For many yoga practitioners, marijuana or hemp use is an integral part of their practice. The herb’s effect on things like concentration, pain relief, calmness, euphoria, and energy are great for a yoga session. As cannabis becomes more readily available and points of purchase stock more and more strains, our ability to choose what we need for a practice is multiplying every day. It’s a new age.
Surprisingly, however, few have tried codifying the mixture of yoga and hemp or weed into an official form or type, one more like Iyengar or Hatha.
Although it may seem like an obvious connection, fewer yogis offer altered-state classes than one might think. This does not mean that students are not getting high before, during, or after classes, but generally there is no one there to tell them when, how much, or what kind of bud they should be imbibing.
What’s needed is a classroom, a community where yogis seeking to learn about the cannabanoid-yogic experience can find out which strains go with which poses, how to utilize effects during movements, and how to guide others through their experiences while practicing their flow. As much as yoga is a community, so is cannabis, and marrying the two seems fitting.
By far the best known trailblazer of the yoga-cannabis movement, a woman who indeed helped create that shift in cultural norms, is the founder of Ganja Yoga, Dee Dussault.
Started in 2009 in Dussault’s Toronto living room, Ganja Yoga came from her desire to join the positive effects she had seen from her own marijuana use with a more structured set of guidelines and lessons for mixing the two together. The first classes were hardly attended at all, and things were difficult initially; but slowly, Dussault built up a dedicated base of practitioners and aspiring teachers, eventually bringing her new form of yoga to the U.S. where she set up shop in the hippie-capital of San Francisco. Her hard work paid off, and the Ganja Yoga movement made its way into LA and NYC as well.
Then, HarperCollins Publishers offered Dussault a book deal, asking her to write a Ganja Yoga how-to. It was a bestseller, and Dussault’s name became synonymous worldwide with the concept of pairing weed with yoga, winning her features in The New York Times, Newsweek, CBS News, and Business Insider.
Now, Dussault has embarked on a tour across North America to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Ganja Yoga. She will be visiting her Ganja Yoga teachers in their studios and giving special classes and meet and greets, and will be making stops in NYC (CBD-only), Montreal, Detroit, Oakland, and LA.
Find tickets to your closest Ganja Yoga Ten Year Tour stop here.
And test out some CBD-enhanced yoga posses too!
- A little lavender oil to enhance the calmness and relaxation of your regimen OR
- Some lemon ginger oil to revitalize and energize during your morning routine!
We had the chance to speak with Dussault about the beginnings of her brand, what makes her classes so special, and what’s next for Ganja Yoga.
Why did you start Ganja Yoga?
I was a late user to cannabis, but I had been practicing yoga for years. When I started using cannabis with yoga, I realized that I could feel my body in new ways. It was relaxing, and I felt more sensations, more positive emotions. Initially it was more about increasing my connection with my body and mind. I definitely had an interest in the psychedelic aspect of cannabis. Back then, I was really coming at it from a Terence McKenna view. I think we have a right to alter our state of consciousness. I wasn’t a tie dye wearing hippie, but essentially that’s who I was appealing to.
When I first started consuming, I was really worried I’d become dependent on cannabis. I still saw it as a drug of addiction because of all the prohibition-era propaganda I was exposed to in the 80’s, that Reagan administration stuff. So I was like, okay, I’m not going to smoke more than three times a week. Cut to me today and I smoke every couple hours.
What’s funny is that nowadays, with all the known health benefits of cannabis and it becoming so much mainstream, I’m really more appealing to the average soccer moms. It’s really interesting to see in just 10 years, how the culture has changed.
When did your classes really start taking off?
My first class… I didn’t have anyone show up. So that was pretty humbling. But then I started offering the classes at a cannabis consumption lounge in a part of Toronto that the police allowed consumption in as long as no one was selling, even though it wasn’t technically legal in Canada yet. It gained a lot of popularity that way, and from there, I went to California, which is a natural progression I think. I live in Los Angeles now, and I’m focusing on training new Ganja Yoga teachers. So far it’s been going really well, and I’ve been able to train teachers from across the world in multiple continents.
What’s so special about the Ganja Yoga training?
Part of my yoga journey included me suffering from a yoga injury, so I naturally prefer certain poses. I was never taught good anatomy, and I have to say, studios and fitness people don’t really make sure you’re doing it right. There’s all these reasons it’s special, but really it’s that it’s a departure from the usual studio culture, which can be intimidating and negative. A big part of the Ganja Yoga training is about keeping our students safe even if we weren’t using cannabis. Because of my injury, I took a year long training in biomechanics and it really made me question how conventional yoga studios go about their teacher trainings. It’s the main way they make money. I wanted to slow it down and put more emphasis on safety measures simply due to my own experience. And then I think a portion of what makes it special is also about the medicinal aspects of cannabis, and the importance of making a safe and sacred space for people in an altered state.
Would you consider moving into other psychedelics, aside from cannabis?
Totally! I know right now the city of Oakland and the state of Colorado have decriminalized magic mushrooms, so I’m excited to facilitate low dose mushroom yoga journeys. I definitely think cannabis is just the first piece of a much larger conversation about using all kinds of plant medicines.
What’s next for Ganja Yoga?
Online Ganja Yoga! I’ve shot 50 or 60 video classes thus far, so I’m in all different backgrounds. There are classes for people from all levels, and of all ages. It’s an incredible way for someone who doesn’t live in a major metropolitan area to still get the benefits of a Ganja Yoga class, without leaving their homes. I’m aiming for a December launch, so be on the lookout!