HelloMD interviewed Dee Dussault, the founder of Ganja Yoga, to learn more about her cannabis enhanced yoga classes, as well as her new book, also entitled ‘Ganja Yoga’. Helping people find bliss through relaxation, mindfulness, and sensuality, she has practiced yoga for twenty-two years. Now with the help of cannabis, Dee teaches private and public classes in San Fransisco that combine meditative yoga appropriate for every age and all levels.
Dee will be teaching at HelloMD’s Mindful Haven event on Sunday July 30, 2017 which will feature cannabis, yoga, and an immersive sound bath.
Q: What’s Ganja Yoga?
A: Ganja Yoga yoga enhanced with cannabis. In my permutation of it, it is yoga specifically designed to help people relax.
Q: Were you the first person to offer Ganja Yoga?
A: Yes! I googled cannabis yoga in 2009 and I didn’t see any other listings online. Interestingly, I later found that Berkeley Patients Group had offered yoga classes at their dispensary, but you had to consume before coming to the class. That was in the nineties, so technically there was one class before me. I think a key differentiator is that the class was not getting high together as a social process before yoga. My Ganja Yoga class was the first to really offer this kind of experience and open it to the public, instead of just dispensary members.
Dee helping one of her students, courtesy @Ganjayoga
Q: What inspired you to start teaching Ganja Yoga?
A: It was based on my personal experience. When it came to cannabis, I was a late bloomer. Not until my late twenties did I discover it because I felt that it made me really anxious and paranoid. Avoiding it all through college, I tried it again in my late twenties, and immediately I found that I just wanted to get on the floor and start stretching. My yoga practice had been active for about twelve years and I suddenly found that cannabis just naturally enhanced my experience. It made me want to explore poses in new ways and I found a new sense of curiosity and fascination. I believe cannabis and yoga go together like chocolate and peanut butter!
Q: What's a typical experience within your class?
The first half an hour is what I might call a ‘stoner social’. Classes have joints, vape pens, or edibles and the first half an hour of class is about consuming with the community. You are free to come as you wish and socialize with your fellow ganja yogis. Then there is a ninety minute practice that is focused on relaxation. Some yoga that is popular nowadays is about cultivating fitness or getting a “yoga body”, but this is really for all levels, anyone can do it. This type of yoga goes back to basics and uses cannabis to help you move more deeply into basic postures.
Dee on her book tour, courtesy @Ganjayoga
Q: Why did you write your book Ganja Yoga?
A: I’d been thinking about writing a book for a while, but it was one of those things that I had always put on the back-burner. The publisher, Harper Collins, actually approached me, which was such a blessing. They had decided it was time for a book about cannabis and wellness and they thought of me, so that was really cool. We worked together and wrote it faster than most books are written because we wanted to have it released for 4/20 this year.
In the book, I tell people about my journey, so that people who have trepidations about the plant understand there are many ways to work through the anxiety. It may be about changing the strain you consume or changing the dose or looking at how you feel. It is also about the history of cannabis and yoga. Cannabis was used throughout Asia and India and many other parts of the world for spiritual and medicinal purposes, so the practice is not new per-say, but what is new is having it in this modern context that includes socializing. People have been using cannabis for religious and spiritual reasons for thousands of years.
Q: What are common misconceptions about GY?
When I tell people I teach Ganja Yoga or cannabis infused yoga their response is usually, “Oh my gosh, that sounds like the perfect pairing!” Equally so, the other response I get is “Oh, is that safe?”. So, people have this idea that cannabis makes you immediately intoxicated and unable to do yoga.
I would like to rewrite the script of cannabis consumption to show that it is not always used to get super messed up. It can be used that way and that can be fun and there is nothing wrong with that, but there is also the idea of a sophisticated or more mature cannabis use where you are micro or moderate dosing and you are not getting very intoxicated before the practice.
Really, it’s is about rewriting the stoner stereotype. When people ask if Ganja Yoga is safe, to me it is more about if yoga is safe? If your yoga practice is slow moving and focused on proper alignment, then it is going to be safe. If you are doing a crazy vinyasa drill sergeant type practice then it might not be safe, so it is about rewriting both scripts, the yoga script and the stoner script.
A Ganja Yoga student, courtesy @Ganjayoga
Q: Besides Ganja Yoga, what else do you do?
A: I am also a sexuality coach, which could be cannabis enhanced or not, it is up to the clients. I help singles and couples deepen intimacy and find ways to make time for a more mindful and sensual engagement in the world. Sensual as opposed to sexual, but of course they’re on a spectrum, so when you are more sensually engaged your sex life will be more rewarding as well. I help people slow down and connect with their partner in new ways.
Q: Where can people find your book?
A: You can purchase it by going to theganjayogabook.com, which displays all of the retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I will also be going to book stores to do readings and teach yoga classes during a nationwide book tour.