Getting High Before Yoga Class

Published on August 22, 2011

In a region where marijuana is as common as the ubiquitous palm tree, LA-area yoga instructor Liz McDonald saw a market niche: baked yoga. Noticing that many of her private clients lit up before yoga class several years ago, McDonald decided to devote a class in her new studio to “4:20 Remedy Yoga” (4:20 is a euphemism for smoking marijuana).

Students are asked to imbibe privately before class, preferably in cars in the parking lot, “as no drugs are consumed or distributed in the studio.” Once in the classroom, a lighthearted vibe ensues; between “trying to work out [the] crunchy peanut butter in our shoulders” and “happy girlfriend” (aka joyful baby) pose, students are often in giggles.

Deeper experiences are also expressed, as one student shares:  “I think marijuana creates an inquisitiveness, a stillness, something that allows you to concentrate on one thing at a time. And tactile sensations feel better, so as you’re stretching everything basically feels good.”

While this may raise few eyebrows on the American yoga scene, where yoga for wine, chocolate, and dog lovers has been embraced, classical yogis may be less forgiving.  In response to this view, “McDonald …  thinks that more traditional yogis who see marijuana as a toxin that inhibits enlightenment rather than enhancing it are being ‘yogier-than-thou.’”

McDonald’s reasoning is not without precedent; purification through the usage of external intoxicants has parallels in the left-handed Kaula tantric school of India.

This path is considered the lowest of the three tantric paths, followed by Mishra and Samaya. All three tantric schools employ purification of body, breath, and mind to transform samskaras , ingrained, habitual orientations said to be the driving force behind karma. The Kaula left-handed path is solely external, focusing on concrete practices and rituals “with the use of meat, fish, intoxicants, mudras, and sexual contact”  intended to control the lower desires and bodily needs, whereas the higher paths are more internal and do not rely on intoxicants.

Swami Rama cautions against Kaula tantra, noting it “is for those who are not very intellectual and have less awareness.” Furthermore, “some of the modern behaviors that have been labeled Tantra are only hedonism given a spiritual name, and are taught by people with little knowledge or experience of authentic Kaula Tantra or the higher schools of Tantra.” Tradition aside, if people are going to smoke up and come to yoga anyway, perhaps giving them permission to do so fosters a yoga practice where it might otherwise fail to take root. And more yogis, even giggling, munchies-afflicted ones, is probably a good thing, although a solid education as to the contextual origins of such practices may be in order, should one eventually wish to set the 4:20 aside for a more present, internal experience.

What are your thoughts about trendy classes which foster or couple intoxicants (wine, marijuana, etc.) with yoga?

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79 responses to “Getting High Before Yoga Class”

  1. vonster Avatar

    I smoke daily and it helps me tremendously with the yoga, i seem to feel more adventurous with poses and assess my breathing capacity more. i highly recommend it (no pun intended).

  2. mbcyoga Avatar

    Wow….why would you add something artificial to your yoga experience…not sure I understand how chemically altering your consciousness brings you greater self each their own!!

    1. Tmcd Avatar

      I’m not sure if you are aware that marijuana is not artificial and it is natural. Lol. Stoned yoga is probably the best thing my BODY had ever experienced.

    2. Galadriel Avatar

      You need to get over the idea of purity or sobriety because neither exists.

      1. Gabriel's Older (And Wiser) Brother Avatar
        Gabriel’s Older (And Wiser) Brother

        ‘Galadriel’s name is actually ‘Gabriel’. He’s just too stoned most of the time to remember how to spell it. Idiot.

    3. Earthyone68 Avatar

      Marijuana is not chemical! It is an herb — as natural as it gets, with many PROVEN healing benefits, even curing cancer. The human brain actually has cannabinoid receptors. Furthermore, halucenogens such as peyote and ayuasca have been used for hundreds of years by many indigenous cultures to deepen spiritual experiences. Do your homework before you judge others.

      1. skeewee Avatar

        Who did mbcyoga judge? Gosh, why can’t ppl have their own opionion without being considered “judgemental”?

    4. Nose Nada Avatar
      Nose Nada

      When you drink water you’re chemically enhancing your experience, when you eat you’re chemically enhancing your experience. Why would a plant be any different? To each their own..

