Above: Dee Dussault of Ganja Yoga, October 2017. Photo credit – Dera Keith
We visited the cozy SoMa studio of Dee Dussault, the first public cannabis yoga instructor in the USA and author of The Book on Ganja Yoga, to discuss her personal relationship with cannabis, how she came to combine yoga with ganja and best practices for newcomers.
How did you come up with the idea of Ganja Yoga?
I started yoga in my mid-teens and practiced for about a decade before incorporating cannabis. In my late twenties, I was reintroduced to cannabis after bad experiences in my early teens where I had bad trips, as the strains were too strong and too much for me.
After this long hiatus, I started to realize that when I used cannabis I wanted to do yoga more and that cannabis really increased my enjoyment of the practice. I got deeper into it and felt like my muscles were easier to sketch and to relax. Yoga felt more interesting. I found I daydreamed more.
I brought the ganja yoga concept to my yoga teacher to ask for her blessing. She consented, saying that I should do what is true to myself. Shortly after I started the classes in my living room.
What are the best methods of medicating in your classes?
Personally I like edibles for yoga, but with a lower dose. If it is too high I tend to get sleepy and not as into my yoga as I like to be. My favorite [edible] brand is Moonman’s Mistress. The founder is really passionate about being ethical in sourcing her ingredients. She also has had digestive issues, so she really sees cannabis as medicine. She doesn’t add any junk into the edibles – no refined sugar. Her edibles are all paleo and are made with coconut oils.
What advice would you give to a newcomer to Ganja Yoga?
My advice is that both yoga and cannabis can be places of medication, if you make the right choices.
You should also realize it’s not just about any combination of cannabis and yoga. If you get super high on crappy weed and do very hard yoga with poor instruction, that is not going to bring you the same effect as being in a safe environment with wonderful weed that has been lovingly crafted, enhanced by high quality instruction (pardon the pun!) and slow, mindful yoga.
If you want your yoga fast or hard in a way that is not appropriate for all-levels environment, there are places where you can get high and do the whole cannabis athleticism. But to get really good safe yoga where your joints and your tissues are being respected, you can’t fly through poses, especially when you are in an altered state. You just need to be more respectful of yourself and the plant.
How does cannabis affect the body physically? Does it affect balance?
Yes, it does impair balance – but what is so bad about that? You can moderate your practice by putting your hand on the wall or do an easier variation.
It’s actually good for the ego, to give yourself some space and leeway to be less than perfect – to have a good time and be in the present moment which is what yoga is about. It’s not about mastering the poses: it feels good to do that, but it’s not the main point.
If you can usually do a dancer’s pose on the left foot, with cannabis you might have to do a variation; you get to redefine your poses and redefine your practice. That being said, people have to be okay with toppling over a little bit! In my classes we don’t do anything dangerous where you are going to fall in a big way, so you can relax and have a playful time.
How do you personally incorporate cannabis into your day? What’s your favorite method and brands?
Day to day, I prefer dabbing and my favorite concentrate is Seasonal Harvest Co. With edibles, as I mentioned, it’s Moonman’s Mistress. And, of course, for sungrown flower it’s Flow Kana.
My favorite topical is Topicana. Sometimes topicals can be greasy, which works for a massage. But this one is really absorbent, getting into the skin.
I have a personal connection to a lot of my favorite brands. I am becoming more and more invested in knowing farmers and artisanal small-scale farms. I do my best to find companies that are doing their best with triple batch-testing, certifications and farming practices that are healthy for us and for the planet.
What is your preferred place to get high while not at Ganja Yoga?
Either on my foam roller at home massaging my fascia and tissues or going for a hike with my partner, either using a joint or a vape pen to keep it kind of chill. Both of us also use CBD topicals medicinally.
Dream Ganja Yoga scenario?
This would be a beautiful home space full of sun and warmth; enjoying the pool, hot tub, sauna and yoga. I need the sun. I think I’m genetically tropical. Perhaps I could be in Greece with their beautiful tropical waters and the white buildings around. I would just smoke one. Probably I’d be smoking a doob and I’d get back to basics, not the techno things we have in the Bay Area. I’d be alone doing my sunset yoga practice on my private beach or an island of Greece. Maybe my partner is in a hotel waiting for me!
What is the future for you and Ganja Yoga?
I recently launched an expansion of classes into Oakland. Now we have four classes in the Bay Area, and at the end of November we will be launching two weekly classes in LA. We have been partnering with more health-forward companies. We get to be the messenger to people by providing this high-quality, health-forward cannabis.
My book has been out for six months. I did a thirteen city book tour with it, and I will be providing Ganja Yoga teacher training in January, which will be for certified teachers with the ganja element. It will be a chance to refine your yoga practice with postural aspects and alignment based work. I will also be offering a longer teacher training this spring for people that aren’t certified.
For more information, or to order Dee’s book, visit Dee Dussault’s website: https://www.theganjayoga.com/