CBD is one of 2020’s hottest trends. And it could transform your yoga routine. Learn how you can use CBD to improve your practice. "There was more space without the sudden pressing thoughts that might pop up after a heady joint." Why CBD With Yoga Might be the Best Idea Ever This trendy new supplement won’t get you high, but it will take your yoga practice to an entirely new level of chill. So many of us experience (at
CBD and Yoga: Rediscover the Benefits of This Ancient Duo
CBD is one of this year’s hottest trends. And it could transform your yoga routine — for reasons you’ll soon understand.
CBD and yoga — it’s a surprisingly age-old combination that’s just now making a comeback.
The first time around, news of the practice spread by word of mouth through ascetics and yogis, and their sacred texts like The Vedas and the Yoga Sutra.
This time, however, CBD-fueled yoga has the full backing of social media, google trends, and a veritable army of health enthusiasts. It seems they might be onto something.
Though the practice of yoga is nearly as old as society itself, the biological basis of the practice has remained pretty much unchanged. Yoga still promotes inner awareness, just as it did back then. But with modern scientific advancements, we’ve since discovered other tangible benefits yoga has to offer the body.
One such area of benefit overlaps with the effects of CBD and the system it works through — called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
When you stop to think about it, there’s a lot of overlap between the effects of CBD and yoga — which makes the two a perfect pair.
Table of Contents
Below are just a few more of the ways that CBD could benefit yogis of all levels:
- Better adaptation
- Improved mind-body connection
- Increased focus
- Reduced inflammation
- Enhanced inner awareness
- Faster muscle recovery
Yoga Adaptation Using CBD
While the practice of yoga teaches us to say no! to external distractions and demands — yogic exercises themselves can be physically demanding. They put a strain on tendons and ligaments, especially if done incorrectly.
Even the gentlest transition into yoga requires the body to respond with increased flexibility, fluidity, and suppleness. Yoga also requires good balance, which in turn demands strong proprioception (awareness of body positioning).
Then there’s the stretching inherent to yoga, of course… which can be intense as well. It seems mentally transcending one’s environment may require a dose of physical transcendence too!
Yet stretching has actually been shown to activate endocannabinoid receptors in the muscles and fascia. More receptor activation may allow for more cannabinoid engagement .
We’ve covered the benefits of CBD for muscle recovery in another article, here’s a summary of the benefits:
- Relaxes the muscle tissue
- May relieve muscle pain
- Curbs inflammation in the muscle tissue
- Enhances satellite cell differentiation (leading to faster recovery)
- Supports protein synthesis through cortisol reduction
Improve The Mind-Body Connection
CBD may allow you to better adapt to yoga by improving the mind-body connection, too.
After all, CBD strengthens what researchers call “a literal bridge between body and mind”.
Although the idea that CBD can better bridge the gap between consciousness and movement may seem more mystical than scientific — there’s some truth to the statement.
One study conducted by the Intercontinental Neuroscience Research Group theorized that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has a role in human consciousness itself. This is evidenced by the involvement of the ECS in abstract cognitive processes like post-traumatic stress, mood, and dream states .
Such is the depth of endocannabinoid function — even the world’s leading researchers sometimes describe it with broad concepts like consciousness and emotional fluidity.
Part of the mind-body connection goes back to one of the central tenets of yoga — clearing the mind. A study from way back in 1979 agrees: “Hatha yoga calms the mind to the point that the individual is aware only of the ‘here and now’ […which] includes an awareness of subtle bodily conditions.” 
CBD may play an equally important role in this area. Many users report feeling more focused and intuitive when they take the plant compound.
Perhaps best of all, it doesn’t usually take much CBD to see enhancements in focus and mood. Dr. Dustin Sulak and many other cannabinoid experts have reported that their patients improve on just a few milligrams of cannabinoids per day!
That equates to about half a dropper’s worth of your average CBD oil.
From a homeopathic perspective, it’s thought that “microdosing” herbal compounds stimulate much larger changes in our physiology. That definitely seems to be the case with the nootropic-like CBD.
