Yoga Lit: Exploring the relationship between Yoga & Cannabinoids
Dr. Latora Grant Scott,PhD,RN - The Nurse Doc is Zen™
There is a familiar phrase, I’m “high on life”. People often use this description to express that their lives are happy and stress free. You may also be familiar with this term being used by athletes or exercise enthusiast to explain their euphoria after a great workout. This euphoric feeling is known as a “runner’s high” and for decades has been miscredited to the release of endorphins. Dr. David Linden shares that “runner’s high” is probably not completely mediated by our opioid system, since exercise also increases endocannabinoid levels in our bloodstream and easily move throughout the body. (1)
Endocannabinoids are our body’s natural cannabis-like molecules. Research has revealed that it is Anandamide, which is known as the bliss molecule, that is responsible for the euphoric feeling. (2) Anandamide is a fatty acid neurotransmitter and a naturally occurring endocannabinoid. The bliss molecule has properties very similar to cannabinoids found outside of our bodies within the hemp plant.
As a neurotransmitter this molecule binds to receptors found throughout our body as part of the Endocannabinoid System. Within our body Anandamide plays a key role in pain and pleasure perceptions; appetite regulation; stress response; memory and fertility.(3) Interestingly, Anandamide is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Ananda’ which means bliss. Yoga is also a Sanskrit word meaning to unite or integrate. As a Holistic Wellness Practitioner and Advanced Degree Nurse, when working with clients, I focus on merging the art and science of Nursing with holistic wellness practices like Yoga. You may be wondering how is Yoga different from other forms of exercise or physical activity when it comes to releasing the bliss hormone?
Research has shown that regarding emotional health and well-being, Yoga has a significant advantage over other aerobic activity. It is my belief that Yoga’s focus on proper breathing and being present in the moment are essential in cultivating the experience of bliss. Oxygen Bars are based on this concept of improving oxygenation to produce a euphoric effect. In these settings the patron creates the effect with the application of supplemental oxygen.
Amazingly we can produce our own euphoric, blissful experience with proper breathing, or Pranayama the fourth limb of Yoga. Pranayama techniques increase the amount of oxygen utilization within our body. So, get lit with me and engage in a practice that will have you “high on life”. Pranayama is the breath and breath is Life!
Photo Credit: Elazar Scott Photo Credit: Elazar Scott
(1) David J. Linden, Ph.D., is a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the author of The Compass of Pleasure.
(2) Dsouza,Josmitha Maria; Chakraborty, Anirban; Veigas, Jacintha. Biological Connection to the Feeling of Happiness. Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research. Oct2020, Vol. 14 Issue 10, p1-5. 5p.
(3) Jakub Mlost, Agnieszka Wąsik, Katarzyna Starowicz. Role of endocannabinoid system in dopamine signaling within the reward circuits affected by chronic pain. Pharmacological Research, Volume 143,
2019, ISSN 1043-6618, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2019.02.029