The Rise of BYOP (Bring Your Own Pot) Yoga Sessions
Practicioners combine two therapies to improve their well-being.
As anybody who has ever stretched out for an hour or more on a yoga mat knows, there’s nothing new about mixing up a yoga session with a sesh. However, what you once had to travel cross-country to experience can now be enjoyed across the country. As a recent Wall Street Journal article about the transplanted yoga studio Bend & Blaze discovered, the pandemic brought even more people into the practice of mixing cannabis with yoga. And now that states like New York have legalized cannabis, those who took up both yoga and cannabis during the quarantines are now bringing it back with them to the studios.
The management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, in a recent study conducted upon “The New People Shaping Our Future,” polled 100,000 people about their lives post-pandemic, and devised eight different personas based upon their findings. During their inquiry, the researchers found, “77% of the general population are open to trying alternative therapies, while 62% already have. Globally rising healthcare costs contributing to waning accessibility lead people towards supplements they can get at any store and therapies that are a fraction of the cost of a doctor’s visit.“ As Bend & Blaze and the recent testimony of an endometriosis survivor who treated her condition using cannabis and yoga found, the road back to wellness for both individuals and people will include a range of practices and tools, with cannabis and yoga among the most favored.
The Long Road to Acceptance
Ganja, or 420, yoga has continually been debated over for many, many years. More traditional yoga practitioners turn up their noses, and suggest working with cannabis medicine can distort reality and obscure the overall quest for enlightenment yoga in its more esoteric forms is supposed to provide. Ayurveda adherents remark upon cannabis for what they consider to be its tamasic, or dulling, qualities. Used medicinally, cannabis’s tamasic nature can be helpful in quelling chronic pain or neuropathy, but ayurveda stresses that cannabis should only be used when necessary. Dr. John Douilliard of Yoga Journal gives this one example: “Marijuana was used in some spiritual settings to help still the mind, but never for any length of time because of the tamasic dullness of the mind it can create.”
However, those using it during 420 yoga sessions do not appear to be aiming for a dulling of the senses. Rather, those using it at Bend & Blaze are looking for a greater connection with a likeminded group of people. As B&B founder Amanda Hitz told the Wall Street Journal, “People want the community, they want to find their stoner circle.” In addition, cannabis yoga practitioners point to a long history of cannabis use amongst India’s sadhus, or holy men, some of whom smoke cannabis even as they renounce the rest of the world. They also point to Vedic texts which refer to cannabis as one of Hinduism’s five sacred plants, and a gift of happiness and liberation for humanity.
The Story of Ellie Wooton
Over in the United Kingdom, 420 cannabis is much harder to come by; more than likely, you’ll be working with CBD products if you find anything. However, the mix of cannabis and yoga, when combined as it was for Ellie Wootton with other healing modalities, can help to calm some of the more excruciating chronic conditions women can endure.
Since the age of 10, Ellie would experience pains around her abdomen before finally, after a hospital stay and numerous misdiagnoses, finally discovered that she suffered from endometriosis. Given the options to take a contraceptive, attempt pregnancy, take hormone injections or undergo a hysterectomy. She took the cannabis-and-yoga path. “Beforehand, I would say I was quite judgmental; I incorrectly classified it as a drug,” she told Cannabis Health News. “I really misunderstood its medicinal potential.”
Since then, she dove so deeply into yoga that she eventually went to Nepal to earn her yoga teacher certification. While Ellie’s experience is unique unto herself and not fully representative of what every person who experiences chronic pain can expect with yoga and cannabis, it also suggests that there is much we still have to learn about how cannabis, yoga and other lifestyle modalities can work for others, whether it’s as a social solvent or deeper treatment. The goal in both, it appears, is to remain flexible.