  3. Timothy Avatar

    I don’t think it is acting “yogier-than-thou” to believe that the constant use of an narcotic to “enhance enlightenment” is a bit delusional and misguided. If you’ve got enough yoga skills you can easily practice 10 minutes of meditation and pranayama and feel just as high as someone stoned without the cost and ill effects of using marijuana.

    1. Boneyard Betty Avatar
      Boneyard Betty

      Marijuana can be ingested as well as smoked so health concerns about the smoking/COPD aspect is pretty much a moot point. Ingesting actually can give a different type of high, general consensus is that it gives the person more of a “body buzz” which is great for yoga if that’s what you’re into.

      I can’t imagine going to a yoga class and being giggly and goofing off the whole time. An occasional goofy yoga session with friends is fun but every time? That really is missing the point. Despite anti-marijuana propaganda, you don’t turn into a laughing maniacal idiot when you smoke weed. I mean, you CAN, but it isn’t a guaranteed effect. For me, marijuana is calming, like an anti-anxiety type of thing. It is especially wonderful for bedtime yoga.

      1. Me the Flea Avatar
        Me the Flea

        I know this post is really old, but I will still say this. Just because marijuana CAN be eaten doesn’t mean it is. The majority of people that use, smoke more often than consume, because smoking gets you higher faster. You saying that just because one scenario is POSSIBLE isn’t a valid reason. Now, if most people consumed MJ rather than smoke it, that would be a different story. I still wouldn’t agree with MJ for yoga, but I wouldn’t be so against it.

    2. richard Avatar

      ill effects?

      1. Timothy Burgin Avatar
        Timothy Burgin

        Dependency on an external substance to create a psychological state, various harmful effects of inhaling smoke, diminished cognition/body awareness/balance, increase of heart rate/blood pressure.

    3. FreeRide Avatar

      Yoga is not a skill, nor is herb a narcotic. Keep stroking your ego whilst the people you mock practice with Shiva.

      1. Timothy Burgin Avatar
        Timothy Burgin

        Yoga is not a skill? How do you define yoga then?

      2. zam zam Avatar
        zam zam

        Marijuana is used to meditate, not before any yoga practice. MJ is also mostly used by sadhus, not yogis.
        And no, you’re not practicing with Shiva. Trust the west to screw up yoga as well. When you quote our tantra schools, please read some more.
        Timothy seems to be the only sane guy here. You’ll probably end up hurting yourself if you practice baked, but I’m sure most of you have no idea how to do yoga anyways.

  4. lizcieplak Avatar

    marijuana is not artificial, it is a plant

    1. Needai Saythis Avatar
      Needai Saythis

      Inhaling a burning plant is unnatural. Taking drugs is unnatural. I feel that you already know this, but you are stonde.
      Amen hallelujah.

      1. Galadriel Avatar

        You say this like the yogis in India are straight edge lol. Get over your ideology of bodily purity because it is an illusion my friend.

      2. Jen Avatar

        Are you serious? I detest iwhen people use Christianity to give excuses why weed is not ok. God made weed, so I’m gonna smoke it. It’s better than tydonal, aspirin, and far better than any other real medication which provides side effects. Gets rid of headaches and nausea. It’s gebtle and any silliness people have is more of the individuals nature than the influence of the smoke. Stoners don’t act like that unless they are just in the mood anyway! Ignorant people knocking it before they try it.

        1. skeewee Avatar

          Just because God made weed definitely does not mean you need to smoke it. He created poisonous snakes, as well, but you’re not going to wrap one around your neck (unless you are high). He made all animals, too, but even told the ancient Jews that not all of the animals were created for the purposes of consuming them. Get real.

    2. pinkchandelle Avatar

      So does cigarette you mean? It’s from tobacco..

      1. CD Avatar

        Cigarettes are adulterated tobacco. What is it… 5 million?… chemicals are added.

  5. susanrobinson Avatar

    To me personally, yoga creates the calmness, openess, peacfulness, and a natural high. I know that many teachers are trying to bring as many people into yoga by offering what will attract new people to the practice, and maybe that’s a start. Just maybe some of these participants will start to realize that they don’t need to be high, or drink wine, or eat chocolate to truely enjoy the practive. Yoga will begin to balance them and eventually they will want to stop poisoning their bodies and brain. I guess we have to trust the process:)

  6. hoodlum Avatar

    being high on pot or rolling on e or dropping acid or stone sober all in the same your still practicing what you want and believe in. I have done it all ways I listed and opening my doors of perception before hand is always alot MORE!

