"There was more space without the sudden pressing thoughts that might pop up after a heady joint." CBD and Yoga are great compliments. Taking a few drops of CBD oil before you step on your yoga mat can help you get in the right mindset to practice and
This Is What Happened When I Did Yoga on CBD
A 65-year-old woman in a Prius pulls up beside me blasting Enya. Clearly, I’ve arrived at CBD Yoga.
In New York State, the debate over recreational weed is on the table, with gubernatorial hopeful Cynthia Nixon and her running mate Jumaane Williams setting it as a centerpiece of their campaign against incumbent Andrew Cuomo. But so far, stories of “high tea” and “green yoga” are generally relegated to the Left Coast (and more recently, Massachusetts and Maine). New Yorkers, however, are finding a new and ambiguously legal way to enjoy some of the benefits of the cannabis plant.
CBD yoga isn’t a novel concept. The connection between cannabis and yoga can be traced back to the practice’s ancient Indian roots: Cannabis is referred to in the Vedas as one of five sacred plants, and images of the Lord Shiva with his chillum are ubiquitous.
When I walk into Jolie Parcher’s CBD yoga class in Amagansett, NY, a chimney of smoke rises from a hunk of burning sage and a sitar player is seated cross-legged, strumming away. As we settle onto our mats, Parcher explains that CBD oil might make us feel a little more relaxed, allowing calming sensations; it could also alleviate pain in the muscles or joints, allowing us to move with more freedom. Then she instructs us to turn our palms up if we want to receive the oil.
I swish the tincture around in my mouth and swallow, then lie back on a bolster and let the sound of the sitar carry me away. It’s been an intense summer—travel and family and work, work, work. It had been a while since I’d found space on my mat.
My thoughts begin to stretch out, like traffic on a busy road slowly thinning. I begin to linger on the space between the cars. It isn’t necessarily the CBD that’s relaxing me—it’s likely the yoga, a body meditation of sorts. Many who study the effects of CBD, though, argue that it enhances that mind/body connection.
“CBD elevates consciousness and puts you in deeper touch with your body,” says Lou Sagar, founder and CEO of The Alchemist’s Kitchen, a New York City-based company that specializes in herbal remedies. Sounds a little bit like getting high. And as the gentle yoga class unfolds and the distinct flavor of weed lingers on my tongue, I’m not quite sure where the yoga ends and the CBD begins.
Parcher, who’s owned her yoga studio in Amagansett since 2000, is an aromatherapist who regularly brings plant extracts into her teaching. Other oils come out during our practice—Parcher delivers peppermint oil to rub on our bellies and cedar oil to inhale in meditation. The CBD feels not like an outlier, but instead like one of a thoughtfully curated bouquet of oils selected to get us all in the zone.
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That’s the sensibility of the Alchemist’s Kitchen, which grows cannabis plants in Upstate New York strictly for CBD, then extracts oils and makes balms, capsules, and tinctures for healing purposes. CBD (cannabidiol) is derived from cannabis, but it doesn’t have the psychoactive effects of THC, the compound people are usually seeking if they want to get high. “We have a farm in upstate New York which is licensed for hemp and CBD, not THC,” Sagar tells me. “Now the whole plant can be grown with lower levels of THC.”
This is a new direction for growers, who, for many decades, had been breeding cannabis with progressively increasing levels of THC. “For a long time, people wanted lots of THC and dramatic impact,” says Mitch Earleywine, professor of psychology at SUNY Albany and author of the book Understanding Marijuana. “That often happens with the prohibition of any drug. So growers bred the ones that had the most impact and got less and less CBD each generation.”
The only way to legally sell CBD in states like New York—where weed isn’t yet legal—is if it has .03 percent or less THC in it—not nearly enough to get you stoned (a microdose is considered to be about 5 mg THC). Sagar sees it as a non-toxic remedy for some of the most common ills in our society, like chronic pain management and anxiety.
Earlywine tells me that CBD has indeed shown promise in early research as an anti-seizure medication, an anti-inflammatory, and a potential sleep aid. “It also looks like CBD doses can be good for pain in a subset of folks,” he adds.
“Is CBD the silver bullet that’s going to fix everything?” Parcher asks. “No. But it’s a tool.”
In class, we hug our knees into our chests and Parcher encourages us to imagine “creating space” on the inside. I spend long moments moving my thigh bone around in my hip socket, discovering places where I was unknowingly gripping. The inward exploration is both physical and mental. There is space, for me, without the sudden pressing thoughts that might pop up after a heady joint, and none of the twitching to-do list that flips on after a cup of coffee. Just a little more space.
The reason CBD might create a different reaction from THC, my experts tell me, is that the two interact with different receptors in the brain. THC, explains Earleywine, is a partial agonist of the CB1 receptor, which means it binds to that receptor and causes it to fire differently. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t affect that receptor at all. The effects of CBD are outside the brain, in the body, he says.
