Now that Goat Yoga has come and gone, there’s a new diva strutting onto main stage America – the bold, bodacious kind – and everyone’s head is turning. You simply cannot ignore her presence, her stature, nor her fascinating history. For over 100 years, Mary Jane, who like any Great Goddess is known by many names (marijuana, cannabis, weed), has been lurking offstage in the wings, waiting for a rise in human consciousness to reemerge in the limelight front and center.

Yet in recent times, her audience was less than approving.

Back on August 2, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, the first federal law banning possession and use of marijuana. That law was overturned in 1970 by the Supreme Court. And although the American Medical Association testified there was “no evidence” of marijuana’s danger, Congress simultaneously passed the Controlled Substances Act to ensure marijuana remained illegal. 

Fast forward to 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Since then, we’ve witnessed enormous turnaround in public and government perception of pot. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and D.C., and eight states have legalized recreational use.

It’s fascinating that a vivacious plant which has been used and respected in many cultures around the globe for thousands of years as a powerful medicinal herb has caused such panic in our country. That cannabis induces expanded states of conscious and helps users to “know God” is somehow a peril to our national security is a conundrum. Embraced in the ’60s by “slackers, druggies and hippies,” cannabis has staged an impressive comeback on the national scene.

Just look on the shelves of your local market and you’ll see CBD – the non-psychoactive component of cannabis – on a myriad of products, including power smoothies and estate chocolates. Search online and you’ll find hundreds of companies selling tinctures, oils, salves, edibles, vapes, accessories and more. The speed at which marijuana is now being legalized is dizzying, and the number of products available – both natural botanicals and synthetic derivatives – can put even savvy “canna” fans into a tailspin.

Although there are over 100 known natural chemicals – cannabinoids – in the marijuana plant, these two are the most revered: THC and CBD. 

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the principle psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. THC is activated by heating – smoking, vaping or decarboxylation. It’s one reason why yogis have smoked cannabis for thousands of years of spiritual practice, to open and enhance the path to enlightenment. 

CBD, or cannabidiol, is not psychoactive. It doesn’t get you high, it’s gets you “in your body.” For this reason alone, it may be of great interest to studio owners and practitioners alike. CBD is anti-inflammatory and has many health benefits. THC stimulates the CB1 receptor in your brain, which is part of your body’s endocannabinoid or “reward” system, thus getting you high, while CBD inhibits the CB1 receptor, making you calm and grounded.

There is buzz in the scientific community: funding for new studies and published research on cannabis is on the rise. For yoga studio, owners there are a few important things to know if you want to offer CBD and yoga events at your studio:

  • The laws, even in states that have legalized cannabis, keep changing. There is big money is this burgeoning industry – both in tax revenue and business profit – and many big players who determine how laws are written, enforced and altered. It’s a “must” to keep up-to-date with federal, state and local laws, especially ones regulating sales and use of cannabis. Setting a “suggested donation” instead of a specific class price may be one way to navigate this constantly shifting gray area. 
  • Terms that may be used interchangeably in social conversation – pot, weed, cannabis, marijuana, CBD, hemp, etc. – have specific legal meanings on state and federal levels. Generally, CBD comes from industrial hemp and must contain less than .3% THC – which is to say, virtually none. Since federal and state governments regulate THC and CBD differently, it’s very important to make sure you’re not mixing terms, nor offering the wrong product.
  • While, CBD has numerous and positive side-benefits for overall health, not everyone likes its taste or effects, and not all your students will care to try it.

But these three health benefits of CBD might have you pairing CBD and yoga events at your studio:

1. CBD Reduces Pain

Cannabis seeds were used to relieve joint and muscle pain, constipation, ease female reproductive disorders, and treat gout and malaria, as early as 2900 B.C. in China. Around 1000 B.C., in India, the flowers of cannabis were used as analgesic, hypnotic, tranquilizer, anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory agents.

As the medicinal value of cannabis is honored, more scientific studies are conducted. One recent study showed CBD effectively relieved sciatic pain. That’s good news for yogis, since sciatic pain can arise from too much forward bending, tight hamstrings, or a spinal misalignment such as herniated disk, spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis.

Topical CBD salves are a good product to combat joint and muscle soreness. At Prakasa Yoga & Wellness, we’ve used topicals successfully to reduce physical pain, especially in our shoulders and knees. But honestly, in my experience, arnica is just as effective topic treatment for pain relief and generally much less expensive. With either product, it’s wonderful to have natural choices to address physical pain and avoid potentially harmful opioids and pharmaceuticals. 

My suggestion: Pair a CBD topical salve with a therapeutic yoga class. Apply liberally and align with precision and joy.

2. CBD Reduces Depression, Anxiety, PTSD

According to the World Health Organization, depression is the No. 1 most common cause of disability worldwide, and anxiety is No. 6. Recent studies have shown significant reduction of both depression and anxiety when CBD oil is taken internally in specific amounts. Too much or too little CBD oil, and there’s no real positive benefit. But find the right dosage and voila, benefits abound. We’ve offered CBD oil in tincture form, at our monthly sound healings, and folks just love the enhanced relaxation and grounding experience which allows them to focus on the music.

My suggestion: Offer an oral dose of CBD at restorative yoga class or kirtan.

3. CBD Reduces Insomnia/Increases Sleep

As yoga studio owners, we’re probably more inclined to employ the practices of pranayama, yoga nidra, and meditation to reduce stress and induce sleep than we are to pop pharmaceutical pills. But there is hard scientific evidence CBD oil taken internally can help people with insomnia, rest well and sleep more deeply. That’s exciting news. So why not combine the best of both worlds?

My suggestion: Pair oral CBD with a pranayama, yoga nidra or meditation class.

As an experienced yogi, you know the immediate benefits of regular practice on the body, mind and spirit. So, it makes perfect sense that CBD and yoga would be a great pairing, and might be a great paring for your studio.