No, it is not breaking news. Wellness culture continues to rise. Talking about health no longer just means talking about our physical bodies. Today, when we talk about health what we are really discussing is ‘wellness’ which provides a more holistic view of body, mind, and spirit. It is an intersection of our physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental and spiritual health.
We see the wellness revolution everywhere; whether it is cosmetic companies rebranding products to be more ethically-sourced, athletic and athleisure brands promoting not just a product but rather a lifestyle, or the growing popularity of cannabinoids and plant-based wellness benefits. Wellness Culture has crept into our social media, our daily routines, the social interactions we have, and the political positions we take. It is everywhere.
With the recent legalization of Cannabis in Canada, we are beginning to see a ton of wellness practitioners, health, lifestyle bloggers and athletes opening up about their experiences including cannabinoids into their physical activity.
First, what are CBD and THC?
CBD and THC are two compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD is not psychoactive, while THC is (which is responsible for the ‘high’ that cannabis can produce). Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are associated with the public cannabis industry and as a result, have often had stigmas attached to them. However, as more information comes to the surface about cannabis use (as well as the recent Canadian legalization), public opinion is changing and the women-lead Cannabis industry is truly shedding light on the profound relationships between cannabis and human wellness.
So you may be asking, “What benefits can they offer to my physical wellness routine?
According to numerous research studies, CBD and THC have been found to have a number of benefits for your body and your mind. In terms of physical activity, cannabinoids can aid in recovery from an injury or a difficult workout, and they can help you to continue to improve your performance within your wellness practices.
According to http://www.vesselbrand.com, CBD and THC may help your athletic performance in the following ways:
- Lessen Pain: Pain can be the biggest obstacle to achieving your athletic and wellness goals. CBD and THC have been shown to lessen your body’s aches and pains, allowing for better performance.
- Increased Focus: Many athletes note that CBD heightens their awareness of their body and helps them to focus on the goals in which they are trying to accomplish.
- Expanded lung capacity: This doesn’t work as a quick fix right before you compete, but studies indicate that depending on your means of use, continual use over time can actually increase lung capacity, which helps with endurance.
- Reduce anxiety + depression. Many wellness practitioners fall short of their goals due to stress and anxiety. CBD and THC help relax you so you can get the most out of your body.
- Brain repair: NFL athletes especially are prone to head injuries. Many are turning to CBD and THC because these two compounds actually aid the brain’s healing. Not only that, but studies have shown that prior use of CBD and THC may help to prevent some brain injuries in the first place.
- Pain management Whether from an injury or just repeated stress on the body, pain can kill your motivation to meet your goals. CBD and THC can be helpful to get you over this hurdle.
- Sleep aid. Adequate sleep is one of the most important parts of any training program and any journey to wellness. Sometimes the pain gets in the way, sometimes stress does. CBD and THC can aid in the quality of your sleep.
- Immune system. An illness can put you off your training routine, but recent studies suggest that CBD acts to strengthen your immune system and to keep you healthy throughout your day to day practices!
- Stimulate appetite. Athletes burn through calories, and recovering from injuries requires lots of protein. THC stimulates your appetite to help you ingest all the nutrients you need to maintain your form as well as heal from injuries.
- Promote bone growth. CBD studies also suggest it helps to strengthen your bones, to prevent breaks. It also may speed up the healing process if you do break a bone.
How I specifically incorporate cannabinoids into my everyday physical activity
Let me introduce you to my #1 wellness practice: yoga + meditation.
Yoga is an ancient form of therapy that has been INCREASINGLY backed up by scientific research. And better yet, the benefits that have been studied are not just for seasoned yogis – as I am far from! The benefits of yoga inclusive to those who are new to the practice, suffering from existing conditions, or who have been practicing for years and years!
As listed by http://www.wellnessinstitute.ca, the following is a list of some of the health benefits from yoga that have gained some serious scientific backing.
- Increased Fitness: Improved flexibility is one of the most obvious benefits of yoga, but it is also one that can lead to multiple benefits such as the reduction in aches, pain, and inflammation of the body. Many yoga sequences (asanas) build muscle strength as well, which allows you to grow stronger and maintain muscle mass by simple using the weight of your own body (and some props here and there).
- Pain Relief: Yoga has shown significant promise as a treatment for relieving some kinds of chronic pain; which can also have a positive impact on moods and need for certain forms of medication.
- Reduced Depression: In a 2007 study, UCLA researchers examined how Iyengar yoga affected people who were clinically depressed and for whom antidepressants provided only partial relief (like me!) After eight weeks of practicing three times a week, the patients reported significant decreases in both anxiety and depression. Other studies also show a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in both the levels of an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters and cortisol.
- Emotional Health: Alright, this is a big one for me guys! Long-term meditation practitioners have demonstrated significant changes in brain structure. Scientists have shown that meditation increases activity in the area of the brain associated with positive moods and emotional resilience. A yoga practice that includes spiritual elements of practice, not just asana, guide you to explore concepts of gratitude, empathy, forgiveness, and self-love.
