"There was more space without the sudden pressing thoughts that might pop up after a heady joint." Everyone has stress, but it can be managed, especially with the use of CBD. Find out how CBD and yoga can be used together to enhance the probability of reducing stress. If you have struggled with a meditation practice due to anxiety, restlessness, or pain, then CBD can be a great help. If you felt unsure or intimidated about using hemp oils, this guide will provide an overview of what CBD is and how to use it for mindfulness practices.
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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Enhancing the Effects of Yoga with CBD
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that within the U.S., anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness, and they affect 40 million individuals 18 years old and older each year. That’s 18.1% of the U.S. population.
Many individuals experience stress in some form throughout the day. They:
- Have jam-packed schedules
- Have to juggle expenses
- Have to work hard to grow their careers
- Have to maintain their social and personal life
Experiencing stress doesn’t just degrade your productivity, but it can cause you to feel weighed down, a feeling you carry with you throughout your day, negatively affecting your health and wellness. And, it can be hard to lessen this stress. Perhaps this is why so many individuals turn to wellness practices, such as mindful meditation and yoga, to calm themselves and reconnect with their bodies.
However, it’s not just yoga that can help you cope with your daily life. Many individuals also use CBD for anxiety and stress. And, when you pair CBD with yoga, it can help reduce stress even further, and improve your emotional well-being.
CBD and Yoga
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that comes from the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant refers to both marijuana and hemp.
All hemp-derived CBD became federally legalized per the 2018 Farm Bill. But, this isn’t the case with marijuana-derived CBD products.
Cannabis’s natural compounds (mainly CBD) can improve your general well-being, and contribute to better yoga practice.
If you’re familiar with the wellness and health potential of CBD, it might not surprise you to learn that your Endocannabinoid System (ECS) directly influences your regulatory functions that respond to yoga. And, CBD directly influences your ECS regulatory system.
Yogis like CBD due to its potential in enhancing and supporting the various benefits of yoga.
It’s thought that when you combine CBD and yoga, they work together in harmony. In fact, not only do they complement one another, but they also appear to enhance each other’s properties, and provide you with relief from pain, stress, anxiety, and other symptoms of different types of conditions. This is why many individuals are participating in CBD yoga classes.
What are CBD Yoga Classes?
CBD yoga classes typically start with each individual taking some CBD infused oil drops and initiating meditation for several minutes. The CBD works by stimulating your mind, putting you in the proper mindset for yoga. Then, the yoga instructors guide the calls through different postures and poses to explore the sensitivity and motion of the body.
CBD yoga classes are often less physically intensive and more laid back yoga regiments like Bikram yoga, for instance. CBD yoga isn’t necessarily targeted to physical fitness, but mental and physical unity. You focus strongly on relaxation and becoming attuned to your body’s:
Classes usually end with more CBD-infused oil dosing, or using CBD lotions and salves to soothe strained muscles.
Benefits of CBD and Yoga
CBD is a natural fit for gentle or restorative-style yoga class. It’s only natural to incorporate CBD into a yoga regimen since it can:
- Improve vitality
- Help with entire body discomfort
- Increases mood
- Reduces normal inflammation
Since meditation is an essential part of yoga, CBD could help slow the racing thoughts in your head down, and allow you to experience calmer vibes.
In some cases, it could take you over 30 minutes before you begin feeling focused enough to enjoy the yoga class. This time can be crucial in a one-hour class. CBD could help create a yoga-ready mind, helping you to let go of stress, and clear your head, so you’ll be ready to flow quicker.
- Helps With Yoga Postures and Poses
It’s well-known CBD is an efficient anti-inflammatory agent. It interacts with your body’s immune system’s T-cells to decrease lymphocytes production. Lymphocytes are the things that cause redness and swelling around the injury site. Likewise, yoga’s physical exercise helps work out your body’s kinks, and reduce pain. Therefore, CBD can reduce pain, making it simpler to strike poses and postures in yoga.
Yoga is usually a relaxing way of exercising, but it can be hard work. You engage in a lot of planks, pushups and other muscle strengthening moves in a one-hour vinyasa class.Using CBD after a hard class can help you recover quicker by reducing soreness, fighting inflammation and soothing the tightness in your muscles.
