Book Review – Read Here.
Book Review – Read here.
Images courtesy Dee Dussault, Ganja Yoga
As seen on:
This year, I didn’t celebrate 4/20 baked on a couch watching The Big Lebowski—instead, I decided to combine my love for cannabis and yoga. With proof of a California medical marijuana card at the door, I was able to enjoy my flow while under the influence at the Merchants of Reality art space in downtown San Francisco. As a usual hard-core yogi who gets off attempting handstands and gravity-defying arm balances, I skipped the feats of strength and learned a valuable lesson that night: it’s important to slow down, relax, and simply enjoy the present moment.
That’s exactly what founder Dee Dussault had in mind when she created Ganja Yoga for the Bay Area. I talked with Dee to learn more about her cannabis-enhanced yoga lessons:
BN: How did you get Ganja Yoga started?
DD: I’ve been doing yoga since I was pretty young. I’m from a small town in Ontario, and growing up, none of the scientific studies had started on the health and medicinal benefits of cannabis. Once the scientific literature started coming out, that was it for me. I got exposed to it in the mid-2000’s and learned that it changes your consciousness—for example, alcohol gets you relaxed with maybe a buzz, but cannabis is actually a medicine and cures. I started doing classes in Canada, starting in the medicinal field, and then opened it up to recreational users, and found that it’s not just designed for people in pain; it’s for everybody.
“I’ve had several people come up to me after and say it’s the most relaxed they’ve been in their whole life.”
Cannabis has been used in all different cultures, in spiritual traditions to help people realize a spiritual truth and feel more at peace or self-realized. If people from China and Celtic Europe are using it to expand their consciousness and connect to a higher source, there must be something to it, right?
How did you get this started in the Bay Area?
I started teaching classes at Merchants of Reality in September of last year. Even in my sober classes, where it’s just a regular yoga class, it’s really important to me personally and politically that people experience yoga in a way that’s not about the “yoga body” or the “yoga butt.” Although doing yoga will give you a healthy body, it’s about bringing awareness to breathing and becoming more relaxed. The concentration and mindfulness practices will help your mind be still and you’ll feel more relaxed and more amazing than you’ve ever felt.
What changes do you see in your students after a class?
You can feel a palpable change in the energy at the end of class and I’ve had several people come up to me after and say it’s the most relaxed they’ve been in their whole life. I can just retire now.
Who comes to your classes?
I’ve had people come in wheel chairs, beginners, abundant-bodied people, older-bodied people, the young, able-bodied types…all kinds.
What are some tips you’d give to a first-time Ganja Yoga student?
If someone is coming to a class of mine, I would say it’s natural to feel a little nervous, no matter what your previous experience with yoga is or how much pot you use. Merchants of Reality is kind of an overwhelming art space, there is a lot to process, so I would usually advise people to consume less cannabis than they might usually use (like you would getting high at home with friends), because you can always add more halfway through the class, but you can never add less. You don’t want to be really baked out and unable to focus. We’re kind of re-writing what mindful cannabis use is—you don’t need to take a huge dab every time, you can just take a few puffs of a vaporizer in a yoga practice.
For strains, I’d recommend a hybrid (indica and sativa), because they both have really great qualities related to yoga. Sativa can give you a nice energetic feeling and you can really feel your blood pulsing and the aliveness of your body, and the indica can help you feel really relaxed. You kind of want both because too much sativa might make you overly mentally stimulated and the indica might make you too lazy do to the poses.
For those who don’t have Ganja Yoga available in their area, what are some tips if they want to do this at home?
Lots of people think of yoga and they think of a harder-type pose, like a pretzel that a skinny person or dancer body could do, but truthfully yoga has thousands and thousands of options and poses and stretches and you can make up your own yoga or just lay there and feel good or dance—improvise!
Don’t try the hardest pose especially if you’ve never done yoga before and don’t try to accomplish something from getting a lot of likes on Instagram. Maybe look up beginner yoga, then get high and really master the beginner stuff: the mindfulness, the breathing, the beginner postures. And then you can start to add cannabis-enhanced intermediate postures several months later. There’s so much to gain by laying down and doing more beginner poses and I find even advanced yoga practitioners say they love ganja yoga because it slows them down and really gets back to basics. I’m an advocate for chill yoga, especially when cannabis enhanced.
To learn more about Dee Dassault’s yoga classes, which also include tantric and naked yoga, visit her website at http://www.deedussault.com.
We are a tribe. Connected with the plants and the animals and the stars. One is not greater than the other — we are all One. Breathing, taking and giving, life. In and out. Dusk to dawn. Birth and death. The cycle always flows. We must support one another, give when it’s called for, and receive when it’s time. The water of life flows through each and every one of us, up from the soils of the Earth, pulsating through our veins with the steady drum of our beating hearts, up through our crown into the sky, where our mothers and fathers fly.
Oh Great Spirit, with the wind at your feet and your feathers glowing a multitude of colors, with swift wings to take flight, and a heart that heals our planet, may we be like you; to give our gifts, and sing our song. The ferries, the nymphs, the angels, the gods, forever singing and dancing our planet into existence and evolution, changing and growing more beautiful with every tune. Teach us how to fly. Spread our wings. Embrace our power. Show up fully, ever present.
Celestial Beings that we are — let us always grow in love, release attachments, and swim in the seas of the love eternal. For when more souls join in the song, the One body can transform our planet into Love, our universe, for all eternity. The music lives on.
