Some yoga practitioners believe marijuana can help them enrich and deepen their practice. Smoking pot is becoming more accepted as more states legalize marijuana. Yoga is a living, evolving entity that responds to this change. Classes designed with the buzz in mind have been popping up nationwide. What’s the story? Is it better to smoke marijuana before yoga or not?
Svadhyaya (self-study), and research, are essential to determining whether smoking marijuana before yoga is the right thing for you. It’s crucial first to understand the effects of marijuana on people in general and you personally. Is it making you euphoric and relaxed or paranoid and anxious? Your brain will either go into overdrive or may slow down. If you’re aspiring to yoga, the most critical question is, “Does it bring me closer towards a state where I am one with myself and my spirit?”.
The physical effects of marijuana are pain relief and muscle relaxation. It is perfect for Hatha Yoga, allowing you to stretch more deeply and relax without the distracting pain in your lower back or knees. Pain and discomfort are your body’s signals to slow down. You can overstretch muscles and connective tissues without these cues. Injuries are more likely to be intensified. Smoking pot may make it difficult to concentrate and learn alignment details. Poor alignment can render your yoga practice ineffective or even dangerous.
Marijuana alters your brain chemistry. Many people struggle to concentrate when stoned. The first step towards yoga’s highest meditative state is to focus on one thing (Dharana). Concentration is not possible if marijuana makes your mind race. Asana performed without reflection and curiosity will not advance your cause. Conversely, a hyper-focused mind cannot access vairagya (detachment/renunciation), -a vital ingredient in yoga.
Rastafarians and sadhus in India, among others, believe that the smoke of this holy herb can bring one closer to God. Cannabis can produce feelings of euphoria similar to those described by enlightened yoga masters. This can be a convenient shortcut for some people. Still, it could also be a form of spiritual bypassing where you try to achieve a false spiritual experience to avoid personal issues or pain. True samadhi, or absorption, is often achieved through self-reflection and yogic practice.