  7. possum1969 Avatar

    truth is’ forming a substance habbit is not heathy but i like to listen to pink floyd wile practicing yoga so . i guess its all in your head.

  8. YogaPowah Avatar

    Smoking Jane before yoga will not make you a better practitioner, nor will it put you on a higher spiritual plane. It may, however, give you a good high. The 4:20’s are missing the entire premise of yoga. The niyamas, also self-reliance and detachment from external machinations are only a handful of the yogic principles contradicting the use of intoxicants. Sure, the native North/South Americans used a nice blend in their peace pipes. Some would even lick a nice toad, or two, but they were only following their own contrived cultural affectations as part of ritual and shamanism.

    Take a toke, do a pose. You may feel good, or different, doing yoga under the influence of a toxin surfing through your blood stream. Just don’t call what you’re doing ‘yoga.’ The giggly-jiggly experience might actually be pleasant for some people, but it will fail in one respect: smoking is not a natural process occurring in nature. Who cares if MJ is a natural weed? If the plant were to disappear from the face of the earth, it would not kill anyone. No one would die from THC starvation.

    While smoking may be enjoyable for some, in general, it remains a filthy, unhealthy human affectation enabled by the defiance arising out of a need to protect that enjoyment. That does not legitimize the habit. In that sense, it is artificial. Intoxication, in general, is not a natural process required for survival. It is, however, essential for injecting your body with non-essential substances.

    Acknowledging the whimsical huffs and puffs of the dizzy handful who may object to coherent opposition, we can soberly argue the pros and cons of a good high. Pros: Not many. Perhaps MJ helps mitigate psychosis? Perhaps it helps terminally ill patients suffering from chronic pain and diminished appetite? I don’t know. Check in when I go psycho, or ask me when I’m terminal. I would probably seek out natural remedies, such as medicinal herbs, to help me surf and navigate through my misery. Cons: Many. Where do we begin?

    Keep in mind that neither smoking, nor alcohol, occur in nature as a natural resource for survival. Do animals smoke, or drink alcohol? No! Let the animal kingdom be your starting point of reference and then admit that whatever we humans know as intoxication is merely a contrivance of civilization. In other words, masses of people do not need to intoxicate themselves in order to survive. To be unhealthy and experience a collective death perhaps, but not to survive. If a human habit, or foible, is not an integral part of survival, then it is worthy of re-evaluation and dismissal.

    In yoga, recognition and dismissal of the superfluous is the focus of study through the Koshas and the Vayus. Through asana practice, we see to quell and discard both chemical and psychological toxins. This concept of intoxicating, eating and other nonsense associated with modern yoga is strictly an asinine invention that substantiates itself with misguided axioms invented by ancient, radical sects seeking to enable the vices and skewed predilections of their contemporary cults. These vices are the affectations of simple, suffering minds who neither see themselves as simple, or suffering. Such is the nature of addictions (both mental and physical) that become attached to the ego. No doubt, the sober majority just “doesn’t understand.”

    The bottom line: Live and let live. Just let it be. Go ahead and toke, snort, drop, peel off the fabric and get into your best asana. It will look like my asana, if we share the same flexibility, but the internal process will be worlds apart. While it is true that yoga in India has experienced many evolutions through the ages, it is neither a valid argument, or convenient excuse, for modern contrivance. Radical cultural practices are always a part of human evolution, that’s just a simple fact. But only in so far as they are reflections of a common, inner deficiency that needs fortification through artificial means. A sensibility yearning for intoxication is a reflection of an inner fear, injury, or shortfall. These are the very aspects of our human psyche that yoga aims to quell and dissipate.

    Perhaps the radicalism will survive a while. Perhaps it will die out. Who knows and, ultimately, who cares? Do I care if a radical sect in India 2,000 years ago pounced about in their birthday suits while smoking their favorite rabbit? I think not. Let these people do what they do. Let them congregate. Let them live the delusion of progress and enjoyment for the time being. The trend is not yoga. It may be asana practice, but definitely not yoga. Somehow the main, coherent branch of yoga has survived the centuries and will remain Raja.

    1. atlbays Avatar

      I just think it is hilarious that people will repetitively talk about how weed will ‘artificially alter your mind’ but for some reason they don’t take into consideration that drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes do the same thing.

