As 2016 comes to a close and memories of the past year remain perpetually frozen in time, New Year’s resolutions shake off their collected dust to once again motivate the masses. In 2017, I will be included in that mass, crossing fingers that my endurance won’t fade out halfway through (as usual) when January fades to February. So, to keep my spirits up, I thought I should try something new and stray from the basic “think more good thoughts” and “drink more water.”
For the year ahead, I want to focus on my body while opening my mind to a stronger creative flow. Cue both yoga and cannabis. Naturally, I decided to coax these effects out of both relaxing and energizing yoga routines while puffing on an assortment of cannabis strains.
Now, before diving ahead, it must be understood that I am a beginner to both and I hope my experiences may shed a bit of light to other beginners. My cannabis consumption rivals only those who have occasionally puffed on a passing joint at a party, and my yoga practice fares no better. I’m already an advocate for cannabis consumption, especially when hearing about surfacing medical breakthroughs, and I’ve always had interest in starting regular yoga practice – so why not explore both at the same time? After all, there has been a growing movement within cannabis legal states to offer cannabis-infused yoga classes.
The inclusion of cannabis in a yoga routine seems interesting enough to keep me going – I can imagine it will be a unique experience every time I hit the mat (and I’ll be less inclined to give it all up as I do my other dead and forgotten resolutions of years past).
To start, being the naïve cannabis consumer that I am, I had to pre-prepare for 2017’s new me (I don’t even own a pipe), so first thing’s first. With a little research and my insatiable love for elephants, I decided to purchase a small figure-pipe from SmokeDay complete with upturned trunk – a sign of good luck that will hopefully transfer to the year ahead.
With my newly purchased pipe in tow, next I needed to learn how to pack it (I told you I was a beginner). Thankfully, I stumbled upon this step-by-step guide to corral me around the ins and outs of a perfectly loaded bowl. With tools and tips at my fingers, I needed one more important piece to complete my ‘new me’ frame of mind: the cannabis.
Where do I begin? What strains should I try? Is an indica or a sativa better for yoga practice? Where should I go to get the best recommendations? Should I invest in a grinder? Should I ditch the pipe and eat some edibles?
This slew of unending questions could only be answered by someone who has extensive knowledge in cannabis strains and how they usually affect the body or mind. Enter Bailey Rahn, resident Leafly strains specialist and part-time yogi.
We took a bit of time out of the office to hit up Dockside Cannabis, where she walked me through the process. I believe at one point I uttered, “I feel like a helpless child,” having been surrounded by people with a lot more knowledge than I possess, but it only made this whole operation even more intriguing – the puzzle of it all. We walked out with an array of flowers – an indica, a sativa, a hybrid, and a CBD-heavy strain.
Since I am a beginner, I made the decision to bypass a yoga class and instead hide away in my home with a few yoga videos – it wouldn’t bode too well if I ended up dissolving into a paranoid mess in the middle of a class full of people. Also, what would I say to the teacher when I smoke the indica and end up napping during downward dog? So, to avoid my own self-consciousness of smoking in public, I resolved to take a few hits in my backyard before firing up YouTube and unrolling my mat.
Bedtime Yoga and Lavender
First up, Cole Chance’s routine for relaxing yoga – a 20-minute stretch just before bedtime. I decided to pair this with Lavender, a strain I’m most excited to try given my love for the fragrant flower. Surprisingly, I didn’t hack up a lung on my first inhales (it’s been a while), and I felt the effects soon after.
The Lavender didn’t knock me out right away – it floated around, giving me a delicate body high while keeping my mind in an alive and imaginative state. As Cole guided through each pose, I felt a stronger connection to my body that I had not experienced in a sober state of mind – it was more grounding, more inward.
I have done Cole’s bedtime video on rare occasions before, and when I would breathe through the stretches I would try to focus on outward thoughts usually revolved around nature – crystal lakes, gold lighted fields on a summer morning, hiking through lush green forests.
This time, pairing my routine with cannabis evoked an inward response – I was thinking about my body and how my muscles and joints communicated with the stretches. I pictured my bones melting into the floor, I felt my muscles relax. I believe my stretches were deeper and more engaged.
Unfortunately, after my yoga session was done I was hoping to drift off immediately since my body felt refreshed yet heavy, but my mind was awake and filled with mellow thoughts that wouldn’t let go. I awoke the next morning with tired eyes, but with a body ready to take on the day.
Hips/Low Back Yoga and GSC (f.k.a Girl Scout Cookies)
Sarah Beth offers a full hip and lower back routine that I thought would pair well with GSC (f.k.a Girl Scout Cookies), a strain that boosts body relaxation.
Contrary to my Lavender and Cole Chance yoga pairing, I felt a soft energetic body flow with GSC (f.k.a Girl Scout Cookies) and Sarah Beth. Instead of a physical and mental grounding, my body felt a bit ‘above’ what was happening on the mat and my mind was constantly distracted – I ended up focusing on muffled conversations and the sounds of cooking happening outside my bedroom door. My breath flow was only ‘okay’ – there were numerous times within the routine where I had to mentally remind myself to take long, stretched out breaths.
I’ll probably stick to the Lavender strain when considering a future relaxing yoga practice – the grounding element was smooth and highly contributed to a mental openness. However, I had less of a morning after ‘weed-over’ when smoking GSC and was more alert the following day.
Beginner’s Vinyasa and Tangie
Next, Yoga Shala offers a beginner’s vinyasa flow presumably perfect for the Tangie, a sativa-heavy strain.
The Tangie strain would have been a perfect fit for this yoga routine had my mind not wandered so far and around. Poses felt as though I was holding them for double the time, and I couldn’t wait to go into the next move and get the full routine complete. I felt light-headed and airy; my energy levels were going through the roof.
I think the best benefit to doing this routine while smoking Tangie was the after-effect. I had smoked midday, and after the energizing yoga routine I was ready to get things done – chores complete, extra work finished. Regretfully, I did not feel any deeper connection to the routine in general as I had with the indica strains.
Energizing Yoga and ACDC
Last but not least, Cindy from Psyche Truth has an energizing flow I decided to pair with ACDC, a cannabidiol-heavy strain for a clear mind and relaxed body.
I had a wonderful body high off ACDC while maintaining a clear mind. This cannabidiol-rich strain was one of my favorites to pair with an energizing yoga flow. During the routine I could control my breathing easily, and afterwards I felt refreshed – as though I had been internally cleansed. Peace settled throughout my body and mind. It was the most easy-going I had felt in a very long time. I would also suggest snacking on fresh slices of watermelon afterwards to complete this restoring flow and stave off dry mouth.
Thoughts and Conclusions
Overall, I’m extremely happy I went ahead with my New Year’s resolutions to find what works best for both my body and mind. Though there were upsides and downsides to each strain and yoga pairing, I found my two favorites lay in Cole Chance’s routine paired with the Lavender strain and Cindy’s routine paired with ACDC. I’ll be incorporating both pairings throughout the month while I continue to explore different strain and yoga couplings.
I highly recommend pairing yoga with cannabis to those who are hesitant or are unsure whether or not to incorporate both. If it makes you feel more comfortable, go ahead and take a class rather than attempting on your own (this option is preferable to those who want an instructor keeping watch of their movements). It was truly an eye-opening and thought-provoking experience.
If there are any strains you feel most connected to while practicing yoga or a type of yoga you feel most connected to while practicing cannabis, let us know!