Cannabis-friendly yoga was once a California niche, as the state’s early medical marijuana laws helped spawn a proliferation of events that paired weed with an ancient Hindu tradition. Now, as attitudes towards cannabis consumption continue to shift, high yoga has made its way to the East Coast too.
Despite its growing popularity, the rise of 420-friendly classes has caused some debate within the yoga community. Does consuming cannabis help one’s yoga practice — or hinder it? Does THC intoxicate, or heighten the experience? Would THC hinder the pursuit of “clarity and purity of mind”?
For yoga teacher and body positivity advocate Jessamyn Stanley, who is based in North Carolina, cannabis has been an essential part of her wellness routine for much of her adult life. On a summer afternoon at The Wing, a women’s co-working space where we are both members, Stanley told me about how cannabis was an essential part of her career in yoga — even if she hasn’t always been open about her use.
When it comes to the “is weed good or bad for yoga” debate, she falls firmly on the side of “good.”
“I incorporate [cannabis and yoga] in every way that you could,” she said. “I’m a big fan of medicating throughout the practice.”
Stanley is quick to explain that it might not work for everyone. “I can see the situation where someone would be like, ‘I can’t do it while I’m practicing,'” she said.
I nodded in agreement, thinking of my own ill-fated attempts to write after consuming cannabis. (Writing and weed may go together for some, just not for this reporter.)
But for those who find that weed helps them let go, combining cannabis and yoga can be symbiotic.
“Ultimately, cannabis allows us to release, and yoga is allowing you to release,” said Stanley. “Anything that you can do to get down to your most true self is key.”
So how should people go about integrating cannabis into their yoga practice?
Do: Pay Attention to Dosage and Strain Choices
“I think that it’s a good idea to go slowly and pay very close attention to dosage and strain,” advised Stanley. “Don’t just be like, ‘Oh, you know what, I’m going to start incorporating cannabis and yoga, and I’m just going to start with like, like a one gram joint.’ If you don’t usually do that, don’t do that.”
Do: Stick With What You Know
Stanley suggests using whatever products or consumption methods that you’re already familiar with, whether it’s topicals or vapes or maybe even an edible taken a couple hours before your practice.
“Listen to yourself — that will guide what needs to happen next,” she said. “Don’t think too much about it.”
Do: Build an Individualized Practice
When it comes to cannabis and yoga, creating an individualized practice is key, according to Stanley. Her new yoga subscription service The Underbelly isn’t explicitly 420-friendly, but it’s all about creating a “yoga space that is really authentic to you.”
While she hopes to one day incorporate more talk about dosing through the practice, “in the short term, it’s just about enjoying at your leisure, as it makes sense to you,” she said.
Don’t: Set High Expectations
But perhaps her most important advice for cannabis-curious yogis and yoga-curious stoners is to not set many high expectations for themselves.
“A lot of times, people are like, ‘I’m gonna practice [yoga] for an hour every day for the rest of my life.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh, okay, in three weeks you’re going to be over it,’” she said.”
“Just go with what makes the most sense for where you are right now. If you have 10 minutes in the morning and that’s your yoga practice, it’s beautiful, it’s perfect,” she said.
And don’t worry about striking the most Instagram-perfect pose, either.
“It’s you at your house, farting, naked with your dog.”
TELL US, do you practice yoga high?