelings of anxiety and panic), but encourages patience, listening to your body, and a healthy relationship with cannabis.
- Keep it simple: Getting into handstands is the furthest thing from what you want to do after consuming cannabis. Again, this may challenge your patience and encourage you to explore a new part of your practice. Instead, sit for longer in seated mediation. Acknowledge your body, breath, and thoughts. Do several rounds of sun salutations. Take it as slow as you can and come down onto your knees when flowing from high to low plank. Move organically. Do tree pose and other simple poses that don’t look impressive from the outside, but feel good to you.
- Take a studio class: Making your studio class ganja-enhanced is a great way to integrate your practice. Familiarity is key when starting out, so go to a studio you know and like and take a few classes there without smoking first. When you go back for your cannabis-enhanced experience, arrive early enough to smoke beforehand. I typically smoke in my car before class – if you choose to do this make sure you remove your keys from the ignition and don’t drive until the class is over and you’re feeling clear headed. Arrive early enough to set up your mat, talk, and relax for some time before the class starts. Stay away from intense high flow classes, they move too fast and the poses can become challenging for even the most seasoned yogi when you’ve consumed cannabis. Stick to slower classes like yin, restorative, or (my personal favorite) beginner level hatha classes.
I hope these tips help you in your journey to deepen your yoga with cannabis! Do you have any tips for integrating cannabis with yoga? Have you tried any of these techniques or want to? Let me know your thoughts below!