Why some yoga classes are using pot in their practice – Toronto

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Class was supposed to start almost 20 minutes ago. Most of the yoga students are still socializing, sipping tea and taking a few last tokes of marijuana.

The group slowly makes their way to their mats, spread out in the centre of the Green Sprouts Cafe and Vapor Lounge. The Barrie, Ont., cannabis lounge hosts cannabis yoga classes every Sunday. 

“We’re always 15 minutes late,” said cannabis yoga instructor Trina Wannamaker. She was busy toking up too.

Cannabis yoga instructor Trina Wannamaker tokes before starting one of her classes. She’s been teaching the class for about eight months. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

The cannabis class is a lot like regular yoga. There are downward dogs, child’s poses and cobras. But some students have vaporizer bags at their side, ready for tokes when needed. Others get high before class, using volcano-shaped vaporizers.

Erin Jewell, who co-instructs the class with Wannamaker, said students are welcome to toke up at any point though there’s no obligation to.

“Where a normal instructor would say, ‘Hey, have a glass of water,’ we’ll say, ‘Have a glass of water or a bit of a toke.’”

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Instructor Erin Jewell helps students wind down near the end of a cannabis yoga class. She said consuming cannabis before class makes for fewer inhibitions and feelings of judgment. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

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There are two classes on Sundays, moved later to accommodate church-goers and what Jewell calls ‘stoners’ who like to sleep in. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

For Jewell, the pairing helps her focus more.

“It’s a connection of the mind and the body, which is hard to achieve in Western society at all, but especially if you are completely stone sober, it’s not likely to happen at all,” she said.

“It helps to allow your thoughts to move a little slower and to really allow you to truly focus on your body and your breathing.”

‘I can do it sober but …’

Curtis Hagerman inhales a couple vaporizer bags before class and keeps one at his side during so he can toke here or there. The cannabis helps him relax.

“Marijuana can … help you not think about it. Make it go away. A little easier to kind of look at the void and just be OK with it all. And concentrating with your breath and kind of losing yourself in that,” he said. It also helps Hagerman with his flow — movement crucial to yoga.

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