    2. Galadriel Avatar

      The body and physical / emotional experience are material.

      1. JOSH Avatar

        But I thought it’s all an illusion?? how can it now be physical??

      2. mariah Avatar

        Marijuana connects you more with your body, you feel the stretches deeply and you feel the love. You feel the interweaving and overlapping of dimensions as you go deeper into the pose. It relaxes and allows more comprehension of meaning beyond this illusion we call our bodies and this physical realm we call Earth. Embrace it because it as natural and universe given as our consciousness

        1. Hairam Avatar

          mariah – you write as if you are stoned out of your gourd!

    3. HarmoniKa Avatar

      >Do animals smoke, or drink alcohol? No! <

      There are many documented observations of animals other than humans seeking to alter their consciousness with naturally occurring substances; everything from cats getting monged on catnip, to African elephants which get drunk after ingesting copious amounts of fermented fruit.

      This small fact renders the rest of your "my yoga is the greatest yoga" argument rather moot, doesn't it? Do your niyamas include sanctimony and condescension?

    4. Kat Avatar

      There’s actually a lot of evidence of species getting high through consumption of plants.

  9. possum1969 Avatar

    well thats a rant in faver of let the kids misbehave, i tell you i have done this one thing for years and my teachers told me thats wrong and i kept doing it and after 30 years i tell you my old yoga teachers back in the 70,s were right dont do it. if nothing eles it causes COPD. I LOVE this site. this reminds me of a thing i heard once . Does anyone know why the gaint sequoias grow so tall and live so long ,,, its because the roots grow and inner twine together they hold each other up. and i feel thats what this site does ..bless all of you ,,,namusty

  10. 1love2evolve Avatar

    In my opinion the herb is a blessing when used responsibly for positive reasoning. It can open new doors in the mind to see a new perspective. If your goal is to evolve to a higher consciousness you must leave the herb behind. I believe the mind, body, and spirit have a higher potential then any drug.

  11. yogamike33 Avatar

    I have nothing against pot. But this is my point. Competitive yoga is the devil but yoga with controlled substances is blessing??? WTF.

  12. possum1969 Avatar

    uncle sam says no more herb for California you all got to give up the smoke hear yea hear yea the DEA is going to close the party down.

  13. Seanfu Avatar

    Psychedelic drugs (which include THC and DMT) are not harmful at all really. That not the point though, the point is that everyone ha their own path and the true path of yoga is about balance and restraint as well as fitness.

    The danger of THC consumption is the possible mental addictiveness, and the release of energy during, which leaves you at a deficiancy to a degree later.

    Being high and having a blast with yoga is not the yogi path, but to condemn people for doing so IS being yogier than thou.

  14. Seanfu Avatar

    Some say not to even orgasm during ex because of the energy release.

  15. AllieCunningham Avatar

    Drinking is absolutely impossible while drinking. Once I came to my yoga class having a hangover. And that was so hard! As for smoking, well, I think it depends on your mood. If you realize it’s a serious process, you’ll never giggle or smth. May be that could really help.

    Allie Cunningham, manatger of free typing test

  16. Mystic_Spiritus Avatar

    “Do animals smoke, or drink alcohol? No! Let the animal kingdom be your starting point of reference and then admit that whatever we humans know as intoxication is merely a contrivance of civilization.”


    Actually, several species of animals are known to imbibe in alcohol and other substances. Horses love locoweed, which is psychoactive and addictive. Elephants and alcohol have been a problem in India and Africa for many years now. Snails, slugs, and bees alike love beer. Reindeer love amanitas – the classic red and white hallucinogenic mushrooms. And if you haven’t seen squirrels happily getting drunk on fermenting apples, you’re missing out.

    There are numerous other examples. I appreciate your well-thought out input on the topic, but as a biologist I feel I should point out that however well intentioned what you stated is factually incorrect. That being said, I did enjoy your post and heavily agree with your end message.

    1. Alexis Avatar

      The times I smoke pot before yoga, I do it because I like it. It’s that simple.

  17. Jim Larson Avatar
    Jim Larson

    My haven’t we all become so “High and Mighty” pun intended.

