New Age Yogas: Ganja, goats and journals! 

Woah there. Before you get your feathers all ruffled, you’ve got to realize that Ganja has been around for thousands of years.  I get it, you’re a die-hard Yogi and disapprove of putting any form of stimulants into the body. I’m not here to judge or preach in any direction.

If I’m not mistaken, the ancient texts of the Vedas and the Bagivad Gita both make some subtle references to it.  Back then, it may have been known as Soma.  They weren’t against it 3000-5000 years ago and Lord Shiva himself is frequently associated with cannabis. 

This isn’t exactly a new thing even in our era, but I’m willing to bet that, as legalization continues to grow, so will Ganja yoga.  And why not? If it helps someone relax, handle chronic pain, get in touch with their higher self (pun intended) or simply help them loosen up and be in the moment, is there anything wrong with that?  

Dee Dussault, the first teacher to offer public cannabis yoga classes, coined the  term Ganja yoga and is an Amazon best seller author on this subject. She began classes ten years ago, operating out of her living room in Toronto, Canada. 

So, what goes on in a Ganja yoga class? Simply put, you get high, then do yoga.  Depending on where you live, some studios allow you to smoke inside whereas others ask that you consume your goods before entering. The aim is to be more mindful, relaxed and pain-free; just like any other Hatha yoga class, right?

I know, this isn’t for everyone. Let’s explore some other options.

Coffee and tea meditation

I wrote about this a little while ago (click here for the full blog )It’s a quick little meditation you can do anywhere and anytime and basically just brings you into the moment.  Start your day like this, or take a much needed break during the day to recharge mentally.  If you drink coffee or tea, why not give it a five minute try? 

Bonus tip: it can even help clear blocked sinuses a bit by inhaling the steam. 

Go ahead and make whatever you normally make- see how simple that is? You start with what you’re already doing.  Whether you’re sitting at home with it, or at work, just close your eyes before you even take that first delicious sip.  

Hold the cup under your nose like a mini steam bath for your nasal passages. Inhale deeply, expand you lungs, take in that wonderful aroma. You might even feel your mouth water. Your tongue is practically trying to escape your mouth so that your taste buds can have their fix. Hold on.  Exhale, deeply. More. Gently let all the air out of your lungs. Pause. Hold the breath for a heartbeat, then inhale the aroma again, deeply.

Do this about three times, just enjoying the scent, the heat, those few precious moments that you have. Then, finally, have your first sip.  Savour it. Keep those eyes closed! Another deep breath, another deep exhale, another long sip.  Relax with the steam, savour the flavour, notice your breath.

Ah. You’re done. 

Yoga/journalling/positive affirmations

Beautiful things happen when we keep an open mind.  I tried both of these approaches, woven into a regular Hatha class, a number of times, before I actually started to warm up to it.  Although I’m a writer, I’ve never been one to journal and although I have a personal mantra that I repeat likely hundreds of times a day, I thought listening to positive affirmations was hokey. 

Fast forward to today; I am actually in the process of helping organize a fabulous tribe of women to gather once a month for yoga journalling and positive affirmation classes, among other things. Here’s some basics.

Sample class:

You start off with your centring; closing your eyes, slowing your breath, quieting the mind, followed by a few warm-up stretches, moving the spine in all six directions.  Then you take out your journal and this can either be an opportunity to just unload everything that's chattering away in your brain out onto paper, and leave it there, or to have the teacher offer some prompts. 

Some good ones to start with are:
I am happy about (blank)
I am frustrated because (blank)
What upsets me is when (blank)
I am anxious because (blank)
I want to/I will (blank) 

Take a few minutes to journal, followed by your sun salutations and peak poses, then go back to your journal. Quickly re-read what you wrote.  From there, you can either narrow down what you’d like to explore (if you did an information dump), or ponder what might be holding you back from achieving your goals, or what is contributing to your frustrations or anxiety.  Depending on what you had written, you could also explore what is in your control and what isn’t, taking the opportunity to then let go of that which does not serve you. 

After about 5-7 minutes of journalling,  you resume your practice. Just before final meditation or savasana, you return to your journal one last time.  Here, you focus on ending on a positive note, either stating a positive course of action you will take, or allowing yourself the freedom to let go.  Some suggested prompts can be:

I am going to (blank)
My next step(s) will be (blank)
I cannot control this/these things, so I will let them go (list items)

You then do your final meditation or corpse pose.  At this point, you can tell yourself some positive affirmations, or if you’re teaching a class, this can be incorporated while at the end of auto suggestion (a guided relaxation technique). Try some of these: 

I am responsible for my own happiness
I am at Peace
I am determined
I am strong
I am unstoppable

End on a positive note. Once the practice is done, one can either keep the journal pages to build on next time, or participate in a burning ceremony. Participants can feel very vulnerable after such a practice so it might be nice to follow the class up with a quick coffee/tea meditation session.  

Photo credit: Talksonlaw/Pixaby

If you love being on the water, this one’s for you. Forego the usual yoga clothing and don your bathing suit or shorts and t-shirt for yoga on a stand up paddle board.   It can either be a quiet meditation or doing actual asanas on the board.  Although most places say that you don’t require prior experience, you should be able to tread water and swim short distances to participate. 

Horseback/Goat/dog/cat yoga

Are you giving me this look? 

You get the picture. These animals are involved- these type of classes actually exist. One hour from where I live, there’s puppy yoga, and if I want to travel two hours, I can have goats stomp on me. Personally, I practice with my cats but it can be distracting at times. If you love animals or are just plain ol’ curious, check out what’s happening in your area.

Aerial Yoga

Your yoga practice is taken off the mat and into the air with the use of aerial yoga hammocks. Some benefits include immediate spinal decompression, relief of pressure on injured joints and the provision of proper spinal alignment thanks to gravity.  These special hammocks can even be purchased for an at-home practice in the $36 to $150 price range. 

Laughter Yoga (Hasyayoga in Sanskrit)
This involves incorporating prolonged forced laughter into your yoga practice, with the belief being that forced laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.  

This was created by an Indian physician named Madan Kataria, author of the book Laugh For No Reason and there are roughly 5000 Laughter Yoga clubs worldwide. Namastahahahahhahahaha. 

Nude yoga

Okay, I don’t get this one. Apparently this has been around since about 1960 but is only gaining more popularity in recent years. I would imagine that you should be absolutely confident with your body to do this. That rules me out, folks.

Aqua yoga 

I’ve got a great aqua sequence that I’ve been working on. As the name suggests, this is yoga in the water, usually in a pool setting, and has been done in resorts world-wide for decades. 

Great for people with injuries and gentle on the joints, yoga in the water can challenge your balance while offering a sense of extra flexibility and buoyancy.  Your body is more relaxed in the water, allowing you to get a better stretch in each pose.  Imagine a savasana where your body is draped over pool noodles, your ears just below water, listening to muffled sounds as you float effortlessly. 

Cake Yoga

Ok, this isn’t really a thing. But wouldn’t that be great? 

Photo credit: RitaE/Pixaby

Judy Volhart
CYA-RYT 200, Author, Blogger