The Modern Use of CBD
Over the past few decades, yoga and the use of cannabidiol (CBD) have become two leading practices in American home physical therapy and health supplementation. While this is a fairly recent phenomenon in Western countries, you might be surprised to know how far back it goes in Central Asia, where the two have been used in combination for centuries.
In India, cannabinoids and yoga share a long-running connection in the pursuit of health and wellness. Practitioners, yogis and ascetics alike use them complementarily on a regular basis today. The natural synergy between the two is acknowledged even in ancient religious Indian texts.
Let’s examine the most important ways CBD can enhance the yoga experience for practitioners of all levels, starting with a brief overview of the role and functions of CBD in the body.
How Does CBD Work?
All of CBD’s documented effects are the result of its interaction with the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS). This system is named because it was discovered during the study of cannabinoids’ effects on the brain. The ECS is a network of receptors found throughout the body that influence the production and uptake of hormones and neurotransmitters. By acting as a modulatory influence on the ECS, CBD can ameliorate symptoms of anxiety and mood disorders by regulating serotonin or dopamine imbalances in patients.
CBD’s positive interaction with the ECS is how CBD drops with higher than average potency have been used to calm the seizures of children with Dravet syndrome. It’s also why Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps and world famous performers like Katy Perry credit CBD as a staple of their health supplement regimens.
It’s worth noting that the stretching in various yoga poses or asanas naturally activates and heightens the sensitivity of ECS receptors found in muscle fibers and fascia. This naturally improves the effective bioavailability of CBD by priming the body’s ability at cannabinoid absorption.
Increased Focus and Concentration
Yoga helps a person develop both self-awareness, and mind-muscle connections. This is true for anyone; from novices learning their first sets of poses to teachers. Luckily according to researchers, CBD does plenty to nurture the bond between mind and body.
Of course, this doesn’t mean a simple dose of CBD will have a beginner sliding comfortably into a perfect Hanumanasana in his or her first session. But in the same way CBD’s effect on the ECS positively influences cognitive processes associated with depression, anxiety, insomnia and even post-traumatic stress disorder, CBD has been shown to enhance focus and concentration — making it a very good health supplement for improving one’s yoga experience.
Enhanced Muscle Recovery for Beginners
CBD’s analgesic and spasmolytic properties are invaluable in aiding new practitioners in their first few weeks of experimentation. A simple plow pose, for example, can create significant pressure and pain in the upper back, trapezius and neck muscles when performed incorrectly. In most cases, this pain is at its worst in the hours or days following the yoga session.
Supplementing with CBD can not only help to relieve these periods of chronic pain; it can calm the onset of muscle spasms as well. Spasms most frequently occur in budding practitioners who also engage in other sports, such as running or weightlifting. Moreover, the muscles most prone to spasms are instrumental to proper yoga posture — such as the calf muscles, hamstrings, deltoids and triceps.
While the best course of action for a beginner with muscle injuries is to resume the practice of yoga after they’ve made a full recovery, CBD can aid in the healing process by controlling pain and relaxing injured muscles.
Relief from Joint Inflammation
As an endeavor revolving around focus, coordination and concentration, yoga can be challenging enough for first-timers even in an appropriate environment free from external distractions. Yet one of the most common and disruptive aspects of a beginner’s yoga experience — particularly among those getting along in years — is inflammatory disorders. These include arthritis, tendonitis and gout.
CBD’s well-established anti-inflammatory properties have made it a mainstay in the sports medicine industry. CBD is infused into recovery balms, roll-ons and salves not only to offer localized pain relief for athletes on the move, but to double as a natural alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as well.
By controlling the pain and swelling from joint or muscle inflammation, CBD can improve the yoga experience for beginners of all ages, moving even middle-aged practitioners past inflammatory disorders common to their age group, such as tennis elbow or rotator cuff tendonitis.
Promotion of Hormonal Balance and Homeostasis
The complexity of human hormonal health is due primarily to its natural ebbs and flows, as well as how they vary between individuals. Let’s look at cortisol as an example: levels of this so-called “stress hormone” shift in 24 hour cycles, generally peaking in the morning and dropping to its lowest levels around midnight in healthy individuals.
Factors such as sleeplessness, anxiety, poor diet, or fatigue can disrupt this flow in hormonal levels, and can lead to a cortisol imbalance. Typical symptoms of a cortisol imbalance include severe mood swings, muscle weakness, rapid weight gain, and high blood pressure. Any of these factor can significantly complicate the practice of yoga for beginners and intermediates alike.
CBD is currently being studied for its viability in normalizing cortisol levels, showing success in attenuating cortisol production to normal hormonal circadian rhythms in volunteer trials. While new studies are still ongoing, there’s an appreciable amount of evidence in scientific literature to suggest that supplementing with CBD can help to promote a healthy hormonal balance.
Using CBD as a Health Supplement
CBD is available in an impressive variety of formats. This includes everything from isolate powder to infused muffins or even vape oils. However, for simple, straightforward use at home or on the go, CBD oils can be the best and most versatile option for aspiring yogis.
When out and about, CBD oil can be used with a dropper for direct oral consumption or incorporation into cold tea. In a home kitchen, CBD oil becomes a much more versatile medium, and can be mixed into fruit smoothies, vinaigrettes, waffle syrup, or protein shakes. The only real limiting factor in home supplementation using CBD oil is imagination. As long as heat is avoided to preserve product potency.
With proper dosages and regular supplementation using quality products, yoga practitioners of all levels stand to benefit from CBD’s medicinal and therapeutic potential in their pursuit of harmony across body, mind, and environment.