Enhance Focus & Concentration
Of course, yoga isn’t just about becoming more in tune with your body. That’s only half the equation because enhancing your inner awareness depends on the silencing of external distractions and falsehoods.
In a very real sense, yoga requires its practitioners to fully reclaim their minds. Today’s phone bill, tomorrow’s work deadline? Forget them, become free from them — if only for the next 10 minutes.
But this type of forgetfulness is harder than ever. It seems as though all of us have fallen into the gravitational pull of Social Media, a planet on which narcissism and hyperstimulation are the norms. A pull that was once confined to one or two hours a day (just think about the once-daily daily news) now has us in its grasp at all times.
Indeed, the average American checks their phone nearly a hundred times a day; if forced to go without the device they often experience anxiety, unrest, and other “drug-seeking” behavior.
It’s not crazy to think about this as a real addiction, “withdrawal” from which may negatively impact all sorts of other things. That includes our ability to focus at work, nourish real relationships… and clear the mind during yoga.
Here’s another seemingly cryptic concept — could CBD help our culture better live in the now? Maybe shift our brain chemistry, even, so we can focus more on the present moment?
Initial research has shown this cannabidiol is intimately involved with the function of key neurotransmitters like serotonin  and dopamine  — both of which play a key role in our ability to remain focused. This could explain why some users report CBD can improve learning and concentration.
Cannabis experts are also backing this idea up. Molecular biologist Dr. Bob Melamede says cannabinoids expand the periodicity of each moment — that’s the amount of perceptual ‘snapshots’ our brains can process in any given unit of time.
More frequent snapshots mean each moment lasts longer, from a relative perspective. If a person can take in more of their life, might each of its moments be more greatly enjoyed?
Once again, cryptic… but theorized by one of the brightest minds in the endocannabinoid-research world. If you’re ready to slow down, fully experience life, and enjoy each and every moment, consider yoga! If you find combating daily distraction challenging and would like a little help with your yogic practice, consider CBD!
Reduce Inflammation with CBD
Inflammation… we all know how bad it is, how we’re all chronically inflamed, and how that’s not good for our general health or our pain levels, etc. It’s an epidemic!
Actually, it’s not that simple.
A little bit of inflammation is a good thing. Especially when it’s used to signal to the immune system that a little extra assistance is needed. Inflammation initiates a cascade of hormonal responses that, when everything works properly, allows inflamed areas to properly recover and heal.
Inflammation, like anything else the body does naturally, can be a beautiful thing.
Yet our culture’s inflammatory epidemic is anything but natural. Inflammation is meant to help us rebound after occasional injuries — not act as a buffer against the health risks of processed foods.
Worse yet, many people combat this unnatural state with unnaturally strong solutions like NSAIDS or even opioids. Not good!
That’s true from an evolutionary perspective, at least. The mismatch between our body’s natural state and its unnatural environment requires a holistic solution. Thankfully, practicing yoga has been shown to lower levels of chronic inflammation , especially if done regularly.
As Harvard’s health blog reports: “an exploratory study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity [found] that 12 weeks of yoga slowed cellular aging”. Faster cellular aging is believed to be a consequence of chronic inflammation — as reported but the National Institute of Ageing.
Another insightful study titled Yoga, Meditation and Mind-Body Health found yoga correlated with improved brain function (it increased something called brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and better morning mood . Subjects also seemed to deal with the daily stressors of their lives better, as revealed by lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol.
Finally, yoga also reduced the subject’s inflammatory markers, like their cytokine levels, that are known to lead to pain. No wonder Yogis can truthfully claim the following:
“Yoga is the process of eliminating pain – pain from the body, mind and the society.”
But if you’re experiencing a level of inflammation or pain that dissuades you from practicing yoga in the first place, your body might need a little extra help. That’s where CBD comes in.
