420 Yoga: Combining Cannabis with Yoga For a Different Kind of High
Kristen Mico’s desire to teach yoga outside of a traditional yoga studio led her to offer ganja yoga classes at Prism House PDX. In teaching classes that combine yoga poses with pot, she observes, “cannabis creates a great opportunity to really focus on the subtle aspects of the body and breath in the poses. Certainly you could do a vigorous yoga cannabis class, but I choose to move deeper rather than faster. It’s not about a workout, but using the plant as medicine to release tension and realign the energetic body. A more relaxed and giggly atmosphere can certainly help in the process.”
By combining yoga and weed in her classes, Mico observes how marijuana can heighten her students’ awareness and provide insights into the mind body connection. “Cannabis drops inhibitions, sometime’s allowing for new embodied experiences, in a similar way to ‘dancing like no one is watching’ – which always feels the best. It can help one focus, giving those places of tension the attention they deserve. Cannabis builds community, creating an equalizer.”
The Rise of 420 Yoga
Mico’s observations appear to be common among other yoga instructors who see the connection between wellness and marijuana. As noted in Yoga Journal, many of India’s sadhus combined yoga, meditation and cannabis. (The popularity of cannabis in India can be traced back to the beginning of recorded history.)
Also, in the 1960s, Western thinkers, writers and artists such as Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Ram Dass, and the Beatles found enlightenment by combining these practices. With the classification of marijuana as a schedule 1 drug in 1970, any spiritual and wellness practices involving weed went underground.
Now that some states that have legalized cannabis for adult use, outlets as diverse as The New York Times, LA Weekly, and Business Insider reports that some yoga instructors now offer classes that bring together once again the elements of yoga, meditation, and cannabis.
Is 420 Yoga Effective?
So far the research into 420 yoga has been largely anecdotal. The online site HERB notes how many people take up yoga and marijuana for the same reasons, “to encourage relaxation, spiritual awareness, bliss and inner self-reflection. If each activity can help with those goals separately, combining the two might lead to even deeper awareness, greater bliss or enhanced relaxation.” As both yoga and medical marijuana have been used to ease chronic pain, the two could produce greater results when combined together. However, as marijuana remains a schedule 1 drug, little research has been done on the effectiveness of combining drugs and exercise.
Furthermore, as HERB notes, not all yogis support using cannabis. “Some practitioners argue that yoga is about ‘mastering the self’ without outside assistance. Marijuana use in this context may suggest that a person is dependent on the drug for that mastery. Attending a class in this drug-induced state may not allow for a clear, tranquil mind.”
Best Practices for Pairing Yoga with Marijuana
For those who want to enhance their yoga high with weed, Leafly, an online cannabis resource center, offers some best practices for those who choose to engage in 420 yoga.
Before enrolling in a 420 yoga class, experiment at home to ensue that one can remain calm, relaxed and balanced when doing a yoga pose while high.
As breathing exercises are a necessary component of yoga, smoking or vaping cannabis flower can impact one’s breathing. If inhaling weed causes one to become short of breath, then consider consuming cannabis pre-class or switching to another delivery method such as consuming an edible in order to enhance one’s yoga high.
Be sure to remain clear enough so one can pay attention to the instructor and not let one’s mind wander. Start out with small doses of weed. Then check in and see how this dose impacts one’s ability to focus.
Finally, for those searching for which strain to use for the best 420 high, Leafly offers this advice. “Indicas are known for delivering more of a body high and reducing anxiety, so that could be a good place to start. No matter what type of strain you choose, however, you may want to look for one with a higher CBD content such as Harlequin or AC/DC. Find one that is mellow and calming since anything that gets your mind racing may be counteractive to your reasons for doing yoga in the first place.”