What Is Yoga?If you’re reading this article, you probably have a fair idea about the nature of yoga. But to the uninitiated, yoga is a practice comprising a number of physical postures that strengthen and bring flexibility to the mind and body. Contrary to what people may think, it’s not about who is the bendiest and can be most like Madonna with their leg behind their ear. Yoga is about the relationship you have with yourself, working with the breath to move your body close to its edge, but never going beyond it.
Many people first come to yoga as a way to combat stress, as it is an effective way to calm down an overstimulated nervous system. For others, it has a deeper significance, not only bringing a sense of calm, but also a cosmic connection to the divine.
There are many types of yoga, some more dynamic than others such as ashtanga or vinyasa flow. Hatha is where most people start, as it’s considered the most classic style. And there is even ganja yoga, where smoking cannabis is incorporated into the class.
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Cannabis and Yoga - An Ancient TraditionWith India being the spiritual home of yoga, it should be no surprise that there is some crossover between the cannabis plant and the ancient yogis living there. Particularly when you consider that cannabis has been used in India since 2000 BCE. In fact, it is suggested that cannabis sativa was the key ingredient in the ritualistic drink, Soma, in the Vedic period around 1700 BCE.
According to the old Hindu poems, so taken was the god Shiva with the calming effects of cannabis, that he brought it down from the Himalayas and gave it to mankind.
In the 19th Century a report for the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission frequently mentions the spiritual significance of Bhang, a milky drink laced with cannabis:
‘The Hindu poet of Shiva, the Great Spirit that living in bhang passes into the drinker, sings of bhang as the clearer of ignorance, the giver of knowledge. No gem or jewel can touch in value bhang taken truly and reverently. He who drinks bhang drinks Shiva. The soul in whom the spirit of bhang finds a home glides into the ocean of Being freed from the weary round of matter-blinded self’.
As well as aiding spiritual enlightenment, Bhang was also seen as having:
‘Many medicinal virtues. It cools the heated blood, soothes the over-wakeful to sleep, gives beauty, and secures length of days. It cures dysentery and sunstroke, clears phlegm, quickens digestion, sharpens appetite, makes the tonic of the lisper plain, freshens the intellect, and gives alertness to the body and gaiety to the mind’. (IHDCR 1894)
Sounds pretty close to the list of health benefits listed by the medical cannabis lobby, right?
CBD and YogaBack in the 19th century when the Hemp Commission report was written, it’s almost certain that the cannabis plants consumed in religious ceremonies would have contained much more CBD than the modern varieties, which are higher in the psychoactive compound THC.
These days, the modern day yogi generally stays well away from anything that alters their state of consciousness while they’re on the yoga mat, and apart from ganja yoga, cannabis consumption is left for outside class.
But what about CBD? Could it be the perfect yogic accompaniment?
Well first, let’s take a look at what effect CBD has on the body. The most important thing is that CBD does not cause a high or stoned feeling, in fact quite the contrary; many people report it brings about a feeling of calm; centeredness. In fact many people take CBD for stress and anxiety, something that has been backed up in scientific studies.
Then there’s the compound’s anti-inflammatory property. Most of us as we get older find our joints losing flexibility and I know when I roll out my yoga mat first thing in the morning, my hip joints don’t feel like they did ten years ago. CBD has been found in scientific studies to reduce inflammation and pain, which is an attractive possibility for anyone with creaking joints or aching muscles.
Then there’s the effect CBD has on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), the vast network of receptors and cannabis-like chemicals (endocannabinoids) that are constantly working to bring about homeostasis or balance to our body and mind. One endocannabinoid is even called anandamide after the sanskrit word for bliss and is partly responsible for the feeling of well-being during intense exercise.
Some even go as far as to assert that the endocannabinoid system and high levels of anandamide are the physiological ‘missing link’ that explains the mystical states or rapture experienced by saints and visionaries over the years.
CBD is thought to strengthen the endocannabinoid system by indirectly increasing the amount of anandamide in the body. It does this by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks anandamide down, increasing what’s known as endocannabinoid tone and thereby helping the ECS to protect us more efficiently from stress. Another reason why CBD, yoga and stress relief go so seamlessly together.
What Do Real Yogis say about CBD?
This is all well and good in theory, but what do real yoga practitioners say about CBD? We spoke to some experienced yoga teachers after they tried out Endoca CBD oil at a yoga conference in Barcelona.
Here’s what they said:
“It’s taking you to a place beyond your physical body, you’re connecting a lot somehow with your emotional body, as we say in yoga. You know, you have this euphoria. You feel quite calm with your inner being. Quite soft and happy. The idea is that it really takes you to your soul, taking you back to your true place.”
- Krishna Taki, Yoga Teacher
“It relaxed me and gave the possibility of my mind to take the right decision. Instantly I felt like it clarified me for a minute. It gave time to myself. It opened me up. It create the space inside me, that’s what I feel CBD did for me.”
- Yoga Teacher
“My eyesight has improved and I feel I can see better. I feel relaxed and at ease with the world.”
- Rebecca Andrist, Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher
So it seems then that CBD is bringing the sacred relationship between cannabis and yoga right up to date and calming our modern day stresses into the bargain. But don’t just take our word for it. Try taking CBD before a yoga session yourself.