- Mental Sharpness & Protection Against Cognitive Decline: Various aspects of yoga are known to train your attention and mindfulness, which helps your brain work better! One study even found that following a hatha yoga session participants completed a set of mental challenges both faster and more accurately than they did after a brisk walk or jog. Its also said that meditation may help ward off age-related cognitive decline.
- Better sleep: A Duke University analysis of studies on yoga for psychiatric conditions found evidence that yoga can be helpful for treating sleep disorders. Both the combination of breathing (pranayama) and asana (sequence), and meditation relaxes your muscles, slows your heart rate and helps you to control the everyday stresses in your brain, allowing you to prepare your mind and body for sleep.
- Reduced Inflammation & Stress Responses: Researchers at Ohio State University found that regular yoga practitioners had much lower blood levels of an inflammation-promoting immune cell called IL-6 than a group of people new to yoga.
- Slowed Cellular Aging: According to the wellness institute, cells include structures called telomeres, which get shorter over time. When they become too short and cells can no longer divide, they die. An enzyme called telomerase helps preserve their length, and a program which included an hour a day of yoga showed a 30% increase in the activity of telomerase.
- Better Immune Activity: One of the very first studies to ever look at how yoga affects genes indicates that practice can alter the expression of immune-related genes in our blood cells. This would actually suggest that yoga may have the potential to influence how strongly the genes you’re born with will affect your health! Meditation has had the most scientific backing on the functioning of the immune system as it appears to both boost response when needed to fight infection and lower it in cases of some autoimmune diseases.
- Reduce Medication Use: Studies of people with asthma, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes have shown that yoga helped them reduce or eliminate their need for medications. This not only saves money but reduces side effects and the risk of dangerous drug interactions.
SO HOW DOES CANNABIS IMPROVE MY PRACTICE?
- I get into it way quicker: Getting into the mindset to do yoga can at times be difficult. If you’ve ever been to a yoga session with 30 other people, or even after a day of having 237182631 stresses on your mind, then you probably know how hard it is to get into a ‘zen’ vibe to benefit best from your practice. Similar to a pre-workout, I use a Sativa dominant THC strain via a Vape Pen that imparts those motivational and ‘mellow’ vibes that I’m looking for to begin my practice!
- Your senses become heightened: Great, now that you’re in those zen vibes it’s pretty important for you to STAY in those vibes. Part of doing that is allowing your space around you, like the sounds of the birds or the sun spilling through a nearby window, to become APART of your flow. Usually, in the practice, you’re told to tune out noise and distractions, but sometimes focusing too hard on tuning EVERYTHING out puts way too much stress on your mind- breaking your zen. Rather, I like to listen to the sounds around me, feel the way the air hits my skin, and move with the spiritual rhythms I am feeling at the time.
- My movements are synced and euphoric: I am a beginner to the practice of yoga and meditation so I am unable to say that my movements are graceful, or will even look half as good as those seasoned yogis. However, paired with cannabis, my movements felt more natural and more comfortable. I am able to step outside of my insecurities and thoughts within my practice, and actually PRACTICE. It is rather refreshing – especially for someone who likes to give up on things they aren’t great at (my bad).
- I truly feel more connected to my body, mind, and soul: every sensation is exaggerated. You feel every movement, every pull, and every stretch. My thinking mind is quiet when I incorporate cannabis into my practice, which allows me to rely on the movements of my body, my breathing, and the amazing things my body has the capability of doing. This, hands down is the most beneficial perk to my spiritual practice.
- I’m motivated by what feels ‘right’ rather than mental goals: This comes with great thanks to the youtube account Yoga with Adriene, as she always reminds us within our practices to “find what feels right”. Beginning your practice with finding what feels right, rather than focusing on all the mental goals you’ve set up for yourself, helps ease your mind of stress and allows you to move through your practice in a way that is actually targetting and benefiting YOUR unique wellness needs.
- Truly feeling the power of my own energy: I am sure my fellow yogis agree, sometimes the most rewarding part of your practice is truly feeling the effects of your practice (whether it was heavily strength based or meditation based) vibrate throughout your body. Most often, you can feel your energy through Savasana which is the (corpse pose). Laying down flat on your back seems easy enough, but yogis will often say that Savasana can be the most difficult pose to practice. When you first start practicing Savasana it can be a struggle to relax in the pose. In fact, you may lie there feeling tense, bored, and staring at the ceiling. However, the essence of Savasana is to relax with attention, that is, to remain conscious and alert while being at ease to help you become more self-aware and to release the long-held tensions within your body and mind. Cannabis, whether an indica or hybrid, truly heightens this enlightening experience and opens your mind to more peace within your practice.
My vape of choice is Vessel Brand. For American consumers, you can purchase your Vessal Vape Pen at http://www.vesselbrand.com and for Canadian consumers, you can purchase your vessel with a $20 off coupon using my code EMMY at http://www.birchandfog.com
For more information on CBD and THC products, tinctures and topicals to help your athletic practice visit http://www.birchandfog.com and check out their inventory!
Don’t forget code ‘EMMY’ for 20 dollars off your purchase!