Cannabis-enhanced Yoga to Cultivate Calm

Finding stillness and moments of calm within your day is often a luxury, especially during the holiday season, but carving out time for relaxation and mindfulness is a necessity as they both provide huge relief for stress, bring thoughts into the present moment, and increase our sense of well-being. Pairing certain strains of cannabis and restorative yoga poses can be a great way to cultivate calm as they both have soothing effects on our nervous system which encourages relaxation. Cannabis’s effects on our awareness of sensation paired with deep breathing and restorative stretches brings your mind to a calm, focused state. Here are a few poses and cannabis strains to cultivate calm in your body and mind.

Twisting Balasana (Twisting Child’s Pose)

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This restorative pose may not look like much but is great for reducing stress. This shape also lengthens the spine, releases tension in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips, and gently massages the abdominal organs which improves digestion.

Getting In and Out

Place the short end of a bolster (or a few very fluffy pillows) against your right hip and sit with your knees to the left. Rest your left thigh on your right foot. Turn to the right and place your hands on either side of the bolster. Walk your hands forward to extend your torso over your bolster than lay down with the front of your body supported by the bolster as much as possible. Let your forearms rest on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders. Turn your cheek left or right depending on how deep of a stretch you’d like to feel in your neck. Focus on steady even breathing in this gentle twist. Stay in the shape for up to 2 minutes then switch sides. Come out of the pose by placing your hands under your shoulders and pushing up.

Pair this with Birthday Cake Kush, a sweet indica-dominant hybrid that soothes the body, is great for relieving pain and anxiety, and in larger doses provides a heavy eyed body melting high – a great floating sensation when you’re supported by comfortable props.

Supported Baddha Konasana (Supported Bound Angle Pose)

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This is a gentle hip, inner thigh, and groin opener that also alleviates mild anxiety and menstrual discomfort. Be extra cautious getting into this shape if you have a knee injury, or skip this pose entirely.

Getting In and Out

Sit on the edge of a bolster or folded blanket. Bring the soles of your feet together, lined up evenly from toe to heel. Let your knees rest open, feeling free to support them with extra blocks or blankets if there is too much sensation in the groin. Keep your back upright, and support yourself with your fingertips on the floor behind you. Stay here for up to 5 minutes. To come out, slowly straighten your legs.

Pair this with Blue Dream, a favorite for a balanced body-mind high. This sativa-dominant strain gives a dose of mild euphoria and a deeply relaxing full-body high – one of my favorites.

Baddha Hasta Uttanasana (Dangling Pose)

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This pose provides a gentle stretch for the lower back, warms up the hamstrings and quadriceps, massages the abdominal organs, increases blood flow to the brain, and calms the body and nervous system.

Getting in and Out

Stand with your feet parallel and hip distance apart. Generously bend your knees and fold forward. Clasp opposite elbows with your hands, and let your head hang. You can sway your hips here or shake your head yes and no, gentle movements but always staying mindful of the breath. Stay in this pose for up to 2 minutes before releasing your hands to the floor and rolling up slowly, with your head coming up last.

Pair this with Penny Wise a CBD-rich strain with a very mellow high, which can turn to a good night’s sleep in larger amounts.

Vrkasana (Tree Pose)

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This pose increases focus while calming the mind and strengthening legs. Try doing this pose next to a wall for extra balancing support, and pay extra attention to your face while you balance. Balancing poses are the first place we tense up and stop breathing in order to hold a pose, but in this tree pose see if you can relax your brow, find your drishti (a non-moving object to look at), and try smiling!

Getting In and Out

Stand in mountain pose with both feet rooted evenly into the earth, toes unclenched and thighs gently pressing back. Kickstand your right foot so that your toes are on the floor and the sole of your right foot rests on your left ankle. Gently press your right knee open for more of a groin and hip stretch. Bring your hands to Anjali Mudra and start to be curious. Play in your shape. As you find balance, lift the right foot higher on your left leg and let it rest on the calf or inner thigh, not your knee. Be a wavy tree and sway your arms in the air. Embrace any shakiness or unsteadiness you may feel as you move. Remember to breathe. Stay here for up to 1 minute. To release, bring your palms back to your heart, lower your right foot down and switch sides.

