Gym a drag? Why not try a weed yoga retreat

05 May 2019 - 00:00 By NIVASHNI NAIR
Surfer-turned-yoga teacher Roxy Louw and her fiancé, Sam Barton, are offering cannabis yoga retreats for stressed professionals.
Surfer-turned-yoga teacher Roxy Louw and her fiancé, Sam Barton, are offering cannabis yoga retreats for stressed professionals.
Image: Esa Alexander

Puff and pass is not a new yoga pose, but a new craze that some South African yogis are practising to achieve a higher plane.

Surfer-turned-model-turned-yoga teacher Roxy Louw is offering cannabis yoga retreats where participants do basic poses with a twist, as weed enhances stretches and calms nervous systems.

"Combining yoga with cannabis allows us to recognise negative patterns of behaviour that we might have missed. Or to reprogramme ourselves to form healthier habits," Louw told the Sunday Times.

During the class, participants are offered the two most well-known cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinol, which has mood-altering effects; or cannabidiol (CBD), which has the same medicinal properties without the high.

"Everybody is free to choose their level of consumption. We guide new CannaYogis towards microdosing, often beginning with CBD only. We allow everybody to take a small dose and notice the effects before further consumption," said Louw.

It's not the usual stoner types that have been attending Louw's CannaYoga retreats, which she started with her fiancé, Sam Barton, in February. "They are leaders in their fields, educated and oftentimes educators. The people who attend our retreats are professionals looking to upgrade their approach to health and wellness."

The combination of yoga and pot is a "powerful weapon against the pressures of modern living", Louw said.

"Sam used cannabis to help with his anxiety and pain relief and I used yoga for the same reasons. Once we discovered how beneficial combining the two was, we desperately wanted to share it."

They decided to offer retreats to "educate the emerging market", she said. "Since legalisation [for private use], we have been inundated with questions about risks, benefits and dosing, and realised there was a need and we could help. Most people are consuming far too much or consuming while drinking alcohol and having a negative experience.

"This gives them a false idea of what the plant can do for them. Furthermore, there are a lot of people who haven't smoked for 20 years and are looking to return to the habit now that it's legal. Cannabis has changed a lot since they last consumed and it's really important they are aware of the strength of cannabis now versus then."

She said the Constitutional Court ruling was very clear in stipulating that cannabis can be consumed in a private space.

"It has nothing to do with one's private home. As long as it is not in public, it is considered private. All our events take place in venues that we either own or have full rights to for the duration of the event. As long as no public can enter the event, we are within our legal rights. They are paying an admission fee for the event, class or retreat. We share our personal supply with our attendees, which is our constitutional right. We have the constitutional right to privacy as well as the constitutional right to gather."

Eugene van der Merwe, 47, started smoking weed in his late teens and progressively consumed less as he got older.

But when he attended Louw's glam-camp retreat in the Elgin Valley, he definitely wanted to "use the stuff that got me high".

He said: "For the first part of the sessions, only a few minutes, we'd all go into a deep state of relaxation or meditation.

"Then we'd get going with the most amazing yoga sessions ever ... It's as if your muscles take to the practice more intensely, and your mind is focused but also relaxed at the same time."

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