Using Cannabis to Boost Your Yoga Practice
Imagine for a moment, you are in your yoga space, in child’s pose, stretching your body at the start of your yoga session. You try to empty your mind and focus on your body and being present but you’re distracted and can’t get connected. You can’t relax completely. There are too many thoughts swirling in your head. If only there was something that could help you connect your physical body with your inner consciousness.
And there is.
Cannabis in Yoga: Friend or Foe?
Yoga is based on exploring the connection between mind, body and spirit. Consistent yoga practice may help you to understand yourself at a deeper level and find ways to both open up and be more grounded. Sometimes the pressures of everyday life can distract us from being present and yoga and cannabis can help.
Yoga offers a means to de-stress and explore the mind-body connection. Similarly, many find the same with cannabis. You may have heard of ‘Ganja Yoga’, but perhaps you don’t know where to start or perhaps the unknowns seem intimidating.
And while substances like cannabis can affect the mind, they can also profoundly affect the body. Yoga, much like meditation, is considered a practice because you are constantly in practice. The goal is not to be perfect, but to aim to connect mind, body and spirit with the objective of overall wellness. The combination of cannabis and yoga can offer benefits to your practice that may surprise you.
Yoga requires mental and physical focus. Using cannabis in a controlled and appropriate manner could help you sharpen your focus and enhance your senses to get in touch with your body and mind at a deeper level. It can also prime your body for greater flexibility, looser and more relaxed joints and muscles. And it also helps to untether the mind from the busy-ness of life and allows you to channel breath, strength and intentions through the various positions.
The relationship between yoga and cannabis has a surprisingly long history. Research has identified using herbs as one of the methods of lifting the veil between consciousness and unconsciousness. In fact, according to Christopher Kilham (author of ‘The Lotus and Bud’) legend has it that the god Shiva, god of yoga and also the god of cannabis, gave humans yoga and cannabis so that they could enjoy total spiritual immersion and the relationship between the individual and the collective unconscious. The Koan team often speaks about the benefit of cannabis allowing us to check in versus check out. Cannabis allows you to be proactive and deeply engage in your practice, as opposed to altering your reality.
Any form of physical activity produces a level of euphoria, which is believed to be a result of the release of endorphins during physical activity. Similar to the familiar concept of “the Runner’s High,” a natural sensation of euphoria often felt by runners. Research has indicated that this state of bliss may not be caused by endorphins, but may in fact, be linked to endogenous cannabinoid release during exercise.
Studies show that CBD helps to slow the breakdown of anandamide, a neurotransmitter and the first endocannabinoid to be discovered, which extends feelings of relaxation and joy. Studies also indicate that CBD has 20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin , which could lead to quicker recovery, improved flexibility, looser joints and less soreness. By using cannabis during yoga, the experience may be more enriching than without it and the therapeutic effects following your session may be felt long after.
How Can Cannabis Enhance Your Yoga Practice?
Yoga itself helps you to relax and focus – and to explore the link between your mind and body. Using cannabis as part of a yoga session has the potential to add to these experiences in various ways:
Studies have demonstrated that cannabis in lower doses can help you to relax, as can yoga. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, however, cannabis may be a tool to coax your body and mind to relax more fully and deepen the mind-body connection.
Other conditions can also affect your chance of immersing yourself completely in a yoga session. If you are feeling anxious, or extremely fatigued – or are experiencing sleeplessness, there may be an imbalance in your cortisol, or stress hormone, levels. Cortisol puts us in a fight or flight response. It’s what kept us from getting eaten by saber tooth tigers back in our caveman days. But today, too much cortisol can often work against us.
Cannabis contains many cannabinoids and terpenes that can help take us out of fight or flight and pull us back into the present by relaxing the body, calming the mind.
Our brain, central nervous system, immune system and organs are all interconnected. The endocannabinoid system (ECS), located throughout the body, regulates many biological functions . Emerging studies on the ECS will help us better understand how it contributes to overall wellness. These parts of our body often react in different ways to emotional responses. Cannabis can help us better access the therapeutic benefits in any type of exercise. In yoga, one of the most challenging aspects, can be bringing your awareness of self and your consciousness into the moment. Cannabis can actively enhance the experience, and support a mind-body connection that is more grounded and inwardly focused.
