Lately there’s been a lot of discussion around cannabis, yoga, and if it’s good for the body and mind to be high while practicing your downward facing dogs. Cannabis, marijuana, weed, ganja, pot, whatever you’d like to call it, has been around for centuries. It's offered as a tool in many cultures to help heighten to another level through spiritual ceremonies.
Dating back to 1500 BC, some of the sacred text of Hindus, Rig Veda, describes the use of Soma, an intoxicating drink, believed to be cannabis. It is interesting to learn that cannabis is actually illegal in India, but during Mahashivratri (Night of Shiva or Great Night of Shiva), people are allowed to consume cannabis in the form of what’s called Bhang. It’s made out of cannabis leaves with other yummy ingredients of almonds, spices, cold milk and sugar. Worshipers offer ganja to god and also consume it to attain a blissful state. Many Sadhus might not drink alcohol but are allowed ganja and bhang.
The Yoga Sutras, compiled around 400 CE by the sage Patanjali, outline the basic principles of yoga in 196 sutras and are widely considered the proper yoga text. Yoga Sutras 4.1 mentions cannabis:
“The subtler attainments come with birth or are attained through herbs, mantra, austerities or concentration...” Yoga teacher Ganga White, founder of the White Lotus Foundation, (which Yoga Journal has called one of the “architects of American yoga,") does consider the Sutras to include cannabis with the mention of herbs.
In a recent email, White stated, “Cannabis has a long tradition and advocacy in India and Nepal with the sacred ‘temple hash’ used by yogis. We seem to have a symbiotic relationship with these alkaloids and our bodies are loaded with cannabinoid receptors."
"Cannabinoids are one of the most promising and cutting edges in medical research. I don’t say all this to advise or recommend, just to help those with negative or fearful attitudes, those who don’t light up, to lighten up a bit. There have always been advocates and opponents to the bud...
"Yoga enthusiasts that need some sort of textual reference and approval have none less than the Patanjali Sutra, book 4, verse 1 which says that awakening can come various ways—occurring naturally or congenitally, from meditation, from suffering, from the inner flame, or from herbs and elixirs. So whether it is an ally, a medicine, or a poison for any individual is relative to that individual. Certainty is what we want, but relativity is what we have!”
In other related news:
Marijuana is said to open the chakras wider, because of the high vibrations of the herb.
For spiritual properties: Members of the Rastafari movement use cannabis as a part of their worship of God and for Bible study and meditation; they see cannabis as a sacramental and deeply beneficial plant and consider it to be the Tree of Life mentioned in the Bible.
Bob Marley, amongst many others, said: "The herb ganja is the healing of the nations."
In conclusion, with today’s technology, there are so many ways to consume cannabis and so many different strains of marijuana. Maybe you’re thinking about practicing yoga or meditating with hemp, maybe you’re already a partaker. Whatever your thoughts on cannabis yoga are, just listen to your body. Every single person has different bodies, injuries, and are at different levels within their yoga practice. Do what is good for your mind, body, soul. Don’t compare yourself to others that may or may not join in on cannabis yoga. If you do decide to join a cannabis yoga class, go slow and remember to drink lots of water!
Lord Shiva: a Love Story with Cannabis.
Once upon a time, long ago, before time as we know it, Lord Shiva, god of yoga (and the auspicious creator/destroyer, divine masculine husband to divine feminine Shakti, and part of the triad of supreme deities in Hinduism) became the god of cannabis. He was scorched in the heat of the sunlight when, by a stroke of luck, he happened upon a cannabis plant. Cannabis plants grew only in places where the cosmic ocean of the devas, or gods, had dripped Amrita, the elixir of life. Wherever the divine nectar Amrita touched down, a cannabis plant sprouted. Shiva consumed the plant’s leaves and was rejuvenated. So, cannabis became a favorite part of his diet, and he became known as the Lord of Bhang—which is a traditional edible preparation of the herb in India.