|Graphic: Cafe Press
Classes are being offered in California and elsewhere which combine two kinds of relaxation and centering: yoga and marijuana.
The 4:20 Remedy Yoga Class at Brazilian Yoga and Pilates in Atwater puts together “two of hippy-dippy California’s favorite feel-good, vaguely medicinal pastimes,” reports Amanda Lewis at LA Weekly.
Yoga teacher Liz McDonald noticed that many of her private clients showed up high to practice yoga, so she decided to offer a class specifically catering to a cannabinated clientele.
She conceived of the class as “a gathering of creative minds, a very non-judgmental place where all are welcome,” McDonald said. “Do I really want a couple of uptight conservatives in here? Ideally, no, but … my business welcomes all types of people, especially those tight-asses that may need it most!”
You don’t get to toke up inside the yoga studio; students are expected to medicate in their vehicles in the parking lot before class. But, the Weekly reports, the 50 members of the “420 Yoga Los Angeles” Meetup.com group seem to have no trouble finding pot on their own.
McDonald and class instructor Stefani Manger think that traditional yogis who claim marijuana is a toxin that inhibits enlightenment rather than facilitating it are just too uptight. McDonald doesn’t mind if students come in late or high, although there are limits to her tolerance.
“Should anyone ever come here drunk?” she asks. “No, but if they had a beer and a pizza before they came, I don’t care.”
“I think marijuana creates an inquisitiveness, a stillness, something that allows you to concentrate on one thing at a time,” said one student. “And tactile sensations feel better, so as you’re stretching everything basically feels good.”
The Californians aren’t the first to combine yoga and marijuana.
|Photo: Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail
|Jane Fast, left, and yoga instructor Dee Dussault smoke marijuana before starting a “ganja yoga” class at Dussault’s studio on Grange Avenue, Toronto, September 1, 2010.
A “Ganja Yoga” class in Toronto which combines pot-smoking and yoga practice got some coverage from reporter David Silverberg in the Globe and Mail last September.
“When you’re high, you can focus better on your breath,” said Dee Dussault, who runs the monthly session of “cannabis-enhanced yoga” at her home.
She said smoking small amounts of marijuana before a yoga class also makes students more receptive to the poses and the philosophies behind them. “For some people it makes them uninhibited and open to the idea of a heart chakra, for example,” she said.
Dussault runs ganja yoga classes out of her home studio as well as at the Hot Box Café in Toronto’s Kensington Market. The class takes place on the last Friday of each month, after work, and costs $15 per session.
She often invites a musician to play relaxing tunes during the 90-minute session, and she gives out munchies — fruits, nuts, and tea — after the class.
Among the ground rules at Dussault’s studio are that participants must bring their own cannabis, and there’s no dealing or mooching allowed. She encourages participants to work on their yoga skills before embracing ganja yoga.
Dussault’s class isn’t the only one in Canada for cannabis-enhanced yoga, either. The B.C. Compassion Club Society, based in Vancouver, offers yoga sessions for those who use medical marijuana.
Many yoga patrons are “medicated” when they start these sessions, according to the club’s yoga therapist, Nicole Marcia, but for a very good reason: “They need marijuana in order to fight the chronic pain and anxiety they feel,” she said.
Many other dispensaries and compassion clubs in California, Colorado, and increasingly in other medical marijuana states like Washington, offer yoga classes.
“My husband says it helps him increase his body awareness and makes him more relaxed when he does the poses,” said Qat Carter, who teaches yoga at The Herb Shoppe in Colorado Springs.
“I like the idea of smoking pot as a spiritual experience, not just for recreational use, said Tanya Pillay, 35, who attends Dussault’s ganja yoga classes in Toronto. “When you take an activity like yoga and take the altered state smoking pot creates, it combines to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.”
“Yoga and marijuana, together, it’s like putting salt on your food,” she said. “It’s just a little enhancement.”
One qigong master from Washington state agreed with that assessment.
“Cannabis and relaxing, healthful exercise can be a great combination for those who have chronic conditions which would not allow them to relax or exercise otherwise,” the qigong expert told Toke of the Town Monday afternoon.
“Relaxing, healthful exercises like yoga or qigong can be combined with cannabis with healthy blissful synergy,” he told us. “One may have to approach things slighlty differently when it comes to meditation because cannabis can interfere with some forms of meditation, but all in all cannabis should be considered a good adjunct with relaxing, healthful exercise for those in need.”