When I was in grad school, a friend of mine would “fit” yoga into her over-packed schedule, literally double parking and running from class to the next obligation. My own life was chaotic and stressful, so I knew where she was coming from—and didn’t hold the very non-yogic behavior against her. After all, it was better than yelling “Serenity now!” like George Costanza and his father did on Seinfeld.
Twenty-odd years later, life is still as hectic for both of us, if not more so. And the question remains: How does a busy grown-up make time for productive self-care? How do we move beyond our monkey-mind chatter—the to-do lists, unanswered email, carpools, and the dreaded daily question of what’s for dinner?
One answer we didn’t have in the mid-’90s (even in Portland, Oregon) is to enrich and accelerate our mindfulness practices with CBD. Post-legalization and equipped with high-quality hemp, we’re now getting deeper into our meditation and yoga—and faster. And we’re not alone. Across the country, the intersection between cannabis and mindfulness has spawned dedicated practitioners, brands, and classes, from Marijuasana to Ganga Yoga to the CBD Yoga Teacher.
Dr. Kellie Raydon, a naturopathic physician and acupuncturist in Portland, explains why CBD works: “It calms our flight-or-fight response and reduces anxiety, helping people achieve a state of consciousness and well-being that they might not be able to achieve on their own due to anxiety or pain. And the adverse effects are low.”
Because the human body produces (more than 100 of) its own endocannabinoids, Raydon says, “using CBD is akin to women using estrogen or progesterone medications that are derived from plants. Essentially, if you take CBD, you’re supplementing something the body already makes.”
Naturally, one of those helpful endocannabinoids—anandamide, from ānanda, the Sanskrit word for happiness—is known as the “bliss molecule” for its mood-enhancing properties. Research backs the bliss effect: A recent study associated this and other cannabinoids with runner’s high.
Bliss? Runner’s high? Few adverse side effects? I could use all of that.
Marsya Ancker, a meditation leader from Burlington, Vermont, has guided meditation in combination with CBD for several years. She cites pain relief as a valuable corollary benefit. “It’s the single best pain reliever I’ve ever encountered,” she says. What she’s seen is that the application of a CBD salve can make meditation physically possible for people who couldn’t otherwise get comfortable due to injuries or limitations to their mobility.
Adding CBD to a mindfulness practice helps some people extend their sense of well-being beyond the 30 or 60 minutes on the mat.
Adding CBD to a mindfulness practice also helps some people extend their sense of well-being beyond the 30 or 60 minutes on the mat. Kevin Cicotte, who owns a painting business in Greenport, New York, uses CBD as part of his daily walking meditation, vaping before he watches the sun rise over Peconic Bay. “CBD opens up my body and mind and helps me relax and be in the moment,” he tells me. “I tend to be very anxious, and CBD helps me deal with stress when it actually arrives, instead of worrying about it before it comes.”
For those who already have a flourishing mindfulness practice, CBD may help you go even deeper into your yoga or meditation. Some experienced yogis report that cannabis calms their minds faster, allowing them to enter a meditative state more efficiently, while others say it helps them stay in that state longer. Others praise CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, saying it makes their joints and muscles more flexible, in turn enabling them to hold their position or posture more comfortably. And still others note that during Savasana, the last and perhaps most important pose in yoga, they’re staying relaxed longer.
When queried about their daily regimens, most of my interviewees said a high-CBD/low-THC blend worked best for deeper, more mindful practices. They tended to prefer vaping, smoking, or using tinctures for the faster-acting benefits. They recommended dosing about 30 minutes before your practice, for full effects. Edibles come into play for all-day meditations with their slower onset and longer-lasting effects.
But the real question you’ve been waiting to ask is, “Will it help my creaky, cranky knees and hips get into lotus position?” For my harried friend and me, the answer is yes. For you, there’s a simple way to find out.
A three-step plan to better meditations.
1. Tune in
Download our favorite app, Insight Timer, start a meditation like “Rain and Thunder Sounds,” and practice surrendering.
2 . Turn on
Certain essential oils have sensory-activating properties that are proven to relax the brain. Light up some lavender or citrus bergamot aromatherapy to set the stage.
3. Zone out
Take a dose of Universal Cannabis Tonic—Earth Blend ($6, 2mg THC/18mg CBD) from Luminous Botanicals. Your brain will quiet down in about 30 minutes, paving the way to perfect calm.