Bhakti Yoga – Karma Yoga
Reflecting back on how cannabis was introduced to my life I have began to realize the greater connection between the plant and my yoga practice. In 2011 I was introduced to both activities Bhakti yoga and cannabis- I was a rookie smoker getting stoned out of my mind unable to get off the couch, and I was an intro yogi not knowing what down dog was. Throughout my own personal growth I started to use both the plant medicine and yoga as ways to calm my mind and help me find my inner passions.
In 2015 I found myself at Karma Yoga Studio, a spiritual based yoga studio in Denver, CO. The studio was nothing like any other studio I had been to before. Mostly all the exposure I had to yoga before that was either on my TV, Youtube, or a Core Power type class. Since my main focus from 2011-2014 was mostly staying in shape fitness-yoga was perfect for me. However, as I started to get older and was working out and lifting weights everyday I no longer needed yoga as a physical practice. Not knowing that I was searching I found my peace at Karma.
The first class I ever took at Karma was a Thursday night live music Bhakti class. I knew nothing about Bhakti or what that meant, all I knew was that the Yelp reviews all recommended me trying the class, and it was free so why not. The class was nothing I had experienced before. The energy of the studio vibrated the walls, the Instructor Katrina was a free soul like no-one I had encountered before. In the middle of class Katrina invited the students to close their eyes, forget about everyone around you and just dance.
Wait – just dance?
I had been dancing since I was 2 years old – river dance, clog, tap, jazz, ballet- you name it, but I wasn’t a dancer. Not in the literal sense. I didn’t know how to dance unless someone gave me guidelines and moves. Katrina was offering for everyone to just dance and feel the music. For a Type A personality like myself this seemed unreasonable and embarrassing. I didn’t know what to do. So despite the instruction I peered my eyes open and watched everyone around me being free. In the most literal sense of freedom I watched students leg go of their inhibitions and sway to the live music. It was magical.
After a few classes I got more comfortable with this free form dancing, even though I know I have zero rhythm it didn’t matter. I became at home at Karma, I had found joy in yoga in a way I never knew was possible.
The yoga I began practicing at Karma was Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti means “attachment, devotion to, worship that engages both emotion and intellect.” In the fall of 2015 I started a yoga teacher training at Karma with Katrina and my Guru, Saul David Raye. Saul specializes in Bhakti yoga and plays the harmonium while serenading students with his voice during classes. I began to learn more about the Bhakti culture including mantra, deities, and Kirtan musical celebrations.
I had found a home in Karma and Bhakti something completely unexpected and out of character for myself. During this time I continued to use cannabis on a daily basis before yoga training and classes. I found that the cannabis allowed me to curb my ego and allow my body to flow without judgement. I truly was able to find bliss in my time with Saul and on my mat.
Since my YYT Training wrapped up in January 2016 I have continued to teach yoga and spread the word of Bhakti. While my classes are not as elaborate as my Guru’s they have an element of Bhakti – letting go of yourself and seeking bliss. Whether you find that bliss for 2 minutes or 10 seeking your passion through yoga, music, and even cannabis is a beneficial practice.
Bhakti Yoga Cannabis
My personal opinion is that yoga and cannabis can be used together to help heal the mind and body, to help deter the always chattering ego, and help guide oneself to a higher level of consciousness. Whether cannabis is used during meditation or yoga the effects are immense. For those who have not tried Bhakti I recommend seeking out a local studio that specializes in spiritual yoga or look into yoga fests such as Bhakti Fest and Shakti Fest.
How have you incorporated cannabis into your yoga practice? What unexpected lessons have you learned and grown from?