Story by Tanusha Chakravarty | Bay Side Journal
I stumbled across on an article on a lady, Dee Dussault who offers ganja yoga and it piqued my interest. The concept sounded a bit weird at first but as you read and think about it, the combination starts to make sense. Yoga, after all is a mindful, spiritual experience that promotes relaxation and marijuana kind of gets you there a bit faster (not that I would know, I've just heard about it). There is no doubt as well, that this an ancient Indian custom and is probably still practised in the subcontinent.
Dee Dussault has been practising yoga for the past 20 years and is the first yoga teacher to offer cannabis-enhanced yoga outside of India. Since 2009, she has helped thousands of clients embark on a journey of "trippy self-discovery" through the ancient pairing of cannabis and yoga.
Dee makes sure her clients are safe during the cannabis-fuelled classes through the slow-moving hatha yoga. Dee, who is advocate for the positive use of the pant, donates 0.42% of the profits from her classes to the Marijuana Policy Project. Clients can come in for her ganja yoga classes with a medical marijuana card or even 'pre-enhanced'.
A native of Toronto, Canada, Dee practises in San Francisco and has also taught in Costa Rica, Vancouver, Portland, and Toronto. We got in touch with her and here are some excerpts from an enlightening interview:
1. How did you get into yoga?
In 1995, I got a VHS for Christmas and loved it so much, I memorized it and started teaching the moves to my friends. I found it incredibly helpful as a way to manage my anxiety and stress. It was a way to generate self-care and self-love every day. It was a more spiritual yoga than what is often taught in the West, (and much of modern India, to my knowledge). I loved it. I got into meditation when I was eighteen. I do twenty to thirty minutes of easy yoga most days, more if I have time, and about ten minutes of meditation. I am very relaxed about my practice.I am advocating for yin experiences of the body and a yoga that is not completely void of spiritual, psychological, and mental practices.
2. How did you get the idea to combine marijuana and yoga?
In 2009 I started to hear about the medical benefits of cannabis. Before that, the combination of my small-town Ontario upbringing and the usual anti-marijuana propaganda that came with being born in the 1980s, made it such that I had never considered that the herb could be a wellness aid, only a way to loosen the consciousness and party. I soon discovered more positive uses for the plant. Relaxation, insight, creativity, energy. And I learned that cannabis has been used for thousands of years as a spiritual aid, specifically in the yoga tradition and in Ayurveda, but also across the globe.
This blew my mind, because it was never mentioned in my yoga teacher training, which did not tell me that the whole practice of yoga actually has roots in ancient Shiva cults that used cannabis as a form of worship. It was believed that Ganja (also called "Vijaya") would bring spiritual insights, and that sentiment seems to make sense for the thousands of people I've taught across various continents!
3. How long have you been practicing the two in combination?
I've been teaching Ganja Yoga since 2009. At the time, there were no other yoga teachers publicly offering the pairing, so I think I might have been the first to do that. I know hippies were getting high and doing all sorts of Eastern practices including yoga, and I know dispensaries were offering yoga to medical marijuana patients who medicate before class, but I think I am the first person who made it "a thing." I got started in Toronto, Canada, my home-town. I moved to the mecca of cannabis and wellness, San Francisco, California, in 2012. Since then, I've had people reach out to say they're starting to offer their own version of cannabis-enhanced yoga in Colorado, LA, San Diego, Alaska, and Vancouver. That makes me really happy!!!
4. What is different or special about your classes?
Besides ensuring that people learn the mindfulness and meditation aspects, my classes are relaxation-based. That means, it is not yoga to build a more attractive body. It's yoga to turn inwards, develop a better relationship to ourselves, and learn how to release stress. They are much more slow and deliberate than 90% of the yoga you'd see in a western studio. Even without the use of cannabis, this form of practice is what I want to offer the world. Embodied mindfulness. Pleasure. Conscious relaxation, in community. But especially when altering one's state of consciousness, one has to be careful in other forms of yoga, that might be more fast-paced or challenging.
5. How does cannabis enhance the experience of doing yoga?
Cannabis encourages you to slow down and revel in the nuances of basic poses instead of treating yoga like exercise. The two wellness aids, when coupled, are greater than each one alone.
6. What are the no-nos of mixing marijuana and yoga?
I can't stress this enough: Redefine your idea of yoga. When you're high, avoid doing fast-moving or dangerous postures (unless you're already comfortable with these forms of yoga while sober).
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