CBD is a broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory. It’s been shown again and again and again to reduce inflammation in areas where relief is needed most:
Yet CBD doesn’t eliminate inflammation entirely. Like we said, inflammatory responses are helpful — for muscle recovery, injury prevention, even for yoga itself.
In the short term, inflammation speeds healing by removing metabolic waste and bringing fresh, nutrient-rich blood flow to the area. It’s only when the inflammatory process continues for extended periods of time that it starts to have a negative impact on local tissue.
Enhance Body Perception
Many people love yoga for its ability to support the perception of the body.
But we’ve already touched on that, so let’s now turn our attention to CBD and how it could enhance self-awareness further. You’ll find some theoretical stuff in this section, which we feel is warranted.
You might already know that exercise boosts our body’s levels of endocannabinoids like anandamide — which is thought to contribute to sensations like the “runner’s high”  and plays a key role in the mood-regulating benefits of the endocannabinoid system .
CBD has been shown to increase anandamide levels by inhibiting the enzyme designed to break it down — known commonly as FAAH .
The effects of CBD on mood go much deeper as well. This phytocannabinoid is also considered an endovanilloid, modulating the vanilloid receptors throughout the body [8,9].
The role of this system is pretty abstract, but what does this mean in terms of perception in the body?
The vanilloid receptors sense pain, regulate body temperature  — two critical elements of the human experience. Our body uses pain to assess the risk to the body — it tells us when we’re at risk of damaging our joints or muscles from overstretching or positioning ourselves poorly during our yoga practice. Temperature is also important, as it plays a role in our metabolic rate and critical aspects of homeostasis (internal balance).
In theory, applying said topical to potential ‘problem areas’ prior to your next yoga session could be helpful for improving your body’s perception to internal changes in the muscle tissue. Oral CBD may provide similar benefits as well.
Improving health is often the ideal goal of a daily yoga practice. Whether you’re a yoga beginner or a true master of the ancient art, taking CBD may help you take your practice to another level.
CBD isn’t a cure-all, and there are a lot of other factors you need to employ to really get the most out of your yoga practice as well — but it could be a useful tool for helping you get just a little more out of a dialed-in practice.
The effects of CBD are many, but the most relevant when it comes to yoga include enhancing the mind-body connection through the ECS, improved yoga adaptation through local activation of the ECS in muscle tissue, reduced inflammation, and enhanced focus and concentration during your practice.
Have you incorporated CBD with your yoga practice? Share your experiences in the comments below.
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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Why CBD With Yoga Might be the Best Idea Ever
This trendy new supplement won’t get you high, but it will take your yoga practice to an entirely new level of chill.
So many of us experience (at minimum) a steady hum of low-grade anxiety as we move about our days. And who could blame us? Our schedules are jam-packed, we’re chasing career goals, tending to our personal relationships, juggling finances, and (if we’re lucky) squeezing in a little time to pursue our hobbies and passions.
These ever-constant feelings of anxiety not only hinder our productivity, they steal our pure, unfiltered, in-the-moment joy. It can be a challenging beast to tame, which is why so many people have been turning to a yoga practice as a way to calm down, go inward, and let go. All eight limbs of yoga, specifically asana and meditation, not only soothe in the short-term, but they also teach practitioners skills for checking in rather than checking out, and addressing anxiety with a calm bravery.
But yoga isn’t the only tool in our coping tool belts. With the increasing legalization of marijuana and hemp-derived products across the country, the stressed-out among us are exploring new ways to cope with anxiety. If the word “cannabis” brings to mind terrible-tasting brownies, it’s time to take another look at a now-booming industry. Although bakeries are now whipping up marijuana-infused cookies, gummies, drinks, and even baklava, there are also companies working to spread the gospel of hemp-related products without the high.
It all comes down to CBD, a cannabinoid compound found in the cannabis plant. Although CBD shares some similarities with THC, hemp’s better-known cannabinoid, there is one big difference: CBD has no psychoactive effects and won’t get you high. What CBD does deliver on, however, is a calming, gently relaxing vibe that has truly been known to make a difference in anxiety sufferers.
