Pullman would benefit from cannabis yoga


RACHEL SUN | The Daily Evergreen

Cannabis is historically paired with yoga due to its awareness-heightening affects.

JACOB MOORE, Former Evergreen sports editor

Pullman needs cannabis yoga. Such a business would take advantage of residents’ interest in marijuana while improving on the region’s lack of recreational opportunities.

Joel Benjamin, director and teacher at Seattle’s Yogasmith offers one of the few platforms in the nation for cannabis-enhanced yoga. He argues that every city — and especially Pullman — would benefit from this type of “restorative” business.

“There’s other things you can do when you’re high that can actually enhance your life instead of killing time,” Benjamin said. “For college-aged people to start to get that message, they’re going to view cannabis in a different way than how baby-boomers view it — as an alternative to drinking.”

As of July 2017, Pullman has raked in nearly $15 million in recreational cannabis revenue — an abundant amount of money considering the population size of 33,000. Of the 120 cities and towns that sell marijuana in Washington state, only five have less residents and more revenue than Pullman, according to 502 Data.

With their wallets, Pullman residents have clearly indicated support for recreational marijuana. Thus, interest and involvement in cannabis yoga would surely be high (no pun intended).

The community initiative Pullman 2040 conducted a survey and found that both recreation and the downtown atmosphere are two weaknesses of the city. Cannabis yoga can add to the list of recreational opportunities and, if located on the downtown strip, it can improve the downtown atmosphere.

There are multiple coffee shops, bars and dispensaries throughout the city, but no business combines cannabis with yoga or meditation. The first of its kind would likely niche in a large audience due to its uniqueness.

“The thing that turns me on the most about offering cannabis-enhanced yoga is that it reconnects cannabis with yoga,” Benjamin said.

Yoga and marijuana is a growing trend, but according to April Short of AlterNet, the combo isn’t new.

“Yoga and cannabis are intertwined in antiquity,” Short said. “In India, the birthplace of yoga, the sacred status of the cannabis plant, or ganja/hashish was revered and celebrated as an integral part of culture for millennia.”

Due to the legalization of recreational marijuana in multiple states, though, cannabis yoga is making a comeback.

Multiple yoga studios like Yogasmith in Seattle are pushing the “spiritual” trend upward.

“It’s funny because I’ve been teaching yoga for about 12 years now and people come to yoga stoned all the time,” Benjamin said. “It’s no secret.”

Benjamin makes the point that while cannabis yoga is a derivative of regular yoga, participants indulge in an entirely different environment.

“You can’t really enjoy your practice when you’re constantly watching everything you do,” Benjamin said. “Getting high and going to a regular class sounds like fun, but I don’t think it is because you become overly watchful of yourself.”

It’s difficult to relax in an environment when you have a heightened sense of awareness. This can lead to paranoia. On the other hand, if everyone in the class is under the influence of marijuana, Benjamin said there’s less paranoia and more mindfulness.

The overall class structure is different than a regular yoga class as well. Participants are advised to arrive “pre-elevated” as Benjamin likes to say because laws prohibit consuming cannabis in the studio.

Benjamin describes his cannabis yoga class as having a minuscule level of guidance. The techniques are simple and there’s plenty of time for exploration of free movement. Sounds are a huge part of the $20 class, which ends with participants given time to close their eyes and focus on their own “trip.”

People aged 21-40 are the most common demographic that Benjamin sees in his class, but he admits that seniors have shown interest as well.

I wouldn’t be advocating for such a business in Pullman if it didn’t have a history of yielding results.

Nine months ago, Benjamin halted his initial cannabis yoga class out of fear from anti-marijuana political rhetoric. Considering the successes of his class, Benjamin recently decided to give it another go.

“It was really popular before the plug got pulled,” Benjamin said. “I realized nobody’s going to come after some yoga studio in Seattle to make a point. If it’s important, we ought to stand up and just make it happen.”

Now, it’s time for Pullman to stand up and make cannabis yoga happen.