Call it ganjasana, marijuanasa, weed-infused yoga, or stoned yoga — getting high before you get on your mat is quickly becoming a favorite pastime in legal states like California or Colorado. But whether you’re new to cannabis, new to yoga, or merely new to the combination, you’ll want to take a closer look at how your body responds to the pot coupled with the postures. To get a better idea of how to go about pot yoga, Jane Street interviewed yoga instructor Hannah Mason, founder of Lit Yoga, the first cannabis-only yoga studio in Los Angeles. She has been educating yoga students over the past year about how to integrate cannabis into their yoga practice.
How much do you recommend someone smoke before they start yoga? And how soon after smoking should they begin their practice?
Consumption is very dependent on your experience and tolerance with cannabis. I recommend for the average beginner that taking anywhere from three to six hits from a joint is a great place to begin. I recommend consuming at least 15 minutes before beginning you practice to allow time for the plant to meet your system and for you to feel the affects. At Lit Yoga, we drink herbal tea while we smoke for 15-20 minutes while we intake the medicine.
Can you smoke in the middle of your practice?
Again, specific to the individual, but I often like to take a ten-minute break halfway through my practice to hydrate with water and will often smoke again at this point.
How do edibles, vapes, and flower compare when you practice yoga?
Edibles take much longer as they work through the digestive system, so I recommend that if you are using edibles with your yoga practice it is best to consume the edible anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half before you practice. How quickly it will hit depends on your metabolism. Vapes are a nice and less harsh way to consume before doing physical activity and can be gentler on the lungs — a great place to start for those that do not smoke or don’t like to inhale smoke. I notice that flower has the most immediate effect which allows for more regulation of dosage amount when practicing yoga. In general, starting with five to ten milligrams of THC is a perfect dosage for practicing yoga.
What kinds of strains do you recommend?
I recommend indica or hybrid (indica dominant) strains for yoga practice because they tend to induce a relaxed and open body high, as opposed to sativa strains, which sometimes make the mind feel busier! One of the purposes of yoga, meditation, is to slow and quiet the mind, so indica strains are a better fit.
How does cannabis get you more in touch with your body during yoga? Does it help you realize where you have pain or tightness? Does it help you loosen up?
I notice for myself and our students that cannabis often acts as a microscope in the body. It accentuates the areas of tightness or tension and brings everything right to the surface. The power of the cannabis plant in combination with yoga begins here. Once you can identify the areas that are tense or in pain, it is easier to direct breath and attention and compassion there. This is all part of the practice of yoga. Bringing together breath and movement to create more spaciousness and freedom in the physical body, and therefore more expansion in the mind.
How does cannabis help you mentally during yoga? Does it help you focus? Does it ever get you too caught up in your head?
Cannabis can be a wonderful aid in concentration. During the yoga practice, it can help the mind zone in on the present moment, on the body, and the breath. I think when people experience the busy mind or anxious feelings that cannabis can induce, it is an opportunity to look at those feelings and thoughts and then release them. The combination of movement and breath is a powerful way to release stagnant energy or invading thoughts from the body and mind. Cannabis brings everything to the surface, and sometimes this means fear or worry, yet the plant also assists in creating a space of love, compassion, and understanding. The cannabis plant is a connector, and so is yoga. Yoga equals “to yoke,” which means union or connection. The two go hand in hand to support a healthy and stress-free life.
Is there a certain style of yoga you like to practice when you’re combining it with cannabis?
When using cannabis in your practice, it is best to start slow and easy. For this reason, restorative and yin classes are a perfect pair with cannabis. For those who are more experienced yoga practitioners or cannabis users, the plant is a powerful addition to a hot yoga practice as well.