It’s interesting that both Cannabis and yoga speak to the parasympathetic nervous system; which is responsible for controlling homeostasis, by providing balance and maintenance to the body’s systems. It restores the body to a state of calm, counterbalance, and allows it to relax and repair. It also has a close relation with emotions, feelings, and memories.
The body undergoes several specific responses when the parasympathetic system is activated:
- Saliva is increased
- Digestive enzymes are released
- Heart rate drops
- The bronchial tubes in your lungs constrict
- Muscles relax
- The pupils in your eyes constrict
- Urinary output increases
- Increases resistance to infection
- Circulation to nonvital organs (skin, extremities)
- Decreases blood pressure
- Produces endorphins (the ‘feel good’ hormones)
- Aids in rest and recuperation
All of these changes are designed to maintain long-term health, improve digestion, conserve energy, and maintain a healthy balance in the body’s systems.
From The Beginning
The act of combining yoga with cannabis is not a new concept. As a matter of fact, for thousands of years the yogis and Sadhus of India have used cannabis to enhance their yoga/physical and meditative/spiritual practices.
The Yoga Sutras, compiled around 400 CE by the sage Patanjali, outline the basic principles of yoga in 196 sutras and are widely considered the proper yoga text. Yoga Sutras 4.1 state that awakening can come in various ways – occurring naturally, from meditation, from suffering, from the inner flame, or from herbs and elixirs.
Lord Shiva, the Supreme being responsible for change in the form of death, destruction, ego death, shedding of old habits and attachments has great purifying power; in destruction nothing is truly destroyed but transformed. He is also known as the God of the yogis and the God of Cannabis.
Lore suggests he was scorched by the heat of the sun, when his good fortune led him to a cannabis plant. Cannabis plants grew only in places where the cosmic ocean of the devas, or gods, had dripped Amrita, the elixir of life. Wherever the divine nectar Amrita touched the earth, a cannabis plant sprouted. Shiva consumed the plant’s leaves and was rejuvenated. Cannabis became a staple in his diet, and he became known as the Lord of Bhang
During Mahashivratri (The Great Night of Shiva), people are allowed to consume Bhang; a traditional edible preparation of the herb made out of cannabis, almonds, spices, cold milk and sugar. Worshipers offer cannabis to Lord Shiva and also consume it to attain a blissful state.
The integration of cannabis in yoga practice helps unlock and open multiple doors while breaking down inhibitions and allowing one to explore the mind and its connection to the body. It aids in psychological noise reduction by slowing the mind and changing brain waves from Theta (creativity, emotional connection, intuition) to Beta (conscious focus, memory, problem solving) to Alpha (relaxation) to Delta (immune system, natural healing, restorative/deep sleep). Some other noted benefits are:
- Helps focus
- Slows down heart rate
- Connects body and mind
- Brings awareness to the present moment
- Feelings of calm and euphoria
- Awareness of body muscles, tensions, tightness
- Allows breath to travel to specific parts of the body in order to relieve tension
- Chakras open wider to better accommodate the flow of incoming subatomic particles (chi/prana)
- Deeper connection to breath
- Helps to internalize the senses
- May lead to the transcendental state of Samahdi in advanced yogis
- Aids in self-healing by overcoming traumas and emotional blockages
- Changes perspective on problems, worries and fears
- Cannabis is beneficial for patients with chronic pain who would not be able to do yoga otherwise
When you direct your attention to specific locations in your body, you can feel that it’s not just your perception that is focused there, something else is happening. Energy is displaced to that area and the temperature of that focused spot will rise. They say that prana flows where the mind/awareness goes. This is the reason for the importance of the body, mind and breath connection.
Peace Natural Strain Reccomendations
Dancehall: 60/40 Sativa Hybrid THC: 10.2% CBD: 12.7%
This Strain is great prior to yoga. Sativa provides energy while the indica relaxes the body. CBD helps avoid anxiety, increases focus while decreasing inflammation.
Chrome+: Indica Dominant THC: 17.1%
This strain is great for body relaxation prior to Shavasana, and for mediation.
Devas: A member of a class of divine beings in the Vedic period, which in Indian religion are benevolent.
Mahashivaratri: is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of the god Shiva.
Sadhu: a holy man, sage, or ascetic.
Samahdi: a state of intense concentration achieved through meditation. In Hindu yoga this is regarded as the final stage, at which union with the divine is reached (before or at death).
By Katia Kush
Certified Yoga Teacher