Bringing CBD Onto the Mat
If the words “calming and gently relaxing” are sounding a lot like your favorite yoga practice, that’s no coincidence—as many yogis are discovering, CBD products and asana practice go together like bolsters and yoga blankets: Two great ideas that are wonderful alone, but totally dynamite together. Because using CBD won’t get you high, it’s entirely safe and acceptable to use during a yoga practice or any other regular activities. Benefits of using CBD include:
- Pain relief
- Relief from anxiety and depression
- Relief from overthinking
- Decreased inflammation
- Increased mood
CBD is a natural fit for a restorative-style or gentle yoga class, but it can also enhance your experience in a more upbeat, quicker-paced flow-style or vinyasa class, especially if you’re prone to a wandering mind. How often have you been in a yoga class and thought, “I am supposed to be zen! I just wish I could silence these thoughts!” It’s hard to automatically turn off your overthinking brain simply because you’ve hit the mat. CBD helps.
It can also aid those with sore joints and muscles. Here’s how: The different cannabinoids in hemp, such as CBD, work in different ways with the cannabinoid receptors in the body, located throughout the endocannabinoid system. This is the same system that triggers your brain when you’re experiencing pain. When taking CBD, it interacts with the ECS and encourages it to produce an increased number of natural cannabinoids, which help to balance the system and produce an anti-inflammatory response. Therefore, helping to relieve those post-asana sore muscles.
CBD can also help to prolong the savasana feelings of bliss after you leave the mat. When we are feeling good, our brain naturally produces and releases a neurotransmitter called Anandamide. In Sanskrit, ‘Ananda’ means ‘bliss’, which is why Anandamide is aptly named the ‘bliss molecule’. Like all neurotransmitters, Anandamide is fragile and breaks down quickly in the body, which is why it doesn’t produce a perpetual state of bliss. It’s been found that CBD suppresses the enzyme that breaks down Anandamide. Thus creating longer lasting effects from the naturally occurring Anandamide in our system. In other words, that blissful feeling you get from your flow session can be enhanced even more by incorporating CBD into the mix.
(As a yogi and author of this piece, I found using CBD to be particularly great during my home practice. While I’m usually distracted by my cell phone, to-do list, and passing thoughts, my home asana routine has become a lot more focused and intuitive when taking CBD.)
How to Get Started
To nip any assumptions in the bud (had to!)—no, it doesn’t need to be smoked. CBD products can be applied to the body as a salve or ingested via tinctures or soft gels. Dana Boyce of Ananda Hemp suggests starting with a 10-15mg dose and increasing with comfort level and familiarity.
So which one is right for you? As a general rule, tinctures begin acting faster than softgels—about 15 minutes, on average. They have a mild hemp flavor that fans describe as earthy. If you’re looking to minimize taste, softgels might be a better fit, although you’ll want to note the difference in acting time: they take a little longer to reach the system, around 35 minutes on average. T he salves can be a beautiful part of a self-care routine, and are particularly nice when applied after a shower, before or after yoga, or just before bed.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that CBD isn’t a miracle “cure” for anxiety. (And BTW — neither is yoga!) As Ananda’s Boyce explains, “I always tell customers to not go in with expectations. Take the product consistently for a week and see if you feel any different.”
Consistency is key here; sporadically taking CBD when you feel like it, or remember, won’t yield the beneficial results of a regular regimen. (Again, noticing any parallels with your yoga practice?)
Have you tried CBD products with your yoga practice? What did you think?
In partnership with Ananda Hemp
Ananda Hemp offers information on how to incorporate hemp extract into your daily practice. Ananda Hemp believes that Mother Nature is the best architect for health and wellness. Their full spectrum products are derived from Kentucky-grown and produced medicinal hemp. Ananda Hemp strives to cultivate a sustainable crop that produces solvent and pesticide-free whole flower extract that complements your ongoing journey to wellness.