For thousands of years, cannabis has held a sacred place within Buddhist and Hindu cultures of India. India is also the birthplace of yoga, with cannabis and yoga appearing at around the same time. The original connection between marijuana and yoga is not exactly known, but different historians have said the two were used together for spiritual and meditative aids during various events and ceremonies.
But can modern-day yogis use cannabis as part of their yoga practice? Many people are re-discovering how the plant can help with focus, breathing and internal rhythm for a better mind-body connection during their yoga practice.
A Brief History of Marijuana & Yoga
It’s believed that the Hindu deity Shiva, the destroyer and creator who also happens to be the Lord of Yogis, was rejuvenated from injury after consuming cannabis. Some people believe that this religious connection is what incorporated cannabis into yoga practice in the first place.
The Yoga Sutras, which were compiled in 400 AD, outline the 196 main principles of yoga. The Sutras mention the use of “herbs” to help with subtler attainments. Some people say that one of those herbs mentioned was cannabis.
Marijuana was also present when many of the modern yoga positions were developed. Some yoga positions we know of today were created in the 7th century by tantric cultures, who practiced a combination of Shaivite Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. They used cannabis regularly as part of their practice while they developed many aspects of modern Hatha Yoga.
Today, many Hindu holy men, or Sadhus, use cannabis for spiritual purposes. They believe that cannabis helps them break through perceived existential limits and use cannabis in all aspects of their prayer, including during yoga.
It's important to choose a cannabis strain that's relaxing but that keeps you sharp during your yoga practice.
Modern Day Cannabis Use
Cannabis can be used to deepen your yoga practice, whether in a cannabis-friendly studio or in the comfort of your own home.
At a ganja yoga session in Toronto, participants say consuming cannabis before class helps them be more aware of their body, quiet the voices in their mind and focus more on their breath.
Finding the Right Marijuana Product for Your Yoga Practice
As with all physical activity, it’s important that your dose of cannabis still allows you to be aware of your body and physical space. First, choose a consumption method that you enjoy and that helps you relax. Non-psychoactive high-cannabidiol (CBD) strains are a great choice because they can help you relax, but stay alert. Whatever cannabis product you select, the goal is to help you bring your yoga practice beyond where it’s ever been before.
If you’re interested in taking a cannabis-enhanced yoga class and live in Toronto, check out House of Yoga. They run marijuana-optional and ganga yoga sessions.