Cannabis users more likely to choose yoga


LUKE HOLLISTER | The Daily Evergreen

WSU researcher Carrie Cuttler talks about her current and future projects involving marijuana.

JACOB MOORE, Former Evergreen sports editor

Many stories have surfaced online, telling personal accounts of using marijuana during a workout, a jog or even a yoga session. However, recreational marijuana has only been legalized in eight states, limiting potential research on cannabis and the actual effects it has on physical activity.

Clinical assistant professor of psychology and WSU researcher Carrie Cuttler moved from Canada to Washington State to add to that finite amount of research.

“I saw greener pastures, so to speak,” Cuttler said while snickering. “I thought, well, maybe I’ll pursue this cannabis research given I’m looking for something new.”

Cuttler is currently working on two separate research studies. One looks at the effects of different forms of exercise on cognition and stress, while the other aims to understand the effects of chronic cannabis use on stress and cognition.

“I haven’t married those two lines of research yet,” Cuttler said, “but it is in my long-term goal to do so.”

In her studies so far, Cuttler has found for the first time that resistance exercise improves prospective memory right after the exercise is performed. Prospective memory is our ability to remember to do some act in the future.

Cuttler said persistent cannabis use affects our prospective memory most severely. She looks forward to seeing whether exercise could be treated as some sort of “intervention” in cannabis users.

Exercise could be a solution to curb marijuana habits, she said. On the flip side, it is believed that cannabis might benefit those who participate in certain activities, such as meditation or yoga.

“Some people are reporting that they feel that it helps them to be more immersed in the yoga session,” Cuttler said, “and to be a little bit more mindful and more present.”

Cuttler also mentioned the growing trend of cannabis-yoga. Places like “Ganja Yoga” in San Francisco, California, or “Yogasmith” in Seattle are popping up all around the country. Some cannabis-yoga businesses even offer participants marijuana during their sessions as part of the experience.

Director of Exercise Physiology & Performance Laboratory Christopher Connolly said there hasn’t been much research done on this topic.

“It appears we don’t know much about cannabis use and yoga performance,” Connolly said. “But some who use cannabis may be more likely to choose yoga as their physical activity modality than another form of exercise.”

Connolly said marijuana has been found to make working out at higher intensity levels more difficult. Motivation to work out has also been found to diminish after cannabis use.

Cuttler hinted that Canada will probably legalize marijuana at the federal level by this time next year. As nations increasingly allow for recreational marijuana use, more research is expected on cannabis’ effects on physical activity.

Until then, Connolly said everyone should be careful in promoting the “simultaneous utilization” that comes with marijuana.

“While some benefits [of cannabis use] have been indicated among isolated populations,” Connolly said, “it is not important to short-term or long-term health in general.”