  18. CRose Avatar

    It is amazing the amount of ignorance when it comes to using Marijuana. As someone who has had chronic pain since I was 14 marijuana has changed my life for the better. I thought this idea was brilliant. If I lived in Cali I would def love to go to a yoga studio where I didn’t feel paranoid for being high. I have often gotten high before working out and yoga and I always feel way better after then if I didn’t. Getting high relaxes my muscles and helps me tune out my pain which has been a challenge with me in the past with yoga. I also feel I get more out of my poses because my body is so relaxed. Almost like hot yoga, minus the nauseated feeling those classes give me. Props to this yoga instructor for thinking outside the box!!

    1. Timothy Burgin Avatar
      Timothy Burgin

      If you are using Marijuana medicinally for pain management, then I see no issue combining it with the practice of yoga. FYI, this article is not addressing medical Marijuana use, only recreational use.

      1. Lefar Avatar

        Smoke is bad. Vaporize is good. And anyone who drinks coffee is a drug addicted freak! Caffeine is a drug my friends no judgements to potheads until the war on drugs attacks caffeine too

        1. Lefar Avatar

          also all medicinally used in cali rec users are illegal your assuming its a class of criminals

        2. Rafel Avatar

          so ‘lefar’, until they banish caffeine, you are going to walk around in a constant, delusional fog? stay off of my roads. stoned = impaired. impaired = dysfunctional. dysfunctional = stay home in your mother’s basement.

  19. Mae Howe Avatar
    Mae Howe

    I believe there is balance for all perceived good and evil. It is not whether you do something or don’t, its a matter of what feels true to you and what will benefit YOU in your evolution to spiritual/physical alignment. Finding balance within self causes all other “imbalances” to no longer be an issue, external or otherwise.
    Why approve or disapprove of another’s action? Ignorance lies within limited perception. Acceptance of ALL is the bigger goal to seek. No one drug makes you more or less than you already are, you simply access a different facet of yourself.
    I believe you can induce any response a drug creates and consuming a drug for a particular response is acknowledgment that this is possible, hence animals consuming natural intoxicants. We all recognize altering our states of consciousness is possible and easier with a physical substance/action.
    So when it comes down to it, we are all arguing whether someone should profit on making weed seem cool or like stoners are in an exclusive club of understanding …creating a separation, when its Simply Preference.

    1. Kat Avatar

      Thank you!

      Everyone has vices, even yogis (that is, to say, if the yogi in question sees getting high as a vice.)

  20. Midori Avatar

    Medicinal smoker for physical and mental health here – it’s not for everyone. I don’t think I’d reccomend being high (not head high anyways) but a low stone can be lovely and does not ditract from the experience at all. Of course those of you calling it a toxin need more research before I can convonce you of that.

  21. Liv Avatar

    To be honest, I wouldn’t smoke Marijuana before doing yoga because I feel like it takes away from the experience. It seems like training wheels for finding peace, and I would prefer to get that ‘high’ by simply meditating and finding joy within myself. Of course, I understand that a lot of you will probably disagree, but I’ve felt so calm and relaxed from doing yoga that I don’t think I need any extra help. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, so please don’t feel offended :)

  22. Adam Avatar

    Of course my ideas and conceptions of yoga are currently and will always be developing. I practice Ashtanga yoga, which necessitates daily practice. Well having not been given any full description of the reasons for daily practice, I believe it can be reasoned with the concepts of muscle memory, and neuroplasticity.

    Muscle memory is our body’s ability to become aware of it. Our bodies adapt to the demands of a recurring situation. I am a drummer, and this concept it dear to me in that sense. Practice, practice, practice, especially the monotonous drills, every day! I carry the same attitude with yoga.

    Neuroplasticity refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses due to changes in behavior, environment, neural processes, thinking, emotions, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury. [Wikipedia :S] So it is implied that generating muscle memory uses the process of neuroplasticity.

    Asana inevitably changes our bodies and minds, after years our practice is ingrained into our brains. We become a part of the practice. It is within us. Just the way a drummer is a part of their drum set, and the playing just an expression o what is within. [Do not touch a drummer’s kit without their approval. or any musician’s instrument for that matter!]

    I like smoking pot. I smoked way too much pot as a teenager, got sick of it, but eventually rekindled my fondest of the herb. I have strove to understand what it is that pot does when I smoke it. My current understanding is that THC is a synapse inhibitor. THC effectively locates and blocks specific synapses from firing; the information is then forced to find a new path. Say a regular path is A->B. When we’re stoned this is block, so the information, say, on how to make a cup of tea, is re-routed. This time; A->G->C->B, so when we finally get to how to make tea, there is additional information accumulated with that process. This is experienced as ideas. What is tea? Why am I drinking it? Or emotions that we have about tea, that might not normally be present. Of course there is tons more information, maybe it never ends, but that is my rudimentary understanding of it.

