Cannabis Yoga

Cannabis Yoga

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."

White continued:

"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.

How to Create a Smile Jar for a Better Mood

How to Create a Smile Jar for a Better Mood

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Have you ever been in a funk? The other day I woke up, restful, and was in a funk the whole day. I couldn’t seem to shake it. How could after a long night sleep, working out in the morning, and eating a good breakfast could I still be in a funky mood? 

Serotonin Push

Funky moods can be a result of low serotonin. Sometimes bad moods and funks can happen when we feel listless, out of control or overly emotional. This can come from being around a toxic person or feeling overwhelmed with our schedule or work projects. 

Serotonin is a molecule that helps us feel balanced and contributes to our well-being or state of calm. Of the approximately 40 million brain cells, most are influenced either directly or indirectly by serotonin–including those related to mood, sexual desire, appetite, sleep, memory and learning and social behavior. When your serotonin is out of whack, it feels like everything is out of whack. Some research suggests that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression.

Creating the Jar of Happiness

I wanted to create an outlet that would drip serotonin into my brain. I then thought of what I call the Smile Jar. Super easy and fun to make! This is a great way to help give your brain a shove in the right direction. 

This project is great for anyone and everyone!

Step 1

Get a container to hold positive affirmations, jokes, and anything else that makes you smile. I used a jar but you can use a box, bowl, chest, etc.

Step 2

Write down or print lots of positive affirmations, jokes, funny pictures, and anything else that makes you laugh or feel good. 

Step 3

Put your findings in the container. Pull from the container at least once a day. Encourage others to pull from the container too. However, if anyone else pulls from the container, encourage them to replace their affirmation with a new one that they can write down.

There you have it! Really easy and fun to not only create but to use daily. Get creative and make it your own. Use bright colors, cut into fun shapes, or even use glitter! 

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Reversing Negative Thoughts

  Reversing Negative Thoughts

 

The more that an individual’s thought patterns trend negative and slip into rumination, continually turning over a situation in one’s mind and focusing on its negative aspects, the easier it becomes to return automatically to these thought patterns. That’s not so great for our health. According to a blog post in Psychology Today, ruminating can damage the neural structures that regulate emotions, memory, and feelings. Even when our stress and worry is completely hypothetical and not based on any real or current situation, the amygdala and the thalamus (which helps communicate sensory and motor signals) aren’t able to differentiate this hypothetical stress from the kind that needs to be listened to.

Distracting the Mind

Edward Selby, Ph.D., suggests in a post on Psychology Today, that engaging an activity that fully occupies the mind, such a crossword puzzle helps distract the negative mind set. 

Being Mindful

Mindfulness is a non-judgmental awareness of moment-to-moment experience, and a regular meditation practice has been proven to be immensely valuable in shifting negative thought patterns and brain activity.

Meditate

Meditating regularly helps shift negative thought patterns, it also helps the brain focus its attention and even slow the loss of brain cells. 

Search Why Meditation Kicks Ass for more information

Practicing gratitude

People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they're thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. Gratitude doesn't need to be reserved only for momentous occasions. Research by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal, regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.

The key is to be diligent in monitoring what you are thinking, to catch the negatives before they have time to become entrenched. With practice you will notice right away when you are thinking negatively, and you then can take the appropriate actions. The mind is a creature of habit, so encourage positive thoughts and eliminate negative ones. Try to not let negative thinking build up in the inner sanctuary of your mind. We are responsible for the thoughts we think. Take action to eliminate negative thinking.

Why Meditation Kicks Ass!

Why Meditation Kicks Ass! 

I always had this preconceived notion that meditation was something monks did upon a misty mountain. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago, into my adult life, that I actually tried it. At first it seemed a bit challenging. All these question were bouncing around in my mind. 

Am I doing this correctly? Am I supposed to close my eyes? How long am I supposed to be here? What am I supposed to be thinking about? What should I make for dinner? I think there was a breathing technique a yoga instructor mentioned. One thought after another crept into my already busy mind. 

After some practice and discussing meditation with like-minded folks, I discovered meditation is way more simple than I was allowing myself to believe. This isn’t brain surgery, but allowing your mind to chill out, if only for a minute. 

What is Meditation

The word meditation, is derived from two Latin words: meditari (to think, to dwell upon, to exercise the mind) and mederi (to heal). In Sanskrit, 'medha' means wisdom. Meditation means awareness. Whatever you do with awareness is meditation. "Watching your breath" is meditation; listening to the birds is meditation. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation.

