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Cannabis + Yoga : Discovering the Connection

In 2019 my husband and I decided to embark on a journey into hemp. To say we were inexperienced growers was an understatement, but we were willing to take on the challenge. Cannabis is something that has helped me throughout my life to deal with chronic (excuse the pun) physical pain, and helped him to manage anxiety. We have both been strongly pro-cannabis for 20 years, and wanted to help de-stigmatize it as well as bring the healing properties of this plant to others.

We both grew up during the national climate of DARE, 3 Strikes You’re Out, and This is Your Brain on Drugs. To say that all of the propaganda we experienced was vehemently anti-cannabis would be another understatement. But nonetheless, cannabis eked its way into my life as a teenager in North Dakota. And I was proud to be doing something perceived as counter-culture, and enjoyed challenging people’s beliefs on what was right and wrong; Not to mention LMAO with my friends.

Fast forward 10 years to me taking my first yoga class. I joined a friend of mine at a vinyasa yoga class provided by our workplace and followed the teacher’s direction for 60 mins. I thoroughly enjoyed it. After the class had finished and we were cleaning up, I noticed that my body felt very similar to how it felt when I had used cannabis before. I was relaxed, euphoric, and sensed less tension in my muscles, joints, and mind. I consciously made that connection then and there, and have been practicing yoga ever since because of those benefits. Weed was something that had come and gone in my life over those 10 years, but was never habitual for me.

In 2008 I moved to California and became slowly indoctrinated into the legal medical cannabis market. I had received a prescription from a physician for cannabis to treat my Restless Leg Syndrome and Nocturnal Myoclonus. (the leg cramps would start in the evening, and continue throughout my entire night of sleep - I rarely enter REM sleep, and I kick my legs once a minute all night long.) The doctor was overjoyed to give me the prescription, stating that (in 2011) there was modern, accepted, scientific proof of Cannabis being an anticonvulsant that would reduce muscle spasms. They advised me that I could expect temporary relief from those chronic symptoms. The recommendation was for a cannabis strain high in CBD. I was able to experiment with some different products and flowers to find what worked best for me. It truly helped to cease my leg discomfort and induce sleep.

On our hemp growing journey I was surprised by the different responses we received from people as they found out what we were doing. I have to give Baby Boomers some props here, as many of them that we met or talked to were very pro cannabis normalization, and truly supported us. It felt like maybe the tides are turning for cannabis legalization and understanding its uses and abilities. But I was still surprised by how many questions people had for us about everything from plants to CBD Isolates and everything in between. I still get those questions to this day, because it's been an unregulated and minimally studied market for so long, there aren’t a lot of modern scientific studies that offer clear insight. Nor is there much for trusted resources when it comes to cannabis information - A few favorite resources of mine are Leafly and Oaksterdam University. That problem is getting better slowly, but learning about this plant and its effects still takes a lot of research and sorting through endless self-proclaimed expertise.

Today I want to explain some of these things in an approachable way, to help you see if using hemp or cannabis products is right for you.

"What is Cannabis, CBD and THC exactly?"

Modern terminology varies greatly when referring to the Cannabis genus of plants. (Buds, Pot, Weed, Kind, Hashish, etc.) But Cannabis is the scientific name for the plant pictured below. There are 3 commonly recognized species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

The term “HEMP” is used to classify a cannabis plant that has low, naturally occurring, levels of THC (less than .3% in total) And refers to all the family Cannabaceae plants.

The term “Marijuana” is often used to describe plants with higher levels of naturally occurring THC (greater than .3% up to 30+%). But the widespread use of the term Marijuana in America is a by-product of the racial profiling and prohibition laws used to control Latin American immigrants in the United States. We strongly encourage you to omit the term marijuana from your vocabulary and replace it with cannabis.

Cannabis plants produce a known 483 compounds, including at least 65 cannabinoids, multiple flavonoids, and terpenes. CBD and THC are abundantly occurring Cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and the most talked about. The cannabinoids are found in the Resin produced by the plant as a self protectant! The entire plant gets covered in this sticky residue, but is found on the flowers in strongest concentrations. The flowers can be smoked or used to infuse butters and oils. The resin can be separated from the entire plant mechanically by agitating or using a heated press creating Keif, and hash. Or by extraction methods using CO2, or other solvents like ethanol to render an “oil/wax” free of most plant materials.

CBD itself is non-psychotropic, and will not cause a psychoactive “high” feeling. THC is psychotropic, and will create a “high” or psychoactive feeling when consumed in larger percentages.

CBD by itself is anxiolytic - a drug used to reduce anxiety; And can reduce inflammation and blood pressure.

CBD can act as a balancing agent against the effects of THC in the endocannabinoid system.

CDB and Delta 8 THC are federally legal, and legal in the state of Minnesota. THC Delta-9 is federally illegal, and recreationally legal in MN in amounts over .3% concentration.

THC is approved for medical purposes in many states including MN.

Medical uses of CBD

  • Anti-seizure

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Analgesic

  • Anti-tumor effects

  • Antipsychotic

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Depression

Medical uses of THC

  • Analgesic

  • Anti-nauseant

  • Appetite stimulant

  • Reduces glaucoma symptoms

  • Sleep aid

  • Anti-anxiety

  • Muscular spasticity

"Ok, now I understand more about cannabis, but what does it have to do with yoga?"

Cannabis appeared in Asia over 5,000 years ago, with documented use of the plant beginning at 2,500 years ago. It is in the Vedic texts of India, and the Chinese Herbal medicinal journals that we begin to see mention of uses for cannabis for spiritual or medicinal purposes.

The Indian god Shiva is said to be pictured with a cannabis plant in renderings of the god. Using cannabis was believed to help assist in getting to a place of complete bliss and concentration. Cannabis is still used in India in a festival called Shivaratri.

Yoga is the Sanskrit term used to refer to a series of beliefs and practices that stem from the Vedic texts. The term Yoga is translated as: To Yoke, union, or connect. Other terms you may have heard referring to cannabis are Ganja, and Bhang. These words are also Sanskrit and reference the use of cannabis in India.

So, our goal in Yoga is to connect…mind and spirit, mind and breath, breath and body, internal and external etc. Enter the Endocannabinoid system; all mammals have this unique system within the body that regulates the nervous and immune system. This system was named after the cannabis plant! It’s receptors in our bodies match with the cannabinoids created within our own bodies, as well as those found in the cannabis plant.

The endocannabinoid system contains receptors that can be found throughout the brain, nervous system, peripheral organs and tissues. It is described as the root of the mind to body connection.

"So, if I use cannabis I will automatically achieve enlightenment?"

That’s something I can neither confirm, nor deny. What I can say is that cannabis is something that has helped me tremendously in my lifetime, and I have seen it help many others too. I have used it for physical relief, I have used it as part of a spiritual practice, and I have used it recreationally. Like all things, consider what is reasonable for your body, mind and spirit. And use when needed, with moderation (unless you are a reincarnated God I suppose).

There are so many ways to experience cannabis today, and I believe you are now equipped with enough knowledge to start you on your path. If you want to know more, or have any questions please reach out to me via email. I love to help!

If you want to support us and try our handcrafted hemp products, grown and made right here in MN, check out my product and dispensary recommendations here.

(This blog post was originally published in April 2021 on the 612 Yoga website, a few edits were made for this updated post)

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