Chances are you’ve already heard of ganja yoga, the hot new trend that’s taking over San Francisco. It is the practice of performing the various positions or asanas of yoga while under the effects of cannabis. This had us at Cocoa Meds intrigued so we decided to check out the potential benefits that this practice may hold for our customers. Far from being a modern invention, ganja yoga is a practice with ancient roots in certain spiritual traditions. Let’s start by acknowledging that yoga and the spiritual traditions of the Indian subcontinent are as diverse as they are ancient.
Both yoga and certain varieties of cannabis (i.e. Indica) come to us from the sprawling subcontinent. Cannabis use in India can be traced back roughly 4,000 years while yoga has been practiced at least 1,500 years though its hotly debated origins may extend back 5,000 years to the Indus Valley Civilization. This means that cannabis and yoga may have had thousands of years to mingle. An example of this close connection comes to us in the form of Lord Shiva, a deity, who presides over yoga and ganja.
As the archetypical yogi, Shiva, is most often depicted with long, untrimmed hair meditating in full lotus position. In some traditions he is acknowledged as the destructive aspect of a creator-maintainer-destroyer trinity. However, in other traditions he is venerated as absolute consciousness. A festival called Maha Shivaratri is celebrated annually to honor Shiva and many devotees partake in the religious use of edible cannabis in the form of bhang. It is a potent beverage made by simmering cannabis in milk with an assortment of spices. Shiva is also emulated by some of his followers called Nagas. These ash covered ascetics are known to practice yoga in forest ashrams and smoke cannabis in chillums to help relax their minds and bodies to reach deeper states of meditation.
Health Benefits of Yoga
Now that we’ve tugged at the threads of this ancient practice, how can it benefit you? Let’s start by looking at the numerous health benefits of yoga which include:
- Increased flexibility and core strength
- Boosted immune function
- Stress Relief
- Better Emotional Health
- Cultivation of Inner Peace
- Better Mind-Body Connection
- Weight Loss and Muscle Toning
- Joint and Bone Health
- Reducing Inflammation
That is by no means an exhaustive list of the potential benefits of yoga! Much like medical marijuana, it is able to act therapeutically on a wide range of conditions. This may be because they both act through the nervous system to lower stress. Cannabis does this through the endocannabinoid system. THC and the metabolites your liver produces when ingested bind to CB1 receptors throughout the central nervous system to promote relaxation among many other benefits. Yoga acts through the autonomic nervous system to balance our fight or flight response, which, is often out of whack due to the stresses of modern life like traffic jams, deadlines and a host of other factors. It would make sense that yoga and cannabis may complement each other in lowering stress.
Practice Makes Perfect
After a long day of crushing deadlines and climbing the corporate ladder an evening of cannabis infused chocolates and asanas might be just the thing to help you recharge. If you’re new to yoga and your balance feels a little shaky at first don’t worry, just keep practicing! If you don’t have time to make it the studio or simply prefer to stay in we have you covered, here is our favorite resource for the stay at home yogi.