    So what are the pros and cons of this? Well, I enjoy smoking pot now a day with this process in mind. I use pot for this reason. Every couple months, I buy a bag of grass, and smoke a lot by myself, in a comfortable setting, like the woods, or the beach, and let my mind wander on all the ideas and emotions I have accumulated in recent weeks. I always find that things I have thought about on a regular basis, or things that I have done, like asana’s are suddenly perceived in a different way, that results in flashes of insight, and mini epiphanies.

    The dangers of this are that smoking it too much results in a repeated scrambling of ones neuropath ways. Over an extended period, it will be difficult to form new solid pathways, and inhibit learning and memory. Think of a trench formed from water through sand. The trench is memory. Smoking pot redirects the water, and new shallower trenches are formed, which are different manifestations of the same memory. Too much though, and a deep trench will never form, only many shallow ones, that are not a capable of lasting the long term.

    So, at this point, I need only put together my concept of practice, with my concept of being stoned. If I were to engage in marijuana on a regular basis with yoga, my practice would never deepen. It might make me feel relaxed, and comfortable, but that is not necessarily why I practice, certainly not Ashtanga, which is demanding and frequently arduous. The inhibition of neuropathways would make it difficult for my brain to develop muscle memory, and gain a focus to be used day in day out. And since the whole point of my practice of asana right now, is to develop this muscle memory, to form an awareness and deep bond with mind, body and breath, smoking pot would be a retardant to this process. Asana is to convert the body into a store of meditative power, by strengthening its bond with the mind, not to relax and feel good about one’s self, although those are obvious benefits.

    So while I enjoy marijuana for its ability to force one to engage in a familiar idea, or process in a foreign way, causing one to perceive things differently than they’re used to, or experience insights on processes they are familiar with, it is not a tool for yoga.

    Sure, yoga may be experienced with drugs, I can attest to that. I have smoked a lot of pot, and eaten my share of shroomies. They can be used to induce deep meditative experiences. Hours go by while one may be completely absorbed in a single idea. It will seem like only a few moments, and the person will never look at that thing the same again. But, these drugs are NOT a part of the eight limbs. I do not advocate their reliance in yoga practice, and would argue they are ultimately a detriment to yoga’s proven method of arriving at Samadhi.

    Thanks for reading my long winded response 

    1. Timothy Burgin Avatar
      Timothy Burgin

      Thank you for such a thorough and reasoned response Adam. I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment ” If I were to engage in marijuana on a regular basis with yoga, my practice would never deepen.”

  23. Swami From India Avatar
    Swami From India

    If you are using marijuana in your yoga practice you are not a yogi, you are a bogi. One does not practice yoga to have experiences, one practices yoga to move beyond experience. Whatever ‘good’ feelings you are getting from the marijuana is delusion and moving you away from the focus of yoga. American yoga as it is typically practiced is not a yoga that will move you from darkness to light. Do not bother arguing with me, your comments reveal your ignorance and no matter how you try to convince yourself that you are right, you are not. Aum.

    Prerequisites for the practice of yoga with a true desire for union begins with understanding and integrating the yamas and niyamas in your life. Considered the ‘ten commandments’ of yoga, no true guru in India will accept a student until the student understands and values the yamas and niyamas. If you understood the yamas and niyamas you would understand why smoking marijuana is detrimental to your spiritual progress. It may take you ten or twenty to realize the truth in my statements but until then, even with your marijuana, you will continue to suffer. This suffering is your wake-up call. Utilize it or perish. Aum.

    Again, don’t argue. If you wish to make real progress study and integrate these two books: The Bhagavad Gita and The Yoga Sutras. If you do not integrate the knowledge contained in these books you are simply stretching. Aum.

    1. Sarah Avatar

      Thank you, Swami, for sharing real knowledge and wisdom. I pray the stoned, knee-jerk reactions from the potheads are kept to a minimum but we cannot expect much from the ‘drunk drivers of yoga’.

      Namaste and peace to you.