Yoga considers the ‘mind’ to be a series of mental states. During a yoga session, you will pass through the experience of different states. It is important to set your intentions and identify what you are looking to achieve in your session. To allow yourself to focus effectively, find an appropriate dose that suits you and your individual needs. Always start slow and low and test what dose works best for you. Sometimes a microdose will be enough, sometimes you may need more. Some practitioners enjoy psychoactivity during yoga sessions, some want little to none. It is an individual decision as to what’s best for you and what your intentions are for your practice.
Sore muscles, limbs and joints can affect your lifestyle and outlook on the world. The process of slow stretching and relaxation associated with yoga will help to mobilize parts of your body in new ways. You may also feel unusual pain in muscles and joints. As cannabis is proven to help with pain relief and inflammation, using cannabis can be very beneficial to help to prepare your body for yoga and speed up recovery afterward.
How to Integrate Cannabis Into Your Yoga Practice: Things to Remember
You must keep yourself at the center of your yoga experience. If you choose to use cannabis as an addition to your yoga experience, allow yourself to experiment to find what suits you. You’ll want to ensure you find a dose that is low enough that you feel the benefits, but you don’t want it to be too high that you compromise motor function. Microdosing is generally the best place to start. Some products contain as little as 1 mg of THC. Again, going low and slow is always best. It may take some time to find the right dosage, but be patient and you’ll find your zone.
Dee Dussault, the founder of Ganja Yoga advises that you should make sure that the style of yoga you choose and the type of cannabis or consumption method you use, align with your reasons for doing yoga. For example relaxation yoga may be restful and you may want a calming blend. Or Iyengar may require some props and hand-eye coordination, so a product that helps offer harmony and balance may be the right one.
What to use
There are various cannabis products out there that you can choose from, with varying formulations, degrees of psychoactivity, and delivery methods. We offer a unique and effective way of ingesting cannabis in ways that will allow your body to process them, with an onset felt within 10-15 minutes – to enhance your yoga experience. The Koan cordials have been formulated for specific experiences, taking all the guesswork out of cannabis use. In other words, choosing the correct cordial will give you an easy way to achieve precisely what you intend. We recommend starting with our Balance blend. It’s precision crafted for a reliably harmonious experience that brings you to homeostasis. It will offer gentle and light psychoactivity, while allowing you to remain connected and grounded.
It is all about your experience, and our formulas allow you to make the choices that are best for you.
Yoga is grounded in an approach and philosophy that emphasizes purity of the body and mind. Check the certificate of analysis (COA) that comes with your product to ensure it is free of toxins or unwanted additives or ingredients.
Koan Cordials are produced using all natural ingredients, which are 100% plant-derived and blended from compliant-plus elements free of any filler, cutting agents, glycerin, pesticides or solvents.
Perfecting Your Yoga Ritual: Setting Ideas for a Solo Practice
When you decide to use cannabis to enhance your yoga experience, make choices that create a safe and calming environment that will allow you to set your intentions and mood.
Music is integral to your yoga experience. Choose the style and genre that means something to you. It does not need to be pan flutes, or spa music -- unless that’s what you’re into. Choose instrumental music rather than songs with lyrics, as lyrics subconsciously activate the mind and can become a distraction. Make sure that the music is something you enjoy and helps you to relax.
A yoga space may be well lit, or dim, depending on the style and who is participating. You may find that it is difficult to relax and allow yourself to focus inwardly in bright lights. Alternatively, you may find dim lighting distracting or even sleep-inducing. Bear in mind that cannabis may cause some people to be light sensitive, which may affect your choice of lighting. As a general approach, it may be most advisable to use muted lighting.
The temperature of a yoga room should be comfortable, so make sure that you can control the environment in a way that suits you. It’s best to keep the temperature slightly cool, unless you are practicing hot yoga. Group yoga sessions can often heat up the room, so be sure to dress comfortably and wear layers if you suspect you may need to adjust to accommodate for this. If you are using cannabis in any form, it may lower your body temperature, so keep this in mind as well.
During a yoga session senses often become heightened. Your sense of smell will be one of them. Aromas from terpenes or essential oils have been demonstrated to offer therapeutic effects, like relaxation or stimulation, depending on the scent you choose. You may want to consider incorporating aroma in your yoga space so make sure that you introduce fragrances that are subtle, but pleasing to you. Perhaps lighting a candle or using a diffuser and essential oils can elevate your environment.
Using cannabis to enhance your yoga experience is unique to you. Make an informed choice: find the appropriate formulation and ingest it using the best delivery method to match your needs. This will help you to keep the experience positive and deepen your yoga practice.
Reviewed for scientific accuracy by Skyler Quisenberry.