Pair this with Girl Scout Cookies, a strong sativa-dominant hybrid that gives a potent euphoric high, stick to low doses for the best results. This strain reduces anxiety, and combining it’s mildly energizing effects with tree pose’s focusing ability creates a high like a balanced and mellow caffeine buzz without the crash.

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)

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Forward folds promote introspection and relaxation, and this pose provides a great stretch to the low back, soothes headache and relieves stress, and opens the hamstrings. Most people tend to force themselves into a deep fold, but the intention isn’t to jam yourself into a pose and hold it. Use this shape to listen to your body, practice honoring yourself in the present moment, and move with your breath rather than your ego.

Getting In and Out

Sit on the edge of a folded blanket with your legs extended. Tilt your pelvis forward. Hook a strap (or belt, or bathrobe drawstring) on the balls of your feet and hold one side of the strap in each hand. Wrap the strap around your hands so you can hold on without straining. Slowly fold forward, finding depth over time. Soften your shoulders away from your ears. Notice whether your jaw or eyebrows are tense. Breathe here for up to 5 minutes, deepening the stretch if your body invites you to over time. When you are ready to come out, engage your core as you inhale and roll up one vertebrae at a time.

Pair this with Cannatonic, a CBD-rich flower with a mild taste and high. Due to it’s high CBD to THC ratio, this strain is often suggested for treating anxiety and is incredibly relaxing.

Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall)

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This is a wonderful passive inversion which allows us to experience the calming benefits of inversions without having to get into a headstand.

Getting In and Out

Sit beside a wall with your right hip right up against it, then swing your legs up the wall while using your hands to help you lay down. If you have tighter hips and hamstrings, getting your bottom right up against the wall will be challenging. Gently reach through both heels as you extend your legs. You can also practice this pose with a bolster to elevate the hips – if so, your bottom will fall into the space between the wall and bolster. For more of  a groin stretch, try a wide legged variation. Come out of the pose by drawing your knees into your chest and stay here for a few breaths, then press up into a seated position.

Pair this with Headband, an indica strain that is especially great in small doses. This strain gives most people the sensation of their head being gently hugged which can be very relaxing, and works extra well with the soothing headiness of this inversion.

Supported Matsyasana (Supported Fish Pose)

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This gentle pose expands the chest, relieves shoulder and neck tension, and naturally deepens breathing. Focused, deep breathing is a great way to slow down thoughts and cultivate calm.

Getting In and Out

Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Place the short end of a bolster right behind your tailbone and lay down on the bolster. Your entire back should be supported. Rest your palms by your side, facing upwards. Let your chin be neutral and inline with your forehead rather than pointed upwards your head tilting back. If you experience lower back pain shift your bolster further away from your tailbone. You can stay here for as long as 20 minutes.

Pair this with Blackberyy Kush, a heavy, body relaxing indica that is known for relieving pain and stress. This strain is great for promoting sleep, so can be the perfect calming combination for a good night’s rest when paired with a supportive fish pose.

All of these poses and strains to cultivate calm are all-levels friendly, can be done for short or longer periods of time, and work well individually or as part of a relaxing sequence. Each of these shapes are naturally calming on their own, so if cannabis doesn’t feel appropriate you can always do the shape alone. Carve out time for relaxation and cannabis-enhanced self care, and try these calming pose and strain combinations. Let me know about your experience if you do!

Om Shanti, friends, and stay blazed!

