For some reason, I’ve been feeling a little anxious lately. After doing some research, I found that anxiety is innate in our genetic makeup , and never completely goes away. In fact, it can act as a warning, and save your life by helping you avoid a dangerous situation. However, since I don’t usually face any real danger in my day-to-day routine (city traffic excluded), I realized I need some natural remedies to relax my mind. That’s why I started learning about yoga and meditation.
I quickly found both yoga and meditation have one major thing in common: Strengthening your mind-body connection is dependent on your ability to find your breath. Since I’m already familiar with the mind-body effects of cannabis, I wondered: What happens when you add cannabis to the equation? I did a bunch of research on combining elements of yoga, meditation, and cannabis, and discovered some pretty cool breathing techniques that I highly recommend incorporating into your cannabis and wellness routine.
Yoga and Pranayama
Pranayama is known as the fourth limb of yoga, the vital life source of energy that courses through our bodies at all times. Most people will say that breathing is a two step process: Inhale, exhale, and repeat. The act of pranayama adds an extra two steps for a total of four. Essentially, you add a pause at the end of every inhale and exhale. Your inhale, exhale, and pauses should be continuous and consistent. Think of the tide on the beach rushing in and falling back. Pranayama should never be strenuous, either. Don’t inhale or exhale so much that it’s uncomfortable. You won’t gain anything from it.
Take a puff of cannabis, and try this flow out:
Inhale 2 seconds
Pause 2 seconds
Exhale 4 seconds
Pause 2 seconds
Repeat (with or without another puff…)
Feel free to adjust hold times to your needs, but try to maintain that 1:1:2:1 ratio. This example will help you get started.
Another technique I’ve grown fond of is the “pinprick of light” visualization technique. Try this after you feel comfortable with the pranayama technique mentioned above. It’s not much harder, but it does require you to do two things at once: breathing, and visualizing.
First, take a small puff of cannabis, and then a few deep breaths. Next, imagine there’s a tiny pinprick of sunlight in the center of your chest. Picture that light expanding over your whole chest and shrinking back down with the rhythm of your breath. Once that feels comfortable, imagine that light expanding past the width of your chest and throughout your whole body, then outside, then even further into the world. Imagine that light expanding through all the places you’ve been in your life: across counties, cities, states, countries and continents. I’ve found this to be a wonderful way to bring back amazing memories of the places I’ve been.
The other visualization technique I highly recommend starts the same way: take a puff of cannabis, and then a few deep breaths. Feel the weight of your body against the surface you’re sitting or lying on. Now start to give each body part attention, one part at a time. Start from either your head or your toes, and make your way up or down the line with slow, steady breaths. Then do it again, and imagine each body part being filled with warm sunlight as your breath passes through.
I’ve learned from experience that these techniques are better practiced alone, or in a group of like-minded individuals who won’t burst out into laughter, or munch on barbecue chips while you try to concentrate. The energy of your environment should be similar to a yoga or meditation class. Also, know that none of these breathing techniques is better or worse than the others. It’s all personal preference. Just make sure to be consistent throughout your session, and enjoy the ride!