  24. Duncan Avatar

    I went schitzophrenic for +- 8 months, thought I was jesus, etc. It has done wonders for my spiritual life in the aftermath. Broadened my horizons and all the(After completely obliterating them first though. I believe weed can help people find truisms about spiritual enlightenment but if you still need a substance to be okay in your own body then your not there yet. Yoga, as far as I understand, is about a unity of mind and body. How do you expect to find wholeness if you mind is somewhere else.

  25. Tommy Avatar

    Stretching dwells in that fine line between pleasure and pain. THC, for me, shifts the feeling of a stretch towards the pleasure side – a lot. Is there a physiological reason for this?

  26. Bob Rogers Avatar
    Bob Rogers

    Taking drugs and or alcohol before class creates a tunnel around you. The spirit cannot reach you like the sun cannot penetrate a lead window. The spiritual highway is the connection which deliveries the wellness of body mind and heart. any less is false. Bob

    1. ChiQnAZ Avatar

      I’d like to state for the record I am not new to medical marijuana but new to yoga. 5 intense hot yoga classes under my belt and under the influence of marijuana and I would say I was blessed by the spirit EVERY class. I go in “high” on marijuana but come out high on life. No way could I attribute the way I feel to marijuana nor would I say it blocks the spirit. Does taking Maca root block the spirit? I’d like to know what country the spirit is from so I know what substances it doesn’t like. Lol.

  27. Tina Avatar

    i’ve been smoking marijuana for years, almost everyday, I live a completely normal life and have goals and aspirations that marijuana in a way has helped me achieve. I used to have very bad anxiety and when marijuana helped me overcome my anxieties and become a more confident creative person I became an advocate for legalization ( I’m 21 don’t drink, smoke cigarettes or party I just enjoy a joint for time to time) I’ve hated being looked down on and categorized with criminals when people find out I smoke . However I’ve also started going deeper into my yoga practice, i do usually smoke before hand and for about the last year I’ve been contemplating if thats “right” to me. I don’t see a down side to smoking recreationally if ,like everything you do, use balance, moderation and can also have a normal life outside your smoking habits, why not?

  28. Rose Avatar

    I have been doing stoned yoga at home, modified to accommodate certain disabilities. It feels really good to loose up my arthritic bones, great relaxation!

  29. Ani Avatar

    I have mixed feelings about Marijuana and other intoxicants, but I’m not one to judge. I’m not ok with intoxication while doing activities where someone else’s life may be affected by ones actions, like driving while intoxicated. However, I can see how this may feel good (yoga while high). Like mbcyoga said…to each his own. I don’t think I’ll rush to try it, but I embrace difference.

  30. Ericka Sebring Avatar
    Ericka Sebring

    I think its a great idea to have a separate class. Therefore the people who enjoy it and agree with it can practice together and the people who don’t agree aren’t around to steal the energy. Either way, there will never be a time where everyone will agree with this. I personally think its an extraordinary idea!! Kudos(:

  31. Liliyogini Avatar

    If you are getting high to prepare for your yoga practice, you are not practicing yoga. And, that’s fine. Most of us in the West dont practice yoga anyway. We practice asana, or stretching and strength training, whatever. It is what it is. My biggest concern about this whole article, and something no one else seemed to mention, is that she encourages people to get high in their car before class. Ummm, a typical class is only one hour, maybe 75-90 minutes. Experts believe the effects of mj last up to 24 hours. My problem here, how are these stoned yogi’s getting home? Best case scenario, they get home without a DUI, worst case…I don’t even want to go there! .I just cant agree with anything encouraging intoxication behind the wheel!

  32. Tatum Parks Avatar
    Tatum Parks

    Yoga has played a major role during the course of my own awakening over the last 4 months. If you allow it to, the body knows what to do, it wants to heal itself. I believe yoga is an attempt to unify body and mind. Complete attachment to the physical body, that is knowing and being aware of every facet of and movement within you body, must be realized before detachment may be achieved. i have found marijuana to be helpful, in the beginning at least. It helps to focus inward and be in the moment. However, I have come to realize that to achieve enlightenment, one must be totally pure of body and mind. This include all intoxicants.

  33. GILIAN Avatar

    All smoke is poison. all drugs are an ilusion. you think it makes you happy and better but you are just running away from life pain with a pain killer. killer to your mind. killer to your lungs.

