The budding list of ample health and medical benefits found within the CBD compound has been shaking up a worldwide curiosity in recent years – and for good reason. The properties found within this natural, plant-derived medicine offer a solution to some of the modern societies’ most common aches and pains.
Similarly, the practise of yoga has become a tool – approached with much enthusiasm by westerners and easterners alike – in developing strength and balance in the body, as well as peace and tranquility in the mind. As both works alongside our body’s natural endocannabinoid system, the use of CBD with yoga could be thought of as a natural advantage. Think of the partnership between honey on top of greek yoghurt or ketchup with your fries.
CBD is different from other cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) because it does not contain a psychoactive effect or euphoric feeling. The effects are more aligned with balancing the body’s natural chemicals (endocannabinoid system). However, it is important to learn the facts on how we can use CBD with yoga most effectively before consuming.
How CBD Could Benefit Yoga
Studies have shown that the stretching and flexing amplified by certain postures within a yoga practise, can activate the endocannabinoid receptors in the muscle tissue. CBD, astoundingly, works in a comparable way. The endocannabinoid system is a connected and intertwined series of cells, which flow throughout the body. Working much like neurotransmitters, these cells attach themselves to cannabinoid receptors. CBD works by enabling increased reproduction of these cells (named CB1 and CB2).
On a physical level, activation of the endocannabinoid system through stretching throughout a yoga practise has a number of benefits, such as:
- Reducing inflammation in the muscle tissue
- Supporting protein synthesis by reducing the stress hormone ‘cortisol’
- Reducing muscle pain (by relaxing the tissue)
- Aids an overall faster recovery
Yoga can put a physical demand on tendons and ligaments. Transitioning between postures, as well as the various poses themselves asks the body to bend with increased flexibility and suppleness. If you’re new to the practise, or stretching before or after sports in an alien concept to you, this requirement of your muscles can feel intense – especially if performed incorrectly, or not handled with care. Yoga also represents balance and an increased awareness of body positioning – which also requires increased strength of muscle tissue.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD can be used as part of a holistic remedy for exercise and muscle recovery. Tinctures, sprays, and capsules can be taken orally as part of your supplement routine, however, studies have shown applying a topical CBD lotion directly to muscles and joints can help to accelerate the soothing of tightness in the body.
The Mind-Body Connection Between Yoga and CBD
We’ve recognised the physical connection between CBD and yoga, but what about the mind? Yoga is a practise centred around energy. Two parts of this philosophy and concept are breathwork (pranayama) and a series of postures (asana).
Traditionally, yoga is a physical practise used to prepare the body for meditation. The idea behind the exercise is to clean the body of toxins built up in our tissues – often caused by stress-related hormones being released into the bloodstream. As we practise yoga more regularly, the goal is to quiet the mind whilst moving through the postures and focussing, or bringing awareness, to how the movement feels in the body.
Yoga highlights the link between our minds and our bodies, encompassing the theory that a rigid, tightened body is linked to more rigid ways of thinking. Fluidity in the body represents more fluid ways of thinking (surrendering, trusting, and letting go more easily).
By stretching and increasing flexibility, whilst creating a time, place, and space to bring energy back to ourselves, we are also promoting calm, openness in the mind. Therefore yoga encourages a more mindful approach to life, both on and off the mat.
Studies have shown CBD can be a useful aid for mental health-related issues, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. CBD works for treating anxiety, much in the same way it does for muscle-relaxing. The CBD compounds bind to endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, soothing and calming ‘inflamed’ levels of stress and anxiety. CBD has also been linked to increased levels of dopamine, which naturally supports sleep, a healthy appetite, and works to combat levels of cortisol – the body’s natural high-alert response.
More Benefits of CBD with Yoga
CBD has been shown to relieve symptoms of ADHD, by improving focus and memory – which has links to overall mental wellbeing. We live in a world of constant distractions, and being more present in our day to day lives is becoming increasingly challenging and sought after.
Both yoga and CBD offer themselves as solutions to help ignite awareness of the present moment. As notifications are often pulling our minds and our bodies in different directions – CBD can also provide yogis with a remedy for clarity and concentration.
Chronic stress is also linked to cognitive and emotional dysregulation, which contributes to the deterioration of overall mental health. Neuroinflammation is caused when the body experiences chronic stress for extended periods of time. CBD can help to reduce neuroinflammation – which can ultimately allow for more simplicity, quietness, and lightness of the mind. All of which are at the centre of yoga practise.
Can CBD Deepen Your Practice?
In the Vedas (ancient Hindu texts describing the origins of yoga), cannabis and yoga are very closely linked. The sacred plant was thought to promote joy and compassion – a gift from the gods to help free humans from everyday stresses and anxieties.
The benefits of using CBD and yoga together feel as much of a good combination as salt & pepper, peanut butter & jelly, or Starsky & Hutch. Both helping to bring balance to the mind and body, by soothing and calming aches, pains, and reducing toxins in the bloodstream.
If you’re curious to try the combination of CBD with yoga, we recommend starting with a smaller dosage of 1-2 drops of CBD oil tincture, or one CBD capsule before you start your yoga practise at home. You can always build up and experiment with different dosage measures later.
When purchasing a CBD product, it’s important to be aware that not all are created in the same way. Due to the variation of laws and legislations in different parts of the world, the industry is known for misguidance and poor quality products. Always question and research thoroughly when considering which brand to buy from.
Medical studies of CBD on humans are somewhat early on in this area. However, based on a developing body of animal and anecdotal studies – we will likely see increased validation of CBD’s medical efficiency as research continues. For now, consider CBD as a powerful antioxidant – best used as part of a holistic routine, encompassing a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep pattern. If you have other health issues and are considering trying CBD with yoga, we always recommend checking in with your doctor first.