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Yoga and Psychedelics

Posted under: Latest News, News and Science

Yoga and psychedelics are both mind-expanding, they share the same common theme of connection between mind, body, and soul. Nevertheless, is it a good idea to mix the two together? An increasing number of yoga practitioners seem to think so. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the link between Yoga and psychedelics and if psychedelics can enhance your yoga practice. 

 

 

 

 

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Soma

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To understand the potential link between yoga and psychedelics, we need to look at Soma. This was a sacred drink that’s mentioned a lot in ancient religious Hindu texts known as the Vedas.  Texts describe the drink as being prepared from plants.

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Soma was known as the nectar of immortality and people drank it to bring them closer to the gods and to achieve altered states of consciousness. In Yoga, Soma is always associated with the crown chakra, which Hindu’s and Yogis believe is our direct link to the universe. 

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The exact ingredients of Soma remained a bit of a mystery. But because the effects of this drink were mind-altering, many scholars believe that it contained a psychoactive substance. Possibly a local hallucinogenic mushroom, or cannabis, which is a sacred herb in Hinduism.

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Yoga and Soma

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Hindus started practicing yoga around about the same time that they moved away from the mountains. They created communities on the banks of the river Ganges, and no longer had free access to their sacred mind-altering plants. 

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Some scholars believe, without psychoactive Soma, people looked for other ways to connect with themselves, god, and the universe. And they found it in the form of meditation, stretching and breathwork, and they called this yoga. 

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The Yoga Sutras, strongly refer to finding higher states of mind. And Pranayama, the practice of controlling your breathing can send you into trance-like states. Pranayama techniques were the inspiration for Stanislav Grof when he was developing Holotropic breathwork.

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Today some believe that the real fountain of Soma is well within you and tapping into that nourishment will make your life enlightened and blissful, without the need to recur to psychedelics.

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Can Yoga and Psychedelics Mix?

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Recent studies show that the effects of yoga and psychedelics have pretty much the same effects on your brain. And when used together, they complement each other to give a greater effect. But this is no secret, psychedelic icon Ram Dass famously combined psychoactive drugs with yoga and meditation in the ’60s.

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These days, many people see Yoga as a form of exercise, but stretching and postures are just one small aspect of Yoga. Good Yoga practice also demands meditation, mental discipline, clean living, and a deep connection to the universe. And these are things that we also get inspired about during a psychedelic trip.

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For some people, using psychedelics with yoga will completely enhance the experience on every level. But others find that yoga alone is enough to get them into a higher state.

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In many ways, they’re one and the same thing and ultimately, it comes down to personal choice.

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Lani Allowah wrote a great book about this question: Who Am I?: Yoga, Psychedelics & The Quest for Enlightenment.

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The book explores these topics through both a scientific and a personal approach that is altogether new—the author’s own journey as he transitions from spiritual and yoga purist to open-minded examiner in the realization that psychedelics have been employed by yoga practitioners throughout its history.

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Tips for Psychedelic Yoga Practice

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If you’re curious about incorporating psychedelics into your yoga practice then just like any kind of psychedelic experience, you need to plan it carefully. And if you haven’t practiced Yoga before then it’s a good idea to take some classes first. 

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Below, we’ve put together a few guidelines if you want to safely practice Yoga while under the influence of psychedelics.

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There is also this great article by Yoga Journal in which they explore the potential role of psychedelics within a yoga practice or as a therapeutic treatment: ‘’Would You Consider Trying Psychedelics to Take Your Practice to Another Level?’’

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Dosage

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We believe you need to be very cautious about dosage because you need to have some clarity and control over your body.

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If it’s your first time, start with a microdose, and gradually increase your dose each time you practice. This gives your body and mind time to adjust to the new sensations.

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If you are trying with Magic Mushrooms, a microdose would be below 0.3g, but you could easily go to 1g with time and practice.

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Set and Setting 

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Set and setting is all about carefully preparing yourself and your environment for your trip, or in this case, Yoga practice.

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Getting your set and setting right can literally make the difference between a good and bad experience.

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Get everything ready before you take the psychedelic substance: your yoga mat, props, water, fruits, and nuts in case you get hungry after.

Think about music and dim light, candles are a great idea.

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Don't push it

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When you take psychedelics, a lot of the time, you’ll be very physically relaxed. So even if it feels easy, don’t push yourself too much into Yoga postures.

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It might feel good at the moment, but it could result in injury.

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And at the very least, you’ll be feeling the pain for days afterward. It’s important to build up to Yoga postures gradually.  

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Rest

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Practicing Yoga on psychedelics is very powerful, so, if you start to feel overwhelmed at any point, stop and go into a resting pose such as swan or child.

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And if this doesn’t help you to relax, stop practicing and get into Savasana and connect with your breathing. 

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You can also drink some orange juice, eat fruits.

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Yoga and Cannabis

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Some people find that cannabis can enhance their Yoga practice. Not only is cannabis a big stress reliever, but because it’s a natural pain killer, it can also help people with chronic pain to practice Yoga.

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If you want to focus more on breath work and meditation, you should use an Indica strain of cannabis. And if you want more energy for physical Yoga practice then use a Sativa type.

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Take a look at this article by Yoga Journal: ‘’Cannabis and Yoga Go Together Like…’’ where they look at the impact THC and CBC can have on your practice.

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Conclusion

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Yoga and psychedelics are both tools that we can use to enhance our physical and mental health. Studies suggest that when you combine them, the overall effect can take you to the next level.

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No surprise then that more and more psychedelic yoga retreats are springing up all over the world. 

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At first glance, mixing yoga and psychedelics may seem controversial and contradictory, nevertheless, in many ways, they complement each other perfectly, but ultimately, you are the only one who can decide if this is for you, so take it easy, let it flow, don't rush into it. 

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Note: If you’re suffering from a mental illness and are curious about using psilocybin or any other psychedelic therapy, please consult one of the relevant medical authorities first. Do not self-prescribe, it’s vital to have the right support and guidance when using psychedelics as medicine.