Finding the Way In
Something I’ve noticed when most of us in the West begin studying yoga is that it’s all about the physical practice of doing postures (asanas) on a sticky mat. Asana practice is both challenging and fun, and as it happens, if you (or someone like you) consistently spend a lot of time on the mat, you can take a physical journey which looks something like this:
And your practice can go from looking like this:
To looking like this:
That’s all fun and charismatic. But the truth is that you can be beautiful and bendy, and still be a miserable human being. You can be beautiful and bendy, but you can still suffer from injury or illness — or just the inevitable impacts of time. In reality, you can be a kickass 90-something yoga teacher, but a few impacts of living 90-something years are fundamentally unavoidable because that’s just how life works.
Which isn’t to say don’t do yoga, or don’t expect to benefit physically from time on the mat. The whole point of the physical practice is to improve your health. But the ultimate reason why we want to be physically healthy is so that we suffer less; so that we’re less distracted by both bodily aches and pains, as well as the endless mental chatter that wants to tell us how badly we’re living our lives. The point of yoga is finding peace: peace with ourselves, with reality as it is, and with everyone around us.
This, by the way, is no easy feat. Which is why classical monks and yogis went off to meditate in Himalayan caves for decades at a time — and they weren’t even distracted by smartphones, social media, and an intense, pervasive feeling of FOMO.
Something else I’ve noticed in years of teaching yoga to everyone from high school students to senior citizens is how few people have an intimate relationship with themselves — both physically and psycho-spiritually. Even competitive athletes can be far more focused on getting the job done — on winning — than they are on the experience of living happily in their bodies.
In fact, many of them seem to be more invested in overcoming the limitations of their bodies, pushing through pain and injury and maximizing performance, than they are in optimizing their long-term well-being. I suspect they’re thinking something like, “Win now. Deal with the rest later.”
That makes enormous sense when your job is to meet the needs of the moment, but can have numerous unintended life-long consequences.
Which brings us around to CBD yoga. There’s a reason we’re seeing such an explosion of CBD use lately. People from all walks of life are starting to learn what a valuable tool CBD can be for managing a wide range of medical conditions – from everyday aches and pains to sleeplessness, PTSD, cancer, epilepsy, anxiety, and arthritis. Because it lacks THC, CBD won’t get you high, but it can most definitely mellow you out.
All of this is great for yoga, because most people, when they get on the mat for asana practice, aren’t really fully present on the mat. They’re thinking about why it took them so long to get back to class or feeling insecure about an excessively protruding body part or getting anxious that they don’t know what they’re doing or just struggling with the limitations of tight hamstrings or bound-up shoulders or why they suddenly can’t do the fancy arm-balancing move they were able to do last time.
They’re thinking about bad romances or great romances or why they ate so much ice cream last night or how in the world they’re ever going to pay the rent or where they’re going on vacation this summer.
While it’s every yogi’s job to practice noticing all the times when their mind goes astray, and bring themselves back to their breath and to the moment, CBD can be a great tool for helping turn down the volume on all that mental rambunctiousness. It’s also a great pain mediator, so it can both ease the physical discomfort of certain postures, while simultaneously reducing the emotional panic response many folks have to feeling uncomfortable (this can be true for off-the-mat situations as well).
Not that we’re using CBD to push people to the point of injury — quite the opposite. The power of CBD is that it can help people tune in more deeply to the variety of physical sensations in their body, help them relax, and distinguish between the kinds of sensations which can be worked with and through, and the kinds of pain which mean they’re causing themselves damage.
Ultimately, the practice of yoga is about bringing ease and mindfulness to every aspect of our lives. As my yoga teachers in New York City used to say, “If you can stay relaxed when you’re all pretzeled on the mat, you can stay relaxed during rush hour in the subway or at Thanksgiving dinner with your family.”
So, come join us this Sunday, March 25, at 4pm (Hempy Half-Hour starts at 3:30) for Blue Dream CBD Yoga. Tickets are at Brown Paper Tickets – $15 for the general public and $10 for Heady members (check out the Members-Only section of the website or the Members Facebook page for the discount code).
All experience levels (with both yoga and CBD) are welcome. CBD will be provided by our sponsor HemptationUSA, but you’ll need to bring your own mat.
If you want to come, but have questions or concerns, give me a holler at firstname.lastname@example.org.