Setting Intentions for a Deeply Connected High

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Do you ever take the time to do nothing but smoke? I mean, roll up a good blunt or joint and smoke it while doing literally nothing else but being present. At the most just enjoying the smoke while chatting with your friend or love, or sitting out on your patio in silence observing traffic as the outdoor climate awakens your skin. Because I’m so used to the act of smoking I tend to smoke while sending emails, while reading textbooks, or scrolling through my phone, and I’ve noticed dividing my attention like this takes away from the whole high I could be experiencing.

In our society multitasking is considered a positive, but when we spread our attention between several different things it’s impossible to experience one thing fully or complete a task to the best of our ability. And when it comes to consuming cannabis, not being fully present for your high bares the questions Why smoke in the first place if you’re not mentally there to experience it? Do you consume cannabis to remove yourself from the present moment or to help immerse yourself in it? Are your smoke sessions a passive and disconnected activity with no conscious intention besides getting high in that moment? Whatever the answers may be, it’s okay to be aware of them without adding any extra narrative or judgments.

A few days ago I put aside my other tasks to smoke some Gorilla Gold (indica-dominant hybrid) my husband had rolled up for us to share. I set the intention to be present, ignore all distractions, and focus on being in the space at that very moment. We lit the blunt and raised it in dedication to enjoying time together after a full day of work. I noticed how the blunt smelled and tasted, how the cannabis was making me feel, how I was so comfortable being in my home with my husband smoking on our Friday night, all of which were effecting my experience. Being the most present I could created a much stronger connection with my high and gave me greater control of it.

Although I had smoked this same flower before I had never done so with mindfulness and intention setting, so this time I was much more engaged with the experience. The strain’s true indica effects gave me a wonderful body-enveloping high as I lifted my limbs as if moving through water – slow and steady with each micro-movement feeling sweet. I moved slowly and consciously to feel these intricate sensations, gave myself a good morning stretch that made my body feel as if it had been contracted for most of the day and was just now opening up. The sofa hugged my body from all sides and sunk me into the cushions, giving me a strange sense of safety and comfort. I was caught in the flow of my body movement and it’s sensations, euphoric, out of my thoughts, and still able to engage with my surroundings while enjoying how cannabis was enhancing the experience.

The strain’s true indica effects gave me a wonderful body-enveloping high as I lifted my limbs as if moving through water – slow and steady with each micro-movement feeling sweet.

Disconnecting from or finishing other tasks before lighting up acts as a reminder to practice mindfulness while consuming cannabis and deeply engages you to the effects of your high. This awareness helps us maintain a healthy relationship with this powerful herb while bringing enjoyment to being present rather than falling into the stress building mindlessness of multi-tasking. And with all of your attention focused on actually experiencing your high, it is easier to feel the vast variety of effects a strain is having on your body, learn how certain strains show up in you/whether or not they work for you, and learn how you react to the high mentally, emotionally, and physically therefore making it easier to monitor and responsibly dose yourself. This awareness can ultimately make you so deeply connected to the full extent and experience of your high that you smoke less than you normally would do when your attention is preoccupied with other thoughts and tasks.

Outside of setting an intention of presence with your flower, some other ways you can practice mindfulness for a deeply connected high are to be aware of what kind of cannabis you’re consuming. Is it an indica, sativa, or hybrid? Knowing the strain greatly influences how much you’ll consume and what you’ll experience.

Smell the nugs before consuming them – cannabis is a flower after all, and most strains smell delicious and pungent. Notice whether the scent reminds you of fruit, earth, cheese, pine, a memory, or anything else specific. Does it make your mouth water or is it off-putting? How does the smell make you feel?

Disconnecting from or finishing other tasks before lighting up acts as a reminder to practice mindfulness while consuming cannabis and deeply engages you to the effects of your high.

Taste the cannabis or whatever you’ve chosen to roll it in. Take slow, occasional hits so you can experience the different flavors that come up and gradually escalate your high. For the purest taste I recommend smoking out of a clean bowl and using a hemp wick to light the cannabis, this way there’s no taste of butane from the lighter.

