You show up for yoga class and situate your mat and other belongings, beginning to feel out the day. You might talk with some classmates or your instructor before sparking up a joint (or vape) to share before the class starts. You feel relaxed, inspired, and ready to find the ultimate balance of breath; you are slowly and comfortably enfolded by the warm glow of THC.
This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill studio session. This is totally enhanced yoga practice.
While the United States yoga movement was popularized starting in the 1970s, ancient Hindu cultures have long practiced the art using cannabis, or bhang, as a traditional accompaniment to the Tantric spiritual process.
Now, the trend is picking up again as the stigma against cannabis use continues to dissolve into widespread social curiosity. More people are interested in using cannabis to enhance personal health, wellness and spirituality now than ever before, and its relaxing and introspective side effects pair perfectly with those of yoga.
It’s a steadily weakening stereotype that physically healthy individuals wouldn’t smoke cannabis. Yoga, however, serves as a sort of Venn diagram demonstrating that many health-conscious people do in fact smoke pot.
Yoga is different from other activities in that the practitioner must access quiet and peaceful mental states and breathing, while in the midst of sometimes strenuous and complex strength exercises. For the typical stressed and overworked American who can’t get the worries of the day out of mind, cannabis is helping to make those peaceful states accessible, and allowing people to be acutely engaged with their bodies for the first time.
Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Dee Dussault, the founder of Ganja Yoga, and participating in an intimate class in San Diego with some of my girlfriends in the cannabis industry. According to her website, Dee was the first yoga instructors outside of India to offer cannabis-enhanced yoga, and has taught tantric yoga classes and private sessions in the Bay Area, Portland, Toronto, Vancouver, Copenhagen, Costa Rica and Burning Man since 2009.
Dee’s class offered hands-down the most relaxing and meaningful yoga experiences I have ever taken part in. Gone were my racing thoughts and typical nervousness about the prospect of messing up a pose and keeling over.
Today, studios offering 420-friendly yoga classes are beginning to pop up in states where the adult and medical use of cannabis has been legalized, though public consumption rules make them difficult to keep open.
- Ms. Dussault holds down the fort in San Francisco;
- The Toronto Ganja Yoga studio is still running;
- Denver locals can enjoy Bend & Blaze most Tuesday nights at GreenLabs, or take a full retreat with Twisted Sister Yoga.
- Los Angeles has had a few studios come and go.
- Those in the San Diego area can enjoy Herbally Enhanced Yoga, put on by one of Dee Dussault’s former students.
As far as the health and fitness industries go, cannabis and yoga pairings are just the beginning. As more athletes discover the myriad health benefits, enhancing physical activity with cannabis will no longer be a novelty, but the norm.