It’s time for savasana. With each strum of the sitar, I visualize my brain waves. CBD oil, peppermint, and sweet cedar mingle in my body. Parcher lifts my feet and swings them side to side, then props my legs over a bolster. I settle back, into my mat. I feel lifted and grounded at once. Is it the CBD? The yoga? It’s hard to tell. But there’s definitely a shift, and not a trace of paranoia.
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6 Ways CBD Can Improve Your Yoga Practice
CBD and Yoga are great compliments. Taking a few drops of CBD oil before you step on your yoga mat can help you get in the right mindset to practice and meditate. Combining CBD with yoga can help heal sore muscles, reduce inflammation, and give you a boost of energy. This naturally occurring supplement can also improve yoga’s mental aspects by reducing anxiety, regulating emotions, promoting calm, and improving mental focus. In total, we have found six powerful ways how CBD can positively enhance your yoga experience and take your practice to the next level.
The benefits of using CBD with Yoga
CBD won’t get you high, but it can improve your yoga experience. It’s completely safe to use during a yoga practice or any other regular activities. Here are the six main benefits of combining CBD with your yoga practice:
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- Reduces Stress. Cortisol is the stress hormone that causes you to feel stressed and anxious. CBD is a known reliever of stress and anxiety through its effect on the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is the body’s system of maintaining hormonal balance and regulating our physiological responses. By boosting your body’s ability to reduce stress, you can experience even deeper levels of relaxation and calm in your yoga practice. This combined effect will ensure that you are free from worry, stress, or anxiety throughout your whole day.
- Increases Focus. In a study conducted in 2014 and published in the Current Neuropharmacology, CBD was found to be a wake-promoting agent. This means that it keeps your mind active so that you don’t lose focus on what you are doing. Similarly, Yoga helps you take control of your mind so that you are not distracted by the events happening around you.
- Relieves Pain and Soreness. If you engage in rigorous or challenging yoga routines, you will likely suffer from some degree of musculoskeletal pain and inflammation after your practice. In a study conducted in 2018 on CBD’s effectiveness in reducing pain and inflammation, it was affirmed that adding CBD into a yoga routine is effective in alleviating pain and managing soreness.
- Better Rest. If you’re feeling exhausted and you need to unwind, a combination of the CBD and yoga is your best option. CBD works on your endocannabinoid receptors, allowing you to elicit responses to your physical, emotional, or mental state. If you combine that with a relaxing yoga session, your body feels calm and rested.
The Best Supplements for Yogis
Different nutritional supplements can help with post-yoga recovery by reducing inflammation and increasing circulation to sore muscles and achy joints. Other supplements for yoga can help boost energy, enhance muscle health, calm the mind, and increase focus and concentration.
Who shouldn’t use CBD during Yoga?
There are no studies to show the negative effects of using CBD with yoga. However, it is advisable to avoid using CBD with yoga if you are:
- Pregnant or trying to conceive
- Taking prescription drugs
How to use CBD with Yoga
There are several different ways to consume CBD products. You can apply a CBD salve or lotion to any parts of the body that tend to be stiff or sore. You can also ingest CBD through tinctures, soft gels, herbal teas, or tasty gummies. It is recommended to start with a 10-15mg dose of CBD or 1-6 mg of CBD per 10 lbs of body weight and slowly increase the dosage if needed. Tinctures begin acting as fast as 15 minutes, and softgels take effect around 35 minutes on average. The salves can be used before or after yoga or just before bed. Establishing a regular regimen of using CBC products with yoga will yield the best results.
To sum up
CBD is an incredible supplement for helping you relax. Sometimes, you may have trouble clearing the racing thoughts in your mind before a yoga session. In such a situation, CBD can help you clear your head so that you are ready to go deep in your yoga practice. After your yoga session, CBD can also help you to recover faster from the tightness, inflammation, or soreness that may have occurred during the yoga-process. Combining CBD with yoga is a simple and easy way to boost the amazing feel-good effects of your yoga practice. If you’re interested in CBD but are overwhelmed by the number of brands and options, check out this list of medically reviewed oils to find the best one for your yoga practice.
About Laura Powell
Laura Powell was introduced to yoga at the PranaVida Yoga Studio in Orlando, FL, in 2001 and has been studying yoga ever since. She began her study with Ravi Singh and, after trying many teachers and styles in the yoga cornucopia that is New York City, gravitated to the classes of Sharon Gannon and David Life of Jivamukti whom she considers to be her primary influences. Inspired by her students and yoga masters B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar, Gary Kraftsow, Godfrey Devereaux, and Donna Farhi, she emphasizes safety and proper alignment, building awareness of the body so that time, effort and the breath can bring about the many potential benefits of yoga. Laura is committed to her self-study and daily yoga practice, along with attending regular workshops with Kofi Busia and other senior teachers.