Yoga instructors aren’t normally thought of as stoners, but several yoga teachers across the US have taken advantage of the recent legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana. In several states you can now take a “ganja yoga” class or go on a cannabis-friendly yoga retreat, where smoking marijuana is encouraged, and with no worry of any legal repercussions.
Twisted Sister, a donation-based studio in Colorado, hosted Align With Your Heart, a cannabis-friendly yoga retreat. This women-only retreat took place in the heart of the Rockies and included daily yoga classes, meditation, yoga nidra, empowering workshops, hiking, a cannabis cooking class, and a visit to DANK, the marijuana dispensary that sponsored the retreat.
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Though this is the first cannabis-friendly yoga retreat to open its doors in the US, it is not the only. Other cannabis-friendly yoga retreats are starting to appear in Colorado and cannabis-friendly yoga classes have been popping up around the US for years. While completely legal, these retreats are causing controversy in the yoga community.
According to a study published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine, one of the top reasons people try yoga is to relieve stress. Coincidentally, the same is true about marijuana. Those in favor of the marijuana-and-yoga partnership claim that marijuana is a useful tool to help students reach a deep state of relaxation and connection to their environment.
Dee Dussault, cannabis-enhanced yoga instructor in San Francisco, said, “I believe in such classes because cannabis provides additional pain relief, anti-inflammation, relaxation of body and mind, and entry into alternate states of consciousness. These aspects enhance the many benefits of yoga and meditation practice.”
“Cannabis turns off areas of the brain related to cognitive functions that keep us in linear, mental orientation and turn on parts of the brain related to creativity and nervous system relaxation. When coupled with a conscientious yoga practice, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” Dussault said.
Those against the use of marijuana in yoga argue that being stoned will take away from the practice. They worry it will make it harder for students to focus and cause students to detach rather than help them drop deeper. Many people who argue against consuming marijuana before class say marijuana is a toxic substance counterproductive to the purification of the body that many yogis pursue.
As the debate grows, yoga studios are taking a stand. Some studios, like Healthy Honeys, eagerly advertise their “Get Fit, Stay Lit” cannabis-friendly classes. Other studios, like Breathe Yoga Wellness, have strict policies prohibiting students from attending class under the influence of any drugs, including marijuana.
It is too early to know how the legalization of marijuana is going to affect yoga in the long run. Maybe ganja yoga will reach the same level of recognition as Bikram, Iyengar, and Viniyoga. More likely, it will remain a niche yoga practice similar to broga, aerial yoga, and paddle board yoga. Either way, ganja yoga is here to stay. But if it brings more people to the mat and helps them de-stress, maybe it’s not such a bad thing.
What do you think? Is ganja yoga tarnishing the practice? Or is it another valid path to personal and spiritual growth? Let us know in the comments section below.