  34. Leilani Avatar

    Keep it Straight, Simple, and Steady, as you go. Breathe oxygen, not smoke. Be Love, and Breathe Love.

  35. Iris Avatar

    Whenever I feel like I need to practice compassion, I just come on here and read the comments.

  36. Chris Daniels Avatar
    Chris Daniels

    The Indian yogis, the wandering sadhus, and not just followers of Kaula, use marijuana quite a bit while abstaining from other pleasures and performing radical austerities. They have done so since before written history, and although illegal in India, law enforcement has long looked the other way when it cam to holy men smoking cannabis. “More traditional yogis see marijuana as a toxin…?.?.?” Please. That is just ignorant of the origins of yoga, and giving neo-Hindu cult leaders who call themselves “swamis” credit for the asana tradition that is not really theirs. Wine and beer yoga is an entirely different matter, however. To even suggest they are all equivalent is unyogic, and I’m not going to bother explaining the differences here. It should be obvious.

    1. Timothy Burgin Avatar
      Timothy Burgin

      Chris, you make a valid point about the austeric use of cannabis but this doesn’t apply to a modern American householder’s practice of hatha yoga. Since the phrase “traditional yogis” was a quote from someone else it is difficult to know what they meant by “traditional” and seems unfair to assume they were referencing wandering naked Naga yogis… more likely a they meant a traditional American yogi. Even if you could find a historical reference for the use of cannabis specifically with hatha yoga it still would not justify it’s use as the potency of what sadhus were smoking 200 years ago isn’t anywhere close to what is being used today and they would have had to do much much much more yogic work and practice to achieve a transcendental high.

  37. Maureen Avatar

    I don’t think this is anything new – pot and yoga went together like peanut butter & jelly 15 years ago when I lived in Southern CA. This is when it was all called ‘new age’ stuff (now way more commonplace) Here in MI where medical mj has been around for over 8 years, many use medical mj along with yoga and chiropractic care as an alternative to pain killers and surgery – it’s only recently (since obamacare) that chiropractic and yoga practices are acknowledged by mainstream medical here in michigan – but pot and yoga has been not only approved but also practiced by those with medical cards since at least 2008.

    So nayslayers can say what they will – if after 8 years of using medical pot and yoga as a lifestyle one can stay off prescription drugs and away from surgery – god bless them and their choices!

    1. Timothy Burgin Avatar
      Timothy Burgin

      FYI, this article is on the use of recreational marijuana, not medical, with yoga. I’ve also never heard the use of “new age stuff” as slang for practicing yoga while high.

  38. Crystal Avatar

    I’m a regular smoker and found that it is almost instinctual for me to stretch when high. My practice is also more intuitive with greater strength and energy when I am high. Whilst I never attend my classes this way, at home it is my favourite past time. The world would truly be a nicer place if we all embraced a little weed and a lot of yoga.

    1. Tommy Avatar

      I think we sense the same thing.

      I commented: “Stretching dwells in that fine line between pleasure and pain. THC, for me, shifts the feeling of a stretch towards the pleasure side – a lot. Is there a physiological reason for this?”

      I don’t think I’m feeling an instinct but a sensory effect of some kind. It is definitely a physical thing.

  39. Patty Avatar

    I call it Ganja Yoga

  40. Gordon Power Avatar
    Gordon Power

    Marijuana may give people a ” high”

    Yoga creates an elevation of body , mind and spirit so greater than artificial stimuli…

    All for clean practice and mindfulness…

  41. Marina Avatar

    I like smoking marijuana eventually but I do not like to mix it with my Yoga practice. Of course, once in a while is ok, but, FOR ME, it’s out of context. I like to be completely aware and in a plain state of counciousness for my practice to reach its highest potential. Just my opinion. Jah bless you all! ;)

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Tosca Park Avatar
About the author
Tosca Park, a 200-hour Kripalu Yoga instructor and 500-hour Integrative Yoga Therapist, is a doctoral student in Clinical Health Psychology at the University of Connecticut, where she conducts research on yoga, mindfulness, and health with her mentor, Dr. Crystal Park, and collaborators. Prior to UConn Tosca spent five years as a research intern and project manager with Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living, an organization devoted to the scientific study of yoga-based curricula. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Reed College and SUNY Empire State College in history and health psychology, respectively, and has more than 2,000 hours of training in yoga, Ayurveda, and the mind-body connection.
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