For well over a decade, I have struggled with Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD.) My jaw locks, pops, swings, hangs out in a misaligned state. The result is an ever-present headache, an achy face, and constant tension in my neck and shoulder region. Thankfully, I’ve learned how to manage the pain and tension over the years with cannabis and yoga.
On the worst pain days, I hydrate with lots of fresh water, eat a little food, medicate with a little inhaled cannabis, and step onto my yoga mat. Within minutes, cannabis allows me to compartmentalize the pain. It changes the way my brain processes the painful sensations and makes working through the discomfort manageable. Basically, cannabis provides just enough detachment, or dissociation, thereby allowing me to work toward symptom relief. Awareness brought on by cannabis helps me to find space in my body with breath. And since cannabis is an incredible bronchodilator, it literally helps me to deepen my breath which helps me to release tension along my spine in deep twists and forward folds. Within twenty minutes, I am able to reduce the pain, relieve tension, strengthen my body, and move on with my day, smile splashed on my face. You may be reading this and think, that’s kind of corny. And maybe it is, but when your face hurts, smiling is not to be taken for granted.
It’s important to note that both cannabis and yoga up-regulate the Endocannabinoid System. This system is responsible for bringing the body into balance, a process known as homeostasis. Both cannabis and yoga also help to protect the brain as chronic pain sufferers tend to have altered brain structures. Such alterations are linked to depression, anxiety, and impaired cognitive function. So I not only practice yoga and use cannabis to relieve my acute episodes of pain, I invest in both to protect my brain and nervous system from further damage associated with chronic pain. To this end, I implore any chronic pain sufferer to explore the potential benefits of a yoga practice, the potential benefits of using cannabis in a therapeutic way, and the potential benefits of using a little bit of both to reduce the negative short-term and long-term impacts associated with chronic pain…with a qualified, cannabis-literate health professional’s guidance of course.
Bergland, C. (2015, May 27). How Does Yoga Relieve Chronic Pain? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201505/how-does-yoga-relieve-chronic-pain