Keep Calm & Canna Nidra

Join KushKush & Naomi Marshak for a Free Zoom session of canna-nidra: a meditative form of yoga with a cannabis-infused twist.

Words: Justine Stafford

If you had told me a couple of months ago that I would be touting the innate health benefits of getting a little bit high before my yoga and meditation practice, I’d have laughed out loud. I use high-CBD strains to help manage my anxiety but smoking weed before my practice? That felt like a step too far.

Then I met a dark-haired, elfin-faced yogi called Naomi Marshak who told me about her idea to use the conscious consumption of cannabis to modernise the traditional practice of yoga nidra: a powerful meditation technique that allows you to systematically access a deep state of rest and mental rejuvenation.

‘As someone who experiences high levels of anxiety at the best of times, yoga nidra is an invaluable tool that helps me manage my own stress levels’, she says. If used intentionally - at the right strain and in low doses – she believes that adding cannabis to the mix elevates the experience even further and can produce far-reaching, regenerative effects on the entire limbic system.

‘We know that cannabis is incredibly effective in alleviating physical and mental tension, which in turn helps the body to soften and makes the mind more malleable and open to the power of the imagination, a key aspect of yoga nidra’, she explains.

While sceptics may question the use of cannabis within the yogic or spiritual realm, Naomi says it’s not a new concept. ‘The ancient yogic sutras of Patanaji reference ‘”light filled herbs” to increase the spiritual, physical and emotional benefits of these practices.’ 

Although other forms of canna-yoga do exist around the world, Naomi likes the fact that yoga nidra encourages participants to set an intention, what is known in Sanskrit as a sankalpa or ‘vow to self’.

‘The sankalpa is a statement you choose and then affirm to yourself throughout the nidra practice’, Naomi explains, adding that you can choose to either connect to a heartfelt desire or a more deliberate goal. ‘The broader intention of canna-nidra is for cannabis to allow you to explore your personal sankulpa more freely and deeply, and to emerge rested, reinvigorated and with renewed capacity to realise you heartfelt desires and set your goals in motion.’ 

How does it all work? It’s quite simple, really: the first step of canna-nidra is to slowly build heat in the body using a gentle 25-minute vinyasa flow sequence. ‘This helps release excess stress and tension and prepares the body for the prolonged stillness of the nidra’, Naomi explains. Then get warm and comfy, and rest in savasana (corpse pose) on your mat or bolster, set your sankalpa and let Naomi gently guide you through the pancha maya kosha (five layers of self) that make up the 30-minute nidra practice.

You can either eat a cannabis edible at least 30 minutes before you start (so it kicks in during the session, and not an hour afterwards); or have a quick puff or two of a joint or vape after the vinyasa, while you’re setting up for the nidra. Or both, depending on your tolerance. Our advice? Start slow and stick to low-THC or balanced 1:1 THC/CBD strains to stay clear, calm and connected throughout.

Excited by everything Naomi had told me, I volunteered the KushKush team to trial the canna-nidra concept with her. Thanks to the national lockdown, we did it via Zoom, and even Jo Hope, founder of KushKush, who has never done yoga before, joined in and loved it. “It was great to be able to do yoga, smoke a joint and meditate, all in the comfort of my own home. I felt like very happy jelly for hours afterwards.”

Sound like something you’d like to try? We hope so!

KushKush will be hosting a FREE Zoom Canna Nidra class with Naomi, next Wednesday evening 22nd April 2020. All you have to do to join is email us here and let us know, so we can send you the email link and further guidelines. Hope to see you there!

Main Image: Fabian Moeller @ Unsplash
Illustration: Rae Lakey


Would love to join your class

Noni April 22, 2020

I’d love to join the canna nidra :)

Jamie Sareli April 21, 2020

I’d love to join the canna nidra :)

Jamie April 18, 2020

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