Take notes. What’s the name of the strain? What shop did you get it from? What time did you smoke? How did you smoke and how much? What did you feeling while smoking? Take notes on this and whatever else comes to mind on a scrap of paper, a notebook, or your phone – just letting it flow and add to the deeper connection and understanding of your high.

Start with setting an intention to be present with your cannabis and these other mindful habits will follow. If you like to smoke in the morning (it’s not for everyone, but I find certain strains like Pineapple Express are energizing, focusing, and induce productivity), smoke your first bowl and set an intention to be present with it. I find that doing this in the morning makes mindful choices occur naturally as the day goes on. Put down your phone, listen to a podcast, sit or lay comfortably, sip water, and smoke. Notice how the high creeps up and expresses itself over time. Notice how your body and mind reacts to this, without any extra narratives or judgments, just feel this deep connection with your high. A deeper connection with your high means a deeper connection with yourSelf.

4 Ways to Stay Calm & Grounded When Your High Isn’t

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Many of us have a story of consuming cannabis and it hitting a lot harder than we’d anticipated, getting a quick lesson in dosing and discovering our “subjective therapeutic window” which Uwe Blesching describes in The Cannabis Health Index as a personal dosage that is just enough to feel the desired benefits of cannabis, and not an excessive amount that can counteract these effects. You can find your subjective therapeutic window by taking a small hit of a joint, bowl, or other smoking apparatus, wait 10 minutes or more to see the effects, then if you want to a stronger effect, take the same amount again and wait another 10 minutes.

Discovering your subjective therapeutic window is important for a comfortable and enjoyable high, but until then you may face frustration with consuming too little, and more likely, have an unpleasant trip from consuming too much THC, so it helps to be prepared with tools to stay calm and grounded even when your high seems to be getting out of hand. Here are a 4 tips and techniques that have helped me prevent and coax down getting too high,

  1. Always have CBD products on hand

CBD is the yin to THC’s yang. Where THC produces the psychoactive mental high, CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis that does not give any mind altering effects and is generally used to treat pain, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and as an anti-inflammatory. CBD is extremely effective in taming the psychoactive influence of THC, allowing consumers to experience THC’s therapeutic properties. CBD tinctures are a great tool to de-escalate a high as the dropper makes dosing easy, and sublingual application allows for fast acting relief from an uncomfortable trip.

2. Practice 2:1 breathing

2:1 breathing is a deep, diaphragmatic breath where the exhale lasts twice as long the inhale. This is beneficial because the heart beats slower on an exhale which is generally calming and reduces fear and anxiety – common symptoms for someone who’s consumed more than their ideal dose of THC. This breathing practice is used often in yoga and meditation to bring focus to the present moment, give a soft focus to the practitioner’s mind, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, our internal system responsible for rest and digestion which sends signals to the mind and body to relax.

When you’ve smoked too much cannabis, practicing 2:1 breathing for a few minutes in a seated position can calm your nerves and also give you a focus on your inhales and exhales, drawing your senses to inward rather than to outward sensory stimuli.

3. Be mindful of your thoughts

Once you get caught up in the fact that you’re just too high, it’s easy to get carried away to a point of panic. Your thoughts and breath have a lot of power in affecting how you feel. If you’re in a panic and only repeat thoughts that reinforce this, you’re facilitating more thoughts that will make the situation feel even worse. Mindfulness is known to reduce stress and when combined with 2:1 breathing is a great way to activate the parasympathetic system and cultivate calm. While practicing 2:1 breathing be mindful of any thoughts that come up. Notice, is this thought helpful? Is this thought accurate? Do not actively try to change your thoughts, just acknowledge them as they come in, notice what kind of thought it is, don’t judge it or yourself, then let the thought go and bring your attention back to your breath. And remind yourself that any negative effects that you’re feeling from the bad trip will soon pass.