Dance with the fire
A dance with the outer world
Drink in the sun, and dance with the moon
You are a child of Mother Nature
Take advantage of her beautiful gifts
I am fire. Spirited, wild, passionate — free.
I create. I lead. I am a vessel to the divine to come and play.
I am a muse: dancing, writing, singing and bleeding the world.
The collective human experience: I feel it all.
Joy, sorrow, anger, jealousy, guilt, lust & love.
Don’t fight what’s here. Dance in it. Feel it all. It’s a safe space.
Music is the universal language that unites our souls
without us even having to know one another or the words.
It’s a high expression of love, of feeling. Create more music. Be it. Live it.
Love is the music of the heart. And it’s always there.
You don’t need to seek it. Just ask for it: be it.
Sing your beautiful song, and you do not need permission.
The blue is the sea, the introspective, the heartbreakingly sad, the quiet, the deep.
When it sings its beautiful melody, it’s the most beautiful song ever heard.
Let her speak.
Enlightenment – it’s not just for the bodhisattvas, the monks sworn to silence, or your devout, church-going Grandmother. The secret to attaining enlightenment is that anyone and everyone can do it and what’s even more surprising: it’s simple.
But how, you ask, is it simple to fast for 40 days just to speak to ‘God?’ or completing a 500-hour yoga teacher training, or doing 10,000 downward dogs and upward dogs, or going on a strict vegan diet and swearing off drugs and alcohol (the horror!), or having a non-office job and living off the beaten path in a cabin in the woods? Not necessary, my friend.
You see, what people don’t realize is that enlightenment is simple. It’s free, and guess what: we already have it.
Buddha’s definition of enlightenment was simple: “The end of suffering.”
Ok, cool. But you’re probably thinking, ‘How is that possible when there is death and disease and war and rape and crime going on at every second of every day? How can I not suffer when I have neck pain, or that I am worried something might happen to my children, or how some people seem to have things easy and others struggle?’
That, we cannot calculate. There is no answer, or reason. It’s the flow of life, the yin and the yang. A manifestation of what we believe – but that’s a whole different topic for another time. What we do know about enlightenment is this: you don’t need to be fixed. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with you. The real ‘you’ is already there, even if it’s underneath 10,000 layers of debris. The whole part about it is clearing out that debris to uncover the real you.
A wise shaman once said, “It’s not about becoming who you are, it’s about unbecoming who you’re not.” So what that means is, we can spend years and miles around the world and failed relationships and crappy jobs to ‘find ourselves’ or we can simply clear the debris of what isn’t ours to let our true selves shine through. To literally ‘clean the windows’ of our bodies and souls to reveal our 100 percent true authentic selves, without any masques, labels or baggage that we brought from the past or what others have placed upon us.
The key here is to clear the debris. So how do you do that? There are endless ways: energy healing, praying, meditation, journaling, reading spiritual books, laughing or simply asking and giving more love, each and every day. Because the essence of everything, and I mean absolutely everything, is love. So when we ask to bring more love into our lives—love for ourselves, for our partners, for our families and friends, and love to everyone else out there we don’t even know—we’ll receive in back tenfold. That’s just the way quantum physics works: like attracts like.
Where do you start? When do you start? How about now. How about you ask yourself how. Sit in meditation and see what comes up. And understand; it’s not a race. The answers may not come to you in a day, within weeks, months or a year, or they may never come to you at all, like you had wished. But you will definitely get something back, and it will be more than you had ever fathomed or thought or asked for because it is so beautiful no human mind could conceive it.
So take out the old dust mop and rag and start clearing the debris—it’s time to find out who you are really are, and who you really aren’t. The world is waiting to meet your lovely, shiny soul.
Did you know that self-help programs have a 97 percent failure rate? The self-help industry—valued at $10 billion a year in the US alone—is extremely profitable for good reason: people continue to come back year after year in hopes that this year will be the one when their lives will change.
What’s the reason for this high failure rate? In his book Beyond Willpower: The Secret Principle to Achieving Success in Life, Love, and Happiness (Harmony Books), author Alexander Loyd, PhD, ND, explains it very simply: most self-help programs are based on the same three-step “blueprint for failure”:
Focus on what you want.
Figure out a plan to get there.
Put the plan into action.
And why doesn’t this formula work? Because willpower alone, which is fear-based, doesn’t get us what we really want. What does? Love.
In this revolutionary book, Loyd explains how he has helped thousands of people transform their lives, using simple, research-driven techniques that anyone can use at home. Here is an excerpt that describes what he calls the Greatest Principle and how it works:
Most people live their whole lives believing some external result is what they really want. Many people go after a dozen or two in their lifetime, thinking each time that “this one will do it for me.” Realizing that you’ve spent the best resources of your life on a lie can be a shocking and even devastating experience. You may have given up your youth, your money, your relationships, your energy, and your health to pursue “the thing” you thought you wanted most—only to discover not only that it isn’t what you really want most, but that it actually led you away from what you did want most. Perhaps you’ve discovered that you have believed the lie the vast majority of our culture also believes: external circumstances purchase the internal state of love and peace.
On the other hand, if you are among the small segment that answered question number 1 with an inward state, let me be the first to congratulate you. You are truly in the top percentile of what I believe is the most important metric for success. However, that doesn’t mean you have achieved the internal state. You don’t tend to want something you already have. If you already had the inward state of love and peace, you probably would have answered the genie question with something like, “I don’t wish for anything. I have everything I need and want