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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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!