HelloMD had the privilege of sitting down the Dee Dussault, the founder of Ganja Yoga, to learn more about her cannabis enhanced yoga classes, as well as her new book titled Ganja Yoga. Dee helps people find bliss through relaxation, mindfulness, and sensuality, and has practiced yoga for twenty-two years. Dee teaches both private and public classes, primarily in San Fransisco, that combine meditative yoga with sun grown, organic cannabis.
Q: What is Ganja Yoga?
A: Ganja yoga is cannabis enhanced yoga. In my permutation of it, it is yoga specifically designed to help people relax.
Q: Were you the first person in the US to offer ganja yoga?
A: Yes that is true, I was the first to market the concept. In 2009 I googled cannabis yoga and I didn’t see any listings online which got me thinking. Interestingly, I later found that Berkley Patients Group had offered yoga classes at their dispensary, but you had to get high before coming to the class. That was in the nineties, so that was before I started. However, at Berkeley Patient Group they were not ingesting cannabis together as a social process before yoga, so I was the first to really offer that experience and open it to the public, instead of just dispensary members.
Dee Dussault teaching an outdoor Ganja Yoga Class
Q: What was your inspiration to start GY?
A: It was my personal experience with cannabis. I was a late bloomer when it came to cannabis, I didn’t really get into it until my late twenties because it made me really anxious and I experienced a bad sense of paranoia. I avoided it all through college, but when I tried it again in my late twenties, I found immediately that I just wanted to get on the floor and start stretching. I already had a yoga practice for about twelve years before that and cannabis just naturally enhanced my experience of yoga. It made me want to explore poses in new ways and I found fascination with it in some way that I never had before. As far as I am concerned, cannabis and yoga go together like chocolate and peanut butter.
Q: What do people typically experience within one of your classes?
A: The first half an hour is what I call a stoner social. Our classes have joints, vape pens, or edibles and the first half an hour 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 now of days is about cultivating fitness or getting a ‘yoga body’, but this is really an all levels, anyone can do it type yoga that goes back to basics. Ganja yoga uses cannabis to help you move more deeply into basic postures.
Q: What is your book Ganja Yoga & why write it now?
A: I’ve 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 as I focused on my yoga practice. The publisher, Harper Collins, actually approached me; 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, there is a little bit about my own journey, and how I originally found cannabis to be anxiety producing and how I’m now using cannabis to heighten relaxation, both feelings that are on the opposite side of the spectrum. I am telling people about my own journey so that people who have trepidations about the plant understand there are many ways to work through the anxiety, whether it is changing the strain or changing the dose or looking at how you feel or what environment you are in when you consume cannabis.
It is a little bit about my journey, but it is more 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, I find that a very fascinating fact and shows how right the practice feels for so many of us.
Q: Any interesting discovery you experienced while writing your book?
A: There isn’t necessarily something I learned about myself, but something I have found is that normally when I tell people I teach ganja yoga or cannabis infused yoga their response is usually, “Oh my gosh that sounds like the perfect pair,” but 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, 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.
Yoga participants at Ganja Yoga
Ganja Yoga to me is about rewriting the stoner stereotype. In regards to the safety question, just talking about yoga specifically with cannabis aside, many people suffer yoga injuries because of our modern adaptation of the process is so rigorous and fast moving. Many yoga teachers have 200 hours of teacher training and are teaching classes of 100 people and are not able to prevent injuries. So, 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.
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: When is your book Ganja Yoga available and where can people find it?
A: It is coming out the week of 4/20. It is now available for preorder, and the preorder comes with a free ganja yoga video class. You can purchase it by going to ganjayogabook.com, which displays all of the retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I am also going on an eight city book tour in the months of April and May, so I will be going to book stores to do readings and teach yoga classes along the way.