These days, there are several different types of yoga that practitioners can take part in that combine different postures, meditation, breathing techniques, and relaxation.
While yoga can be a sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping passion, it is also known for helping practitioners tap into their spirituality and connect a person's soul with the physical.
The inclusion of cannabis within the yoga community is a natural and easy one, given how the use of cannabis can help put a person's mind and body at ease, and promote mental focus. And now that recreational marijuana is legal in California and other states like Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, incorporating legal cannabis with yoga is becoming increasingly popular.
Known as "ganja yoga," this practice is exactly what it sounds like: smoking or otherwise indulging in cannabis products before practicing yoga.
As the stigmatization of the cannabis plant continues to weaken and its legalization becomes more widespread, the research being done on cannabis also becomes more common and in-depth. There are now a number of different studies that have shown the many powerful medicinal and wellness properties of marijuana and the cannabinoids within it.
Adding cannabis to a yoga session can help practitioners take advantage of these perks while simultaneously benefitting from yoga itself - the practice is growing in the industry as cannabis and yoga enthusiasts recognize the benefits of this collaboration.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of combining yoga with cannabis is the mindfulness aspect. A big part of yoga involves quieting the mind and connecting to the spirit, and the marijuana plant’s relaxing effect can help yogis achieve a heightened state of meditation.
But there are plenty of other health and wellness benefits of marijuana that yoga practitioners can take advantage of:
Reducing inflammation. Perhaps one of the most powerful healing benefits of marijuana is its ability to combat inflammation. While inflammation can be a good thing and is the body's way of responding to and healing a wound when injured, it can often have negative effects.
At the root of many ailments, chronic inflammation can cause several diseases and medical conditions, including arthritis and some types of cancers.
The cannabinoids in marijuana have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help combat a slew of different ailments. By interacting with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system in the body and brain, marijuana cannabinoids can effectively reduce the inflammatory response, as well as minimize all the negative effects that come with inflammation.
Reducing pain. When there’s a reduction in inflammation, a reduction in pain tends to follow. One of the more common reasons why medical marijuana is used is because of its pain-relieving effects.
Many people who use marijuana do so specifically to alleviate their pain. Whether they smoke it, eat it, or rub it onto their skin at specific sites on the body, marijuana can offer similar pain-relieving effects as pharmaceutical painkillers.
Relieving pain can help to enhance mobilization of the body, which can be helpful when practicing yoga. It can also help relax and loosen the muscles in preparation for the challenging stretches that tend to come with yoga.
Relieving anxiety. While there are traditional medications that can be prescribed to combat anxiety, marijuana has been shown to help relax the mind naturally.
Since yoga is a practice that is designed to quiet the mind and relax the soul, incorporating marijuana into the mix can serve an important purpose and strengthen a person's ability to combat anxiety.
Heightening the senses. Marijuana consumption is known to alter the mind and create a euphoric state, which encourages the senses to be heightened. Adding cannabis to the practice can provide a shortcut to enlightenment and help practitioners get more out of their sessions than they might have without it, especially for newbies.
Lowering inhibitions. Certain yoga poses can seem very uncomfortable, especially for those who are new to the practice. As such, they may be a bit hesitant to go all out with their poses and inherently limit what they can get out of their session. But marijuana can help people lower their inhibitions and try different moves that they may otherwise be apprehensive about.
While different yoga classes may do something a little different, they all obviously incorporate the use of marijuana with the practice of yoga.
While yogis can smoke their cannabis before they arrive to class, one particular Ganja Yoga studio in San Francisco led by Dee Dussault encourages students to get there a few minutes early and consume it just before the poses start. Some classes may even have different marijuana products available to sample, including edibles and tinctures.
Throughout the class, participants can take smoke breaks every now and then to maintain their "zen." Once class ends, students are usually encouraged to stick around to sober up following a puff-and-pose session to ensure everyone's safety. Dussault also has a ganja yoga studio in LA.
But Dussault's classes aren't the only ganja yoga sessions that take place in the Golden State and surrounding states. There are plenty of others for yogis to choose from, and there will likely be many more to pop up as the legalization of marijuana continues.
Lit Yoga is Los Angeles' first marijuana-only yoga studio, co-founded by Hannah Mason. The beginning of each class involves a cannabis and tea ceremony where students sip on herbal tea and pass joints around for the first few minutes of class before the posing really starts.
The cannabis tea ceremony serves as a way to be intentional about using marijuana and preparing the mind and body for the session to come.
While California might sound like an obvious place for ganja yoga classes to take place, other states have their own cannabis-yoga studios that are popping up. In Denver, Colorado, Bend & Blaze Held led by yoga instructor Amanda Hintz blends a great workout with cannabis to encourage a deeper, experience.
And Ganjasana in nearby Boulder, led by Rachael Carlevale, offers both co-ed and women's-only cannabis yoga classes, as well as cannabis yoga teacher certifications.
Although there aren’t many cannabis yoga studios in many other parts of the US because of the issue of legalization, there are still plenty of marijuana yoga meetups that take occur all throughout the country where recreational cannabis use is legal.
Yoga can be an invigorating workout that can strengthen the muscles, but it can also be a way to develop a deeper connection to the spirit. And for those who are looking to take their yoga practice to new heights, participating in a ganja yoga class can potentially help them achieve a more intense and focused state of mind while benefiting from all the miraculous properties that marijuana possesses.