Practicing Yoga While High: Great in Theory, but the Benefits are Cloudy

Although yoga and marijuana cultures are increasingly overlapping as of late, those who seek an authentic spiritual experience should opt for yoga first, pot second.

Nearly thousands of years of practice in addition to a multitude of scientific studies have proven that yoga can offer a wide variety of benefits. Many yogis experience a range of life-improving effects including increased flexibility, better focus, lack of stress and anxiety, and protection from injury. In fact, yoga’s mental and physical health benefits have become so well known that the practice has evolved from an ancient Indian discipline to a mainstream workout trend. 

Those who practice yoga may find commonalities with members of other alternative lifestyles. For example, many people who eat a plant-based diet, wear clothing made from all-natural fibers, and attempt to maintain sustainability, also practice yoga. There’s a stereotype, as well, that these sort of individuals may indulge in marijuana or other substances. Of course, not all vegetarians practice yoga, and not all yogis smoke marijuana; but, there is an assumption of overlapping or blending of these identities in mainstream culture.

As a result, marijuana and yoga have reached an intersection. In fact, in cities throughout the world, from Toronto to Los Angeles, many yoga teachers are offering classes targeted at those who like to practice while high.

Although the concept of smoking pot before going to yoga class is not new in and of itself, the openness and community aspect are relatively recent trends. While most of these studios are not legally allowed to sell or provide marijuana, many are encouraging yogis to bring their own stash to share in a communal setting before, during, and after the class. 

Despite the fact that marijuana can raise your heart rate by 20 to 100 percent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, practicing yoga while under the influence does not pose any immediate health risks. In fact, many of those who practice yoga after smoking pot report benefits ranging from increased relaxation to improved focus. 

However, many yoga purists believe that this is not the proper path for finding enlightenment – or a variety of other spiritual benefits yoga can offer. Julie Philips-Turner, founder of Chesapeake Yoga & Wellness, wrote on DoYouYoga, “the feelings produced by use of marijuana is known in yoga as ‘maya’ or a veil of illusion.” Those who are seeking the inner peace and tranquility often associated with yoga, may want to consider attending class first and smoking later.

Philips-Turner added that ”what yogis should remember, is that real enlightenment and reaching Samadhi won’t come from a weed, it comes from hard work and persistent practice.” The desired effects that may come easily for some after smoking pot, can be felt naturally by those who truly dedicate themselves to their practice. By going to class as often as possible, ideally three-to-five days per week, if not every day, yogis will find that the inner peace they seek will come to them organically and perhaps when they least expect it.

Although attending a class after smoking weed may be a fun novelty, a yogi’s practice likely won’t improve unless they smoke after they honour their bodies and minds.