The How’s & Why of CANNA YOGA
A friend called me the other day, responding to a Canna Yoga post I added to Instagram. ‘Isn’t Canna Yoga kind of like making people drink a G&T before hitting the yoga mat? And isn’t that disrespectful to the yoga tradition?’, she asked. As an advanced yoga teacher and sporadic cannabis user, I decided it was high time to set the record straight.
Anyone who read my previous blog about healing with cannabis knows that I was a reluctant marijuana smoker. I like to be in control. I like to be busy, to feel useful and organised. What I don’t like is to surrender control: to be slow, still, and present. My yoga teaching journey has taught me a lot about letting go. But it was only when I combined yoga with a CBD-rich cannabis strain that I had the visceral experience of actually letting go.
For those curious about consciously combining cannabis in a positive, healthy way with your yoga practice, here is the lowdown on Canna Yoga.
Start Low, Go Slow
So, you’ve had a bad experience with cannabis? So have I. Generally speaking, that paranoid reaction is caused by THC, which is the psychoactive compound in marijuana but this is not the case with CBD – the non-psychoactive compound.
CBD and THC work in balance with one another. CBD brings about the feelings of calm, grounding and peace generally associated with cannabis use. On the other hand, THC gives the ‘head high’ which results in increased energy and creativity but can also cause paranoia and anxiety if taken at too high a dose, depending on how your body reacts to it.
As everybody’s body is different, and it’s hard to know how much will be too much, I’d highly recommend that first-time users start with a high-CBD strain of cannabis or even CBD only edibles, like these great CBD gummies or biscuits. After experimenting with incrementally larger doses of CBD, you can then consider adding some THC to the mix.
All of this begs the question: how do you know what’s what in a specific strain of cannabis? I recommend you read this article on strains or look to the growing gurus at The Haze Club, a 100% legal growing club in Cape Town, to guide you.
(For further information on avoiding cannabis-induced paranoia, read this Healthline article.)
Consume Cannabis Consciously
Canna Yoga is all about using cannabis consciously in conjunction with yoga to help calm the nervous system and invite a deeper sense of stillness. Remember, this is a journey so don’t rush it. A couple of drops of CBD oil, half a gummy or one small puff of a CBD-rich cannabis strain will suffice to start. Oils and edibles generally take effect within 30 minutes of consumption while smoking is immediate so factor this in before the class starts. Slowly increase the dose as you start to understand more about your personal capacity. For more experienced cannabis users, experiment with different doses and strains to see which results in the most beneficial response.
Family and household obligations are natural stressors. If we can’t practice Canna Yoga in studio, it’s essential to create a sacred space at home for this ritual of self-care. It’s also crucial that everyone in the home knows you are not available for the duration of the class; and you switch all of your devices off. These clear boundaries will help eliminate the possibility of further stressing the nervous system when children, dogs, or partners barge in (as they do) and start making demands.
Cannabis helps lower anxiety; yoga calms the nervous system.
Under normal circumstances, it can take up to an hour of asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing) to prepare the body sufficiently for savasana (meditation) and that deep, end-state of stillness that invites a more expansive state of being.
I find that when cannabis is taken in small doses before the asana practise, the body relaxes more quickly and this allows the yoga and breathing to take you deeper into yourself, even resulting in profound shifts of consciousness during the practice, and a greater sense of wellbeing after the practice. You’ll more than likely also sleep really well, which is always a plus!
The Endocannaboid System (ECS) and yoga.
Recent research has found that the body has natural cannabinoid receptors which bind to endocannabinoids, creating homeostasis (balance). This system is known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), and it’s responsible for the healthy function of the body as a whole. Similarly, the fundamental definition of yoga is the ‘union’ of body and mind to spirit.
Luckily for us, when you consume small doses of plant-based cannabinoids, found in the cannabis plant, these attach to endocannabinoid receptors of the ECS within our bodies, increasing the body’s capacity for regulating various essential body functions including sleep, mood, appetite and metabolism, to name just a few.
Yoga further encourages homeostasis by linking the body to the breath, and on a deeper level, to the realm of spirit. By consciously using both practices in conjunction, the canna yoga practitioner can experience deeper levels of harmony and balance.
OVER TO YOU:
It’s been my experience that the practice of consciously combining cannabis with the practise of yoga asana and pranayama is akin to inviting the body’s biology and neurology to rest in a state of balance and results in a state of deep calm. I believe that if you approach it with positive intentions and from an informed mindset that takes into account the medicinal power of the plant, canna yoga is deeply respectful of the yogic tradition and the practitioner’s capacity to heal their own stressed mind, body and spirit.
What is your view? I’d love to know. Tell me in the comments below and book a Canna Yoga class with KushKush.
Words: Willow Constantine