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Doing yoga differently

(COURTESY GANJA YOGA MTL)

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You’ve heard your yoga instructor say bring your own mat, but bring your own weed usually doesn’t follow.

Complete awareness in body mind and spirit. That’s how social manager for The Medicine Box, Wenniseriiostha Samantha Pepin, describes the combination of yoga and marijuana at the cannabis dispensary in Kanesatake.

In collaboration with Ganja Yoga MTL, the dispensary has been offering different yoga sessions every Sunday morning, for the past year.

“Cannabis is an incredible addition to any physical activity, especially when it comes to either adding to the joy of activity or simply jumpstarting the pleasurable feelings that come with something like yoga,” said Pepin, who has been working at the dispensary since it opened, in December 2018.

The Medicine Box’s mentality goes beyond selling products, and believes that “it’s not just about weed, it’s about life,” she said. The dispensary is known to perform lab tests on every product, making sure there’s no mold and pesticides in the cannabis they are selling.

Pepin explains that the intention is, similar to yoga, to provide awareness as to what goes into the body.

“Cannabis belongs to the people and it is the people that should be empowered into growing it and making it part of their lives,” said Pepin.

Such a frame of mind goes hand-in-hand with the meditative and therapeutic aspects of yoga. Various studies have shown important health benefits, helping to deal with a wide range of issues from back problems, memory and depression, all while improving self-awareness.

These benefits were also part of the reasons why Cynthia Petrin, the 29-year-old woman behind Ganja Yoga MTL, wanted to start a collaboration with The Medicine Box.

“In our actual society, we have so many different stressors,” said the ganja yoga teacher. “I think we need to relax more, to connect with our mind and body and learn how to breathe mindfully.”

Petrin started to teach in May 2018 after she discovered that there was an entire movement behind this particular combination. In 2009, Dee Dussault, the Canadian pioneer of the ganja yoga became the first person to offer public cannabis enhanced yoga classes.

Over the years, the practice has gained popularity all over the world, along with hot yoga and the latest goat yoga trend.

But parring yoga and cannabis is actually not something new nor distinct to our current society.

The two ancient medicines are mentioned in the Vedas, one of the oldest religious books from India and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. According to the texts, cannabis and yoga are both considered a source of joy, a tool to face fear and stressful situations.

“I always felt like I was able to go deeper in my practice,” said Petrin, who’s been smoking for more than 10 years.

“It helps to control my breath, my thoughts and my body became lighter, softer, more peaceful. It allows me to deal with anxiety.”

While yoga’s postures can sometimes be intimidating – don’t look up tittibhasana before heading to a class – these sessions are opened to anyone. In Kanesatake, it’s been attracting people of all age ranges, and all levels of experiences of with marijuana.

Once the practice is over, Petrin makes sure everyone is feeling good and are okay to get back home safely.

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