Photo: Ivan Ryabokon via 123RF

Few industries in recent history have seen more rapid and significant growth than yoga and cannabis. While linked by their recent boom, the relationship between the two stretches back millennia.

It’s only been 10 years since voters in the first legal weed states approved recreational use of the plant. However, the industry’s projected revenue for 2022 is already $33 billion between U.S. medical and recreational cannabis sales.

Meanwhile, once seen as an exotic “new age” fad, yoga has exploded in popularity. The number of Americans practicing yoga has grown by over 50% between 2012 and 2016, according to Harvard Medical School. At least 55 million people practice yoga in the U.S., according to 2020 research by Statista.

Long-Standing Link

Despite being two relatively recent mainstream trends in the U.S, yoga and cannabis have a relationship that goes back at least 5,000 years in the Hindu tradition.

Indian traditions built around the ancient Hindu holy texts known as the Vedas have long treated cannabis as a sacred plant. And yoga culture also dates back to the Vedas, according to scholars.

Dee Dussault is a certified yoga instructor credited for introducing “ganja yoga” classes in North America. Dussault describes the roots of the practice. 

“Yogis in South Asia have used cannabis with yoga for several thousand years, and hash is still used by many yogis who worship [Hindu god] Lord Shiva. In fact, cannabis-enhanced spirituality was practiced all over the ancient world,” according to Dussault’s website.

Possible Drawbacks to Stoned Yoga Practice 

But is getting high before a yoga session always the best bet? Maybe not, some say — for both spiritual and health reasons.

“Ayurvedic medicine, the scientific practice that goes hand in hand with yoga and shares an origin in the Vedas, aims to cultivate a purity of mind and body that some feel leaves very little room for cannabis,” Newsweek reports.

There’s a belief that individuals should use cannabis with intentionality, especially for medical purposes. Otherwise, it becomes little more than a way to dull, or even avoid, certain emotions or pain, the story said.

And modern yogis say that you must understand how cannabis affects you before you launch a session baked. 

“Does it make you relaxed and euphoric or anxious and paranoid? Does your brain kick into overdrive or slow down to a crawl?” asks the experts at Yoga Basics

They say that yoga practitioners should always aim for the North Star of uniting the self and spirit.

A deeper look at how marijuana use affects the physical, mental, and spiritual bodies may help make an informed decision.

Cannabis could make a newbie miss necessary body signals due to its pain-relieving properties. That could also be true of CBD — the non-high-inducing component found in the cannabis plant and revered for its reported wellness effects.

And being high could impact your ability to focus — a core necessity of yoga, which encourages reflection and inner-inquisitiveness.

Photo: georgerudy via 123RF

Best Poses to Try While High

Still interested in doing yoga high? These poses could be best.

Cannabis- and wellness-focused website The Fresh Toast recommends “Sun Salutation A” as a good practice for the high yogi and conveniently links to a video along with descriptions of each pose and fold. If you’re already a yoga pro, you’re likely familiar with the moves already, but perhaps not in this order:

  • Mountain Pose” (Tadasana) — This pose appears simple and is typically used to prepare for other standing poses. But it requires concentration and awareness — two things that many cannabis consumers say are benefits of the plant. This practice teaches proper posture.
  • “Upward Salute” (Urdhva Hastasana) — This pose is also considered a “foundation pose” like the “Mountain Pose,” preparing the practitioner for future standing poses. As you lift your arms, you’re encouraged to explore the contrast of your own body’s strength and the support of the ground. The primary physical function of this pose is extension.
  • “Standing Forward Bend” (Uttanasana) — This is considered a beginner’s pose. Cannabis can facilitate the intentionality required for the pose. The main physical benefit of Uttanasana is to help examine your stance and stretch pelvic muscles.
  • “Standing Half Forward Bend” (Ardha Uttanasana) — Ardha Uttanasana is a relatively simple pose, and it typically follows Uttanasana. With the body bent forward and hands on the ground, you can stretch the front of your torso, improve your posture and even help with digestive issues.
  • “Four-Limbed Staff Pose” (Chaturanga Dandasana) — Compare this pose to a plank/push-up hybrid. It has you start in what is called “Plank Pose” and push back, sticking your butt in the air before coming down to the previous pose. This pose is a full-body workout.
  • “Upward-Facing Dog Pose” (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) — This pose is one of the classics. It’s a workout that strengthens the core while helping your posture and allowing you to lift your head. It’s considered an energizing pose by yogis, and could be a fun complement to cannabis’ relaxed sensations.
  • “Downward-Facing Dog Pose” (Adho Mukha Svanasana) — This is one of yoga’s most iconic poses. It starts like the “Standing Half Forward Bend,” but ends in something resembling a bow. It’s considered a foundational yoga pose that stretches the entire body while building strength in the core.

From here, you cool down with the same four exercises that led to the “Downward-Facing Dog Pose,” in reverse order:

  • “Standing Half Forward Bend” (Ardha Uttanasana)
  • “Standing Forward Bend” (Uttanasana)
  • “Upward Salute” (Urdhva Hastasana)
  • “Mountain Pose” (Tadasana)

Like any new physical activity, be smart and cautious as you consider getting high before your next yoga practice. But remember that the cannabis plant and yoga practice are almost as old as recorded history.