CBD for sleep might help you get a better night’s sleep after your yoga class, which is important for muscle recovery. Or if you’re having difficulty sleeping at night because of a sleep disorder, cannabidiol and sleep disorders treatment combined with yoga can help provide you with a restful night.
Yoga and CBD-Infused Pillows
To enhance the effects of your yoga class, you could bring along a CBD pillow, which is a pillow infused with microcapsules of CBD that break from the friction of your skin and hair, and release microdoses of CBD into your body. CBD-infused pillows can help you relax, feel calm, ease anxiety or stress, ease pain, and perhaps most importantly, can help you to sleep better than you ever have.
CBD and Meditation—Can It Enhance Your Practice?
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been a somewhat controversial wellness product for the last few years, especially when used for meditation. As CBD oil and hemp oils enter wider usage, it turns out there are a lot of benefits to using these supplements to enhance meditation. If you have struggled or have been unsuccessful in establishing a meditation practice due to anxiety, restlessness, or pain, then CBD might be a great help. If you felt unsure or intimidated about using hemp oils, this guide will provide an overview of what CBD is and how to use it for mindfulness practices.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD is one of the 113 potentially beneficial compounds found in the hemp plant. When people think about using hemp or CBD oil, they often get confused about marijuana, and it’s THC compound that gets you high. CBD oils do not have the same negative side effects of THC, such as hyperactivity, spatial and verbal impairment, short term memory loss, and paranoia.
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It’s understandable if you’re a bit hesitant to try CBD oil, but know that it is something completely different than THC. Rather than running the risk of leaving you paranoid and anxious, CBD oil can be very supportive for meditation due to its mind-body balancing and stress-relieving effects.
Can You Get High On Hemp Oil?
CBD is non-intoxicating, yet there are some kinds of hemp oil which do have a small amount of THC. Hemp oil, by federal regulation standards, are required to have no more than 0.3% THC. Hemp oil is either found in isolate, full, or broad-spectrum extracts. Full-spectrum means that all of the plant compounds are preserved in the final product, and this means there is likely to be a small amount of THC. If you are extremely sensitive, you want to use a broad-spectrum or isolate, which has absolutely no THC at all.
Why Should You Use CBD Oil For Meditation?
We understand and support the argument that students should avoid “external substances” to help them meditate. Yes, the use of CBD can be seen as a crutch, but there are many positive reasons to use hemp oil for your meditation. Many of these benefits are similar to using CBD for Yoga, but there are also specific benefits related to meditation. CBD works slowly with your endocannabinoid system, and it may take several weeks or months to notice the benefits. The top four benefits include:
Increased ability to concentrate. This is important, especially when you’re beginning your practice and when you wish to extend your meditation practice time. CBD oil has been shown to improve concentration, focus, and attention. This, in turn, allows your mind to resist random thoughts and allows you to sit for longer periods with less distraction.
How To Use CBD Oil For Meditation
There are a few ways to incorporate hemp oil into your meditation. You may feel the calming and focusing effects right away, or it could take 15-60 minutes, so plan your dosage based on your response. There are three main ways to take CBD:
- Taking CBD orally before practice. Put a dropper full (or other recommended amount) of a CBD tincture under your tongue for 60 seconds before swallowing. CBD oil tincture manufacturer CBDfx recommends to start with a small amount (1/4 to a full dropper) and gradually increase until you find your perfect serving.
- Add Hemp oil to your morning smoothie or add it to some tea. If used in tea, you can sip it slowly during your yoga practice, and when you’re ready to meditate, your body will be relaxed and ready.
- Adding oil to your skincare. Adding hemp oil to your favorite hand cream and then applying it to your hands, neck, and chest before you start can help you in your meditation. You can add the oils to your favorite creams yourself or choose hemp-infused products. Make sure you test new skin products on small patches of skin and wait 12 hours for any allergic reaction.
About Christine Heilbron
Christine has been teaching and practicing yoga, meditation, and mindfulness for over ten years. She has explored many different styles of yoga under local and international teachers. She is a graduate of a 200-hour yoga teacher training program and is certified to teach vinyasa, Hatha, and restorative styles of yoga and has additional training in trauma sensitivity.