In this busy, stressful world, a yoga practice takes you away for quiet moments, allow you to turn inward and remind you to breathe. You might enhance your practice with accessories — a mat, blocks to support you, cushions to ease strain, soft straps to extend a stretch. But what about adding cannabis or CBD to your yoga practice?
Cannabis has been used for centuries in spiritual and ritual practices. A concoction called Bhang — a mix of cannabis, milk and spices — was consumed as part of Hindu tradition and is still consumed by yogis today. Cannabis is said to be one of the five sacred plants referenced in the Vedas, ancient Hindu texts. Note that while Ayurvedic teachings accept cannabis as medicine, the recreational use of the plant is not encouraged.
If you’ve never tried cannabis with yoga — a practice often referred to as “Ganja Yoga” — you may want to start with a non-intoxicating cannabis compound as opposed to a mind-altering one. The main chemical compounds in cannabis are called cannabinoids, and they interact with receptors in your body to promote a variety of effects, some of which could prove beneficial to your yoga practice when consumed in moderation.
You may be familiar with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), an active ingredient in the cannabis plant that produces a euphoric sensation and can alter your brain’s perception — that feeling of being “high.” A cannabinoid in cannabis that is not mind-altering is CBD (cannabidiol). CBD can provide subtle relaxation without the “high,” making it a suitable starting point for introducing plant medicine into your yoga practice.
According to reports from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, part of the National Institutes of Health, CBD can be effective in several ways:
- As an anxiolytic: for anti-anxiety
- To reduce inflammation: both topically and systemically
- To reduce pain
- As a neuroprotective antioxidant
Before adding cannabis or CBD to your yoga practice, make sure you consult with a physician who is well versed in cannabis medicine. Most states where cannabis is legal provide lists online of medical providers. While cannabis is not legal everywhere, with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD derived from the industrial hemp plant will be. Under the new law, the Department of Agriculture will manage hemp as a crop rather than it being treated as an illegal substance by the Justice Department.
If you are in a place where CBD is legal and you want to incorporate it into your practice, ingesting a CBD-infused edible or oil-based tincture might be a more comfortable introduction of the beneficial elements of the cannabis plant than smoking, vaping or otherwise inhaling. A CBD gummy or a dose of CBD oil under the tongue can ease aches and pains and promote healing over time.
Follow the common advice of “start low and go slow.” If your body isn’t used to higher doses of the compound, it could cause unpleasant — but not dangerous — side effects such as diarrhea. Unlike THC that provides effects that are felt relatively quickly — within a few seconds, minutes or hours after consuming — CBD takes time and regular use to begin to realize the full benefits.
Follow the common advice of “start low and go slow.”
Consuming cannabis or CBD to enhance your practice is a personal choice that requires research on your part and is best addressed with the guidance of a professional. Be mindful of why you’d like to add plant medicine to your practice. Approaching CBD for relaxation, calming and healing is a good place to start.
Aliza Sherman is author of the book (Ten Speed, June 2019). She is also CEO of Ellementa, a global cannabis wellness network connecting women to trusted cannabis experts and trusted brands with quality products for health and wellness. She is not a medical doctor and this article is in no way a medical recommendation.