Cannabis use has been associated with Indian culture for hundreds of years now, thanks especially to the image charas-fond Sadhus proliferating around the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Yoga – despite being quite physically demanding on occasion – is also associated with marijuana, especially as the history of the two are intimately linked. Shiva, who is considered to be the first Yogi, is said to have been rejuvenated by cannabis, and spiritual use of bhang and other marijuana extracts is used in Hindu ceremonies all across India.
Nowadays, you can even get weed-friendly Yoga classes, just as you get weed-friendly gyms. If you’re interested in trying marijuana and yoga apply for your medical marijuana card here. In the meantime here are 5 ways cannabis can help you achieve Yoga zen …
1. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Though there is no direct reference to cannabis in the Yoga Sutras, “herbs” are definitely mentioned (“The subtler attainments come with birth or are attained through herbs, mantra, austerities or concentration…”). There is also the fact that Yogis throughout India’s past and present are certainly fond of cannabis, and these are the people who invented Yoga! Many other Yogis have also written verses exalting marijuana and its use in several other Hindu scriptures.
The Yoga Sutras also suggests that these herbs helps give users siddhis, or magical powers, when combined with yoga. This may be a bit of an embellishment, but who are we to argue? However, we will say that understanding the history of Yoga and its relationship with the holy herb will give you a better understanding and increase the likeliness of reaching that zen.
(Please inform us if a mixture of cannabis and Yoga has given you psychic powers, though – that’s one area of medical marijuana which doesn’t seem to get much research funding!)
Focus is a huge part of Yoga. With focus, distractions can melt away, and one can start thinking about controlling their breathing (Pranayama) – essential for Yoga, and immensely helpful when learning to hold your bodyweight in various positions. Cannabis can help with focus and get rid of whatever other anxieties are worrying you on the day.
Yoga is all about the relaxation. Being relaxed helps loosen muscles, which in turn helps keep them flexible. Being relaxed and flexible helps avoid injuries, enables muscles to work more efficiently and help your joints move in their full range of motion. Yoga can also improve core strength and increase blood flow to the muscles, allowing muscles to develop properly. With all these benefits and the relatively low chance of injury, it’s no wonder so many athletes incorporate Yoga into their training regimes, from wrestlers to tennis stars.
Cannabis is an excellent muscle relaxant for most people, and for some could prove to be a pre-Yoga session limbering up. Other may prefer to leave the cannabis to after the Yoga session and separate their “exercise time” and “420 time”. Either way, you do what’s best for you.
4. The Pain
One of the best things about Yoga is that it’s great exercise without the need for high impact training methods. There is no 300 lb monster made of muscle running at you full speed to tackle you. There is no one pinning you down on the floor and choking you. There are no feet pounding on the concrete and causing all sorts of potential injuries.
However, this doesn’t mean that Yoga doesn’t involve some pain. Being able to stretch yourself into some of the positions required for Yoga takes some time (and yes, pain), and getting a sore back after a Yoga session is a common complaint. A post-Yoga vape could well help beat the pain and soreness caused by holding all those Yoga poses.
5. Introspection and Awareness
Many people who combine marijuana and Yoga feel that it helps them “keep in touch with themselves”. They feel as if they’re more aware of their breathing and what their body is doing. Marijuana may also help put people in a more meditative state, thereby allowing for introspection.
Though Yoga and marijuana go hand-in-hand in some schools of Hindu philosophy, this is by no means the full picture. There are some schools that are more conservative, and will say that putting the two together will detract from the Yoga experience. Whether this is the case or not for you, that’s up to you to decide.
*Photo credit: @ganjayoga