Meditation is not a technique but a way of life. Meditation means 'a cessation of the thought process’. It describes a state of consciousness when the mind is free of scattered thoughts. The one who is meditating realizes that all the activity of the mind is reduced to one.

 

Your Brain on Meditation

 

In the image below you can see how the beta waves (shown in bright colors on the left) are dramatically reduced during meditation (on the right).

Why Meditating Kicks Ass

After even a couple of minutes of meditating. You may experience the following: 

  • Less Stress
  • Less Anxiety
  • More Focused
  • Increased Creativity
  • Better Memory
  • No more worries
  • More Gray Matter (This is a good thing)
  • Little things don’t get you bothered
  • Better understanding of knowledge of your self  
  • Overall better health - YAY Health! 

You Do Have Time to Meditate

“I don’t have time to meditate.” I’ve heard this from a plethora of folks. When you really want to do something, you can find time. Try getting up earlier or watch less TV. Meditation requires an investment of time, but clearing the mind makes the rest of the day more productive. What is the point in being tremendously busy but unable to enjoy it? Meditation is not about retreating from the world; it gives us inspiration. If you have peace of mind, your work will indeed be more enjoyable and more productive.

How To Meditate

Like most things, meditation requires practice. To get the most from meditation try do it every day. This requires a place and time where you will not be disturbed. 

  • Start with just 2 minutes and increase as the weeks go on.
  • If you have the time, create a peaceful atmosphere; candles, incense, oils, crystals, and anything else that will bring a peaceful session.  
  • Sit in a comfortable position. You can sit on a pillow, rolled up yoga mat, anything to get your hips slightly elevated above your knees. 
  • Sit up tall, inhale your shoulders up to your ears and exhale down the back. Relax, there’s no right or wrong. 
  • Gently close the eyes and focus just on taking slow deep breaths.  Notice how the breath feels. 

That's it! As you strengthen your practice, your time will get longer. This will become second nature. It won’t take you as long to relax the more you practice. Just try to enjoy and chill out.

Props are the Bees Knees

I am in love with props for yoga. As a yoga leader I almost always use some sort of prop or tool in my classes. It’s interesting though, most days when I have yogis grab their tools I get the funniest responses. A common reaction I’ll get is as if props are training wheels and the yogi is a big kid that doesn’t need them. I’m not sure when or how props got a bad reputation but I’m here to explain why props are the shit! 

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Props + Muscle Memory = Great Alignment

Props help our bodies find the most resourceful alignment, which over time creates muscle memory that stays with us. Even after the prop is removed the body will find that same alignment. All of this contributes to an expanded self awareness and an expanded asana practice that's grounded & balanced.

Longer is Better

Props can help as if we had longer arms and legs. Everybody has different bodies, injuries, and are in different stages in their yoga practice.  Props offer alternative, accessible variations so everyone can experience the pose true to their own body’s needs. Using props helps to reduce and eliminate injury.

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Elevation is Key

 

Blankets, bolsters, and blocks, oh my!

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, these props can help elevate a part of the body. For instance, while in a seated position, it’s nice to have the hips slightly elevated above the knees for ultimate comfort. Elevating the pelvis by sitting on folded blankets will allow you to gradually release and open the hips while you lift and lengthen your spine. 

Not Flexible? No Problem

If it’s one thing I hear all the time it’s “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.” With props now every person can do yoga! I understand it may feel discouraging to not be able to touch your toes, but when a yoga instructor says that doesn’t matter, they mean it. Breathing is to do yoga and with the assistance of props, you’ll be able to achieve your goals quicker and safer.

Chair Yoga

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The use of chairs allows yoga to be accessible to people who cannot stand or lack the mobility to move easily from standing to seated to supine positions. While seated on chairs, yogis can do versions of twists, hip stretches, forward bends, and mild backbends. All this makes chairs an amazing prop. 

Ultimate Prop

Then there is the ultimate prop, the yoga hammock or yoga swing. This prop defies the law of gravity and becomes the mega prop, allowing the body to do things it normally can’t do. From an extra stretch lengthening within the spine to floating in the air.

Final Prop Thoughts

Take a breath and except change. Change can be a good thing. Everyone in yoga can use props. It doesn’t make you a “weak” or “wimpy” yogi. I encourage you to use one or five props. No matter what class you are in, close your eyes and listen to your body. Who cares if the person next to you isn’t using any props? Do what feels right for you. Either way try not to stress over if you should or shouldn’t use props. It’s just yoga. 

Happy Propping.