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The Empowering History of Cannabis & Yoga

Published on October 25, 2019 7:15 AM EST
The Empowering History of Cannabis & Yoga

The healing relationship between yoga and cannabis dates back thousands of years. Throughout history, yogis have used marijuana to improve their practice, strengthen their poses, and enhance their spirituality.

Now that cannabis legalization is sweeping the globe, more people than ever before can combine weed with their yoga flow. Some yoga studios in recreational states even offer cannabis-infused classes.

The Empowering History of Cannabis & Yoga

Can a little THC really help improve your yoga practice?

The History of Yoga & Marijuana

The creation and practice of yoga has historically always been intertwined with cannabis. In fact, the Hindu Lord of Yoga, Lord Shiva, is also recognized as the Lord of Ganja.

According to legend, Lord Shiva gifted the cannabis plant to humanity. The deity routinely smoked marijuana to find inspiration and enlightenment, along with drinking bhang, a traditional cannabis-infused beverage. Even today, Lord Shiva is commonly honored in India by drinking or offering bhang. 

The earliest holy texts, the Vedas, mentions both yoga and cannabis. The relationship between these two powerful tools of healing has been evident for thousands of years. The Vedas lead to the creation of Hinduism and to the development of the yogic philosophy.

Another ancient document, the Yoga Sutras, mentions marijuana as well. These texts are considered the authority on the basic principles of yoga. Since cannabis is referenced in the Yoga Sutras, many yogis consider marijuana to be not only beneficial to their practice, but essential.

The Earliest Evidence of Cannabis Use

Humans have been cultivating, smoking, and celebrating weed for thousands of years. The Vedas is one of the earliest ever references to cannabis in human history. This sacred text from India makes it obvious that our ancient ancestors understood and enjoyed the benefits of cannabis.

Physical evidence of ancient marijuana use has also been found in Central Asia. Using an advanced testing technique called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, researchers discovered that humans were smoking weed in China over 2,000 years ago.

Ancient civilizations grew cannabis plants for a variety of reasons. Many societies used marijuana for medical purposes or to attain spiritual benefits. In Hinduism, holy men called Sadhus combined cannabis with yoga to further enhance this enlightenment.

A nomadic tribe known as the Scythians would use cannabis smoke to purify themselves after burial rituals. People in these cultures cultivated and smoked cannabis to uplift their souls and connect to their spirituality on a deeper level.

Additionally, many early societies grew hemp plants alongside marijuana plants. Hemp plants could be harvested for their fiber and utilized as a powerful building resource. Evidence of hemp cultivation dates back to 4,000 BCE. 

Cannabis & Sadhus 

Cannabis and yoga are historically intertwined with Hinduism. Hindi holy men known as Sadhus find enlightenment by combining the practice of yoga with the use of marijuana. Their belief system is primarily based on the two sacred texts, the Vedas and the Yoga Sutras.

Sadhus encourage combining cannabis with yoga, and believe it’s the best way to find inner peace and inspiration. These spiritual figures have existed throughout Hindu history, and continue to practice today.

Can Cannabis Improve Your Yoga Practice?

Cannabis use can be controversial in the yoga community. Many yogis believe that smoking weed deepens their yoga practice, while others think having an altered state of mind ruins the point completely. Using marijuana as a part of your practice has to come down to your own personal preferences. 

For some people, being high elevates their spiritual connection and expands their self-awareness. Yogis with anxiety or ADHD can use THC to stop racing thoughts that would otherwise interrupt their practice. If you have chronic pain, smoking weed or taking CBD can help make it more manageable. 

Other yoga practitioners, however, are entirely against combining yoga and weed. These individuals argue that marijuana use can harm your practice both mentally and physically. On a mental level, being high can distract you from staying with your breath and forming important mind-body connections.

Physically, cannabis use can slow your reaction time and make you dehydrated. Whether you should add cannabis to your yoga practice or not will largely be determined by your personal preference and needs. Everybody is different, and what benefits one person may cause issues for the next.

Benefits of Cannabis With Yoga:

Do you want to try adding marijuana to your yoga practice? Yogis have celebrated the incredible benefits of cannabis for thousands of years, for good reason. These are the main reasons people love combining cannabis with yoga:

  • Calms the mind and lessen anxious, intrusive thoughts
  • Eases pain and inflammation
  • Enhances spirituality
  • Can improve the mind-body connection
  • Relaxes insecurities while boosting self-awareness

Drawbacks of Cannabis With Yoga:

Mixing cannabis with yoga isn’t for everyone. Depending on your personal needs and the state of your practice, it may be better for you to avoid incorporating weed. These are the primary drawbacks of adding cannabis to your yoga practice:

  • Distracts the mind from maintaining poses
  • Dehydrates the body
  • Can worsen the mind-body connection
  • May create a mental dependence

Top 3 Strains for Yoga

Are you unsure about how cannabis will affect your yoga practice? The only way to know for sure how marijuana impacts your flow is to give it a try. These three strains pair wonderfully with yoga, and are great choices for individuals at all experience levels.

Hindu Kush

Hindu Kush is a powerful, potent indica that relaxes the mind and the body. This strain is the perfect choice for yogis who have racing thoughts or chronic pain. Hindu Kush can deeply improve your practice if you have trouble calming down and staying present. Be cautious about smoking this strain before a busy class though, since it may cause social anxiety.

Laughing Buddha

Laughing Buddha is an uplifting sativa that makes users feel more inspired and enlightened. If you want to improve your focus and energy levels throughout practice, this strain is the perfect choice. Since Laughing Buddha produces a buzzy, active high, it’s recommended to use this strain before a high-energy flow class.

Lavender

The Lavender cannabis strain is a calming, mellow indica perfect for a relaxed practice. This strain can improve your ability to stretch deeply and settle into yoga poses. Lavender is a great choice for yogis who want to meditate and find peace. 

Should Cannabis Be Added to Your Yoga Practice?

The decision to add cannabis to your yoga practice is a unique and personal choice. Your individual experiences, needs, and preferences will be the primary factors. In which ways do you feel your yoga practice could improve? 

If it’s difficult for you to calm your mind and relax your thoughts, using cannabis may be the answer. If you need help connecting to your spirituality and finding enlightenment, combining marijuana with yoga could provide results.

On the other hand, maybe you have trouble meeting the physical demands of the practice. Another common problem is staying focused on maintaining the poses. If you experience issues like these, adding cannabis to your practice would likely do more harm than good. 

The best way to decide whether cannabis improves your practice or not is to give it a try. Test out a strain like Hindu Kush or Laughing Buddha and see the results for yourself.

Historically, cannabis use is celebrated as a way to heighten enlightenment and improve your yoga practice. If you want to master yoga like the Sadhus, try smoking weed before your next flow. Namaste.   

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