In the past, I’ve commented on the odd coupling of yoga and alcohol, and yoga and cigarettes. Today, I’m going to talk a bit about yoga and pot. A recent NY Times article draws attention to a small, but perhaps growing, trend: Yoga classes for people who are stoned.
Now that pot has essentially been legalized in Washington and Colorado — two places where yoga is already very popular — we’ll probably start to see more and more classes with names like “420 Yoga” and “Ganja Yoga”. Of course, there’s not much to stop yogis now from smoking some dope at home and then heading off to their favorite yoga class. But it’s an entirely different beast when the teacher is also stoned, and the class is designed specifically on the assumption that everyone in attendance is flying high.
It’s no surprise that a lot of yogis object to this marriage of yoga and pot. On the face of it, it seems 100% antithetical to the aims and principles of yoga, no matter what school or tradition you may be a part of. Yoga, for instance, is sometimes said to bring us closer to a union between body and mind. But pot seems to do the opposite, making us disoriented and out of touch with both our bodies and our minds. In fact, when someone smokes a bit too much, we often describe that person as being “out of his mind” — and this is generally not a good thing.
One proponent of stoned yoga, quoted in the NY Times piece, claims that marijuana and yoga do go together, because pot relaxes the body, one of the main points of yoga (supposedly). Other stoned yogis make an appeal to tradition, claiming that the ancient sages used drugs, so it’s okay for modern-day practitioners to do the same.
Personally, I think it’s a bad idea to do yoga while you’re stoned. I’ve never done this myself, so I can’t speak from firsthand experience. I have, however, done yoga after having a few beers at an afternoon BBQ, and this was certainly not a great experience by any means. Being under the influence just made my yoga practice that much harder. It also made me hyper-aware of the changes that even a few beers can have on my body and mind. In a strange way, though, doing yoga under the influence did enhance my practice, because it introduced a totally new and unpredictable challenge. Maybe being stoned would do the same thing?
Of course, alcohol and pot do not have the same effects on the body and mind, so I can only really speculate as to what it’d be like to do yoga stoned. One thing I can say, though, is that a stoned yogi is not likely to be able to maintain the sharp focus or clarity of mind that is essential to a strong yoga practice. Maybe this is a good thing if you’re a master yogi looking for an additional level of challenge. But for the rest of us, mixing pot and yoga is probably about as sensible as smoking pot while studying for the SAT — it might relax you and introduce all kinds of novelty to the experience, but don’t be surprised if that’s all you get out of it.