Ganja Yoga by Chris Bennett
“We beseech, kindle the perfect ambrosia: the supreme nectar of sacred knowledge, the sacramental substance, here for all the assembled yogis.”
~ The Mahakala Tantra*
With legalization in Washington and Colorado and over a dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use, it seems there is a buzz spreading through North America these days. Some members of the yoga community have caught it as well, leading to some recent news stories about the development of Ganja Yoga. However, not all schools of yoga, nor advocates of the Eastern practice approve of cannabis-enhanced asana sessions, and this has led to some debate.
Most of the critics of the combination of cannabis with yogic practice seem to assume this is a rather new development; an offshoot of the medical marijuana movement and the growing cultural use in the West of cannabis, but the reality is the combination of marijuana and Hatha Yoga is considerably old as can be seen from a thorough examination of the historical record, which shall be cited here.
However, it is first important to note that one of the causes of this debate, is the confusion that yoga is simply a form of fitness and exercise, as it has become largely seen in the West. This actually just represents one branch of yoga, Hatha Yoga—or the yoga of postures.
There are many different types of yoga: Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion; Jnana Yoga, the yoga of the mind; Karma Yoga, the yoga of service; Tantra Yoga, the yoga of rituals; Kriya Yoga, the yoga of medtiation and Raja Yoga, the yoga—which comes down to us from the sage Patanjali and his ancient codification of yogic practices, with its eight limbs of Yoga:
1. Yama: universal morality
2. Niyama: personal observances
3. Asanas: body postures
4. Pranayama: breathing exercises, and control of prana
5. Pratyahara: control of the senses
6. Dharana: concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
7. Dhyana: devotion and meditation on the Divine and Samadhi: union with the Divine
However, all these various forms of yoga have a common goal, and that call is the merging of subject and object reality into the classical cross cultural mystic state and experience of oneness: samadhi or union with the divine.
Yoga means union, and it is here that cannabis can offer its beneficial qualities to the seeker of this state which is the true original goal of yoga, not how one looks in their yoga pants. The goal of Hatha Yoga is so that one can sit comfortably in a meditative state, without the distraction of various body irritations and achieve this mystic trance of oneness.