Many people have questions concerning the interaction between cannabis and spiritual practice. To begin with, the use of cannabis in yoga and mediation is controversial. My position is not based so much on textual quotations, but on my own observed inner experience. Nonetheless, the most ancient text of Hinduism, the Rig Veda, speaks of the use of Soma from the very first chapter and throughout. There is considerable evidence that the main ingredient of Soma was bhang – ground up cannabis and ghee (clarified butter) and milk or yoghurt along with rose water and various spices. The great Lord of Yoga, Lord Siva, uses Bhang.
Of course, there are those who maintain that one should not ingest anything that will alter one’s consciousness. Hence, they avoid any stimulants, narcotics or alcohol. Even caffeine is banned. In argument to this, just how far does one go in eliminating food or drink that affects one’s mental or emotional state? Should all and every drug or medicine be proscribed? What about stimulating, energizing food and drink, like Gatorade? This carries into “performance enhancing drugs”, a big issue in sports.
Yoga asanas could be considered in this later category. What performance enhancing foods are allowed in an ayurvedic or yogic diet??? I must confess, I use coffee along with my cannabis, and find the combination delightful, as I have elsewhere noted.
Since one practices yoga and meditation to purify and unify the mind and body, the purity of what you ingest is of paramount importance. Whatever we put in our bodies ultimately affects our health and consciousness. For this reason one needs to restrict one’s diet by eliminating meat and eating organic foods as much as possible. This is especially true of cannabis flowers.
So if you use this herb, the first thing is to determine the quality of cannabis you are using. Has it been grown with organic methods? What nutrients were used? What pesticides, if any were used? Does the joint have a dark black ash as it burns? This last can be an indicator that certain fertilizer ingredients were not entirely flushed out or even that a chemical pesticide was used and not washed off before harvest. So who do you trust to grow your herb? Not coincidentally, it turns out that Sungrown, organic, biological methods are the best way to grow the best cannabis.
If smoking is causing anxiety or paranoia or other mental discomfort, you may be sensitive to the particular cannabinoid/terpene profile of that strain. As more research is being done, people are investigating what is called the “entourage effect”, that is the totality of the compounds and their relative proportions in an individual strain or even a single plant. So maybe you need only switch to a different brand or strain which could become your new favorite, because it has a higher percent of CBD, or CBN, or CBG or whatever. Or it just makes you feel good and heightens the ability to concentrate.
Another more subtle factor is the “vibe” that is put on the cannabis flowers through the intention and attitude of the cultivator as well as the overall atmosphere of the garden and the trim room. Cannabis cultivated indoors in factory conditions (which are also stressful to the workers tending the plants), with artificial lights, trimmed by machine and grown solely for profit, will effect one differently than flowers grown with love in the full sun up in the mountains with pure air and water.
With that all said, there is no claim that cannabis is universally good for everyone. It is good to take a break now and again, if only for better self-observation. Try to notice subtle or gross effects. I have seen that when I meditate late at night before bed after a day of smoking cannabis, it can sometimes be that my thoughts are racing and jumping like the proverbial monkey. But once I focus and settle in, I seem to be able to lock in to deeper unity. The morning meditation, then, is without any cannabis stimulation, and it does start out a little more mellow, perhaps a bit less visually moving. Still the cannabis is in my body, where it can be detected for up to 6 weeks after ingestion. So I guess that I am constantly saturated.
Concerning the chakras, this is good place to focus your attention, using each one’s bija mantra for centering. I recommend using Harish Johari’s book illustrating the chakras. Meditate on each painting by staring at it until your eyes tear up and you have to blink. In the process, memorize the itemized qualities of each chakra, including color, ruling deity, Prana, plexus, letters of the alphabet, etc.
By staring at the image, called Taraka, you burn it into your retina and your memory, so much so that you can see it in your third eye in the negative, with your eyes closed. Then you always have it with you for recall and projection into the third eye. Cannabis can aid in the process of visualization, which is also better done at night in a dark room with just a spotlight or flashlight trained on the painting of each chakra. Focus on each one for at least a week. Find a strain of cannabis, usually of the Sativa order, that wakes you up and brings on the brightness.
There are other uses of cannabis in the practice of yoga that enlist the more strictly medical properties. For muscle strains and other pain, various salves and ointments are very effective. Tinctures and edibles can help with pain relief before bedtime. Smoking a nice fatty with a 50/50 balance of THC to CBD will relax the muscles and ease inflammation, often enabling one to enter and hold asanas more deeply. It can also lead to the spontaneous creation of unique asanas.
In sum, check the purity and quality of the herb, witness the differences in your inner awareness and go with your gut instinct about whether to use cannabis or not. I would not say that anyone should or needs to use cannabis. Only your inner voice knows what is best for you and your spiritual progress.