4. Move with curiosity and non-judgement

Judging yourself when you get too high is an easy place to go to, but switching this action to curiosity creates an opportunity to explore yourself and actively learn from the situation. I recently took an Anusara cannabis yoga workshop (my first time doing a cannabis-enhanced class under someone else’s instruction) where I smoked a kief covered joint and scoffed medicated gummie bears – it was heaven. We started the class and after a few poses I noticed my hands were shaking as I pressed them together in samasthiti. I could feel a vibration through my whole body. There were two perspectives I could have taken in this situation; one embraced curiosity and the other a critique. Rather than scold myself for how I shook in the pose, I noticed the energy and excitement the cannabis caused in me, how it effected my practice, how my breath and heartbeat were magnified, how I could be curious and love the way I moved and my capabilities at this moment. This shifted my thoughts out of whether I had smoked more than I should to a state of calm and child-like curiosity, where I was happy to learn and explore my body and mind as if it were new. If you practice yoga, I recommend doing slow rounds of classic sun salutations and pay extra attention to the breath and the way your body feels. Notice without judging. Stand in a strong samasthiti or mountain pose with your feet rooted, legs engaged, and tailbone lengthening to the floor. Be compassionate with yourself, see if you can move with a beginner’s curiosity, and stay with yourself until you feel calm and grounded.

Why Cannabis-Enhanced Group Yoga is Life

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In the minutes before our Friday night yoga class starts students arrive, set up their mats, hug and reflect over the week with old and new friends, and unwind over joints, bowls, communal bongs, and other smoking apparatus they’ve brought along. The vibes are high and everyone’s ready to unwind from the week with some ganja, slow yoga, and community. If I spot a few new faces I throw a question out to the room:

Before today, who’s ever smoked cannabis before doing yoga?

The students give each other a cheeky smile before admitting that although they keep it low profile, they smoke before doing yoga almost all of the time. It’s become a running joke in class that ganja yoga is actually America’s secret exercise of choice. In many of Bryan Kest’s power yoga classes he jokes that all of the students have probably been smoking joints in the parking lot before class – and I finally realize he isn’t just talking about me. Whether students smoke cannabis before yoga for increased bodily awareness, to relieve pain, or just because it feels good, everyone in my living room turned candlelit and smoke-filled yoga studio agrees – smoking weed and doing yoga with other people is a wholly different experience from smoking and stretching alone at home or lighting up just before going to a traditional yoga class.

Smoking cannabis in public with other adults just to unwind, heal, and meditate is a strangely liberating experience. Both traditional yoga and cannabis-enhanced yoga can be transformative, but one way they vary is that unlike a regular yoga class where you may never communicate with the people on the mats around you, cannabis-enhanced yoga comes with abundant community as joints are passed around and the space is open for introductions and connecting since students start arriving thirty minutes before the class.

At the end of a particular session, incense is burning as we all chatter over tea and share snacks to sooth a serious case of the munchies, some people reclined on their mats killing off the rest of a joint. One of my now regular students is blissed out and shares with the room that her experience made her feel deeply connected both to herself and everyone in the room – as if we were all moving and breathing as one with each other and with the universe. She’s not the first to express this and the room nods in agreement – one of the major effects of smoking weed is that it makes everything more profound by increasing awareness. Even though the yoga practice is very individualized to encourage honoring their own body, the simple acts of gathering, breathing, smoking, and moving consciously together reminds us of the fact that when stripped to the bare minimum we are all after the same feelings of deeper connection and understanding.

Some students try cannabis-enhanced yoga at home after loving the class, and while they enjoy it, the overall feeling doesn’t match that of smoking ganja specifically chosen to flow well with a sequence created to match their state, and led by an instructor who knows exactly how the practice feels and can safely guide them through it. Smoking openly with other like-minded yogis and making friends is another bonus students miss at home.

I love cannabis-enhanced group yoga compared to regular yoga because I develop a much deeper relationship with my students. We sit and talk for ages about non-yoga related things and get to know each other outside of class. Naturally introverted students are more likely to get involved during class and find a once anxious connection with cannabis to be diminished. There is no serious studio stigma about what a yoga class should be; we laugh during class, use lot of props, get out of poses to smoke more, make funny sounds, we create the space for each other just to move and be without judgement for a few hours every Friday night, carrying the good vibes through the week until we all meet again.

 

The Perfect Yoga & Cannabis Pairings

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Jack Herer, a sativa strain

There are tons of niche styles of yoga just waiting to be enhanced with cannabis, but similar to how strains of weed can bring out great feelings when the conditions are optimal, I believe certain cannabis types and strains can bring out the best of specific kinds of yoga. There are three kinds of cannabis: indica (relaxing high), sativa (energizing high), and hybrid which is a combination of the first two. In this post I’ll explain the effects of sativa and indica, and list some styles of yoga they are best paired with as well as specific strains I like for a comfortably enhanced experience.

I  N D I C A

I almost exclusively offer indica during my cannabis-enhanced yoga classes. Compared to sativa, indica has a lower THC to CBD ratio – CBD has no mind-altering qualities and diminishes some of the negative effects that THC can sometimes have (anxiety and short-term memory impairment) making it a great option for the group setting of cannabis-enhanced yoga classes, or even for smoking prior to a regular yoga class. Indica is generally relaxing and grounding, and provides a body high that promotes introspection. This makes it easier to rein in a wandering mind and focus on internal sensations. Cannabis in general acts as a muscle relaxant so the relaxing properties of indica make it especially blissful with styles of yoga that open up the body with props and extended time in poses.

Specific strains I use include Blue Mystic, Bubba Kush, and Hindu Kush that leave me feeling dreamy, uplifted, euphoric, and a little bit hungry (a post-yoga smoothie has never tasted so good!).

Indica pairs perfectly with slow flows, therapeutic and passive yoga styles where unwinding and relaxation are key:

  • restorative
  • gentle
  • yin
  • hatha (beginner level)
  • tune up
  • iyengar (beginner level)

S A T I V A

If I’m smoking sativa prior to doing yoga I’ll usually do a faster paced or more challenging class, but I don’t get too crazy with arm balances unless I’m familiar with them and I steer completely away from inversions. Sativa generally increases alertness while stimulating and energizing the mind. This works well when paired with breath-to-movement styles of yoga like vinyasa or power yoga because that increased awareness can be focused towards finding a connection between mind, body, and breath in challenging poses and continuous movement. Sativa has a greater THC to CBD ratio than indica so offers more of a cerebral and emotional high- this means lots of internal philosophizing can happen as every action and thought becomes profound. This can work well in a studio you’re comfortable with as instructors usually theme classes around a question or idea and sativa allows you to connect more with this, although your mind might not stay on that idea for long before it finds something else to ponder on.

Specific strains I use include Jack Herer, Sour Diesel, and Super Lemon Haze because they spark creativity and deep thinking, while keeping spirits high.

Sativa pairs perfectly with breath-to-movement flows and styles where you have a focus or challenge.

  • vinyasa (beginner-intermediate level)
  • power (beginner-intermediate level)
  • hatha (beginner-intermediate level)
  • ashtanga (beginner level)

For simplicity I didn’t include hybrid strains since what kind of yoga the individual strain pairs well with depends largely on whether it is indica or sativa dominant. But you can assume if a hybrid is indica-dominant it will pair well with the styles of yoga I listed above for preferred indica and yoga pairings, and the same goes for sativa-dominant hybrids and and the list of sativa and yoga pairings.

For almost every yoga style there is a cannabis strain that pairs perfectly with it, but whether I’m high or not (but especially when I’m high) I don’t do bikram yoga. The intense heat and movement just don’t go with being in an elevated state and is a recipe for feeling light-headed and uncomfortable. Whatever the style of yoga you choose to enhance with cannabis, be sure to try cannabis-enhanced yoga at home first before taking some beginner level classes at a studio (even if you have experience with the class), and always consume less cannabis than you think you need.

I hope you find these tips useful! Do you have any specific strains you like to do yoga with? Have you tried any of these combinations or do you want to? Let me know in the comments below!

Ujjayi Pranayama & Smoking Cannabis: One Breath

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Something I like to go over before the start of my cannabis-enhanced yoga classes is how to practice ujjayi pranayama (a breathing technique used in yoga), and how to smoke cannabis to get the strongest results possible. Essentially, these techniques have exactly the same principles; both ujjayi pranayama and smoking cannabis require a smooth and deep full inhale into the lungs and belly, followed by holding the breath at the top of the inhale, then a slow release of breath on the exhale.

A common mistake people new to smoking cannabis make is to assume it’s the same as smoking a cigarette, so they only bring the smoke into their mouth and then exhale right away. This is why the first few times people smoke cannabis they complain that they didn’t get “high” at all. Even some of my long term smoker students find that their smoking methods tend to be more shallow, not fully expanding their lungs to take in all of the smoke. Learning how to do ujjayi breathing greatly improves smoking techniques as it increases the expansion of the lungs, allowing for more cannabis to be absorbed into the capillaries and blood vessels, which produces a stronger high.

What is ujjayi pranayama?

Also known as ocean breath or victorious breath, ujjayi is produced by inhaling and exhaling through the nose, with a slight constriction at the back of the throat to create a sound a lot like ocean waves. Ujjayi breathing is practiced before meditation and during most yoga posture classes as a way to focus the mind, guide the body through pose transitions, increase body heat, and improve oxygenation within the body. For me, the most useful part of ujjayi pranayama is that it cultivates awareness. Since ujjayi breathing is meant to be smooth and unrestrained, the moment it becomes short or choppy it’s a clear message that we’ve pushed too hard and need to lessen the intensity of a pose until the breath returns to calm ujjayi.

How to do ujjayi breathing

  1. For beginners, I suggest laying on your back in savasana (corpse pose) or supta baddha konasana (reclining bound angle pose). Place one palm on your stomach and the other on your heart so you can feel your stomach and chest rise and fall with your breath.
  2. Keep your lips gently sealed as you take a long, slow, deep inhale starting from the pit of your stomach. Feel the oxygen in your belly as your palm rises. As you continue to inhale, feel your breath enter your chest and then your throat. Once the breath enters your throat, hold it for a brief moment, then open your mouth and make a “HHHHAAAA” sound as you slowly exhale. Feel your palms fall as your chest and stomach flatten.
  3. Repeat step 2 three times, trying to make your inhales last just as long as your exhales (ie. if you inhale for five beats, exhale for five).
  4. On your next inhale take your breath all the way to the top and hold for a brief moment again. This time keep your lips sealed and try to recreate that “HHHHAAAA” sound as you exhale through your nose. This creates a slight constriction in the back of your throat, and the breath released will sound like ocean waves.
  5. Practice this several times, just creating the throat constriction on your exhales. When you are ready, create that constriction as you inhale. Keep this up for 5 breaths (this is full ujjayi pranayama), then return to your normal breathing. If you’ve tried ujjayi pranayama before you may go for longer.

Ujjayi applied to smoking cannabis

As your ujjayi breathing evolves and you start to gain more control over the length of your inhales and exhales as well as the expansion of your lungs, your ability to take in more cannabis and hold it will improve. Unlike cigarettes, when you smoke cannabis it is important to hold the smoke in your lungs to feel the effects. You won’t need to recreate the constriction in your throat while smoking though, simply use the steps for proper ujjayi pranayama while omitting that part, and when you reach the top of your inhale take in one more sip of fresh air. You’ll take in more smoke and get the most out of your ganja.

I hope these techniques find you well and answer some questions you may have about how to smoke cannabis or perform proper ujjayi pranayama 🙂 If you have any questions, ask me in the comments below! Let me know if you try any of these, how you find them, or if you have any suggestions of your own!

How To Add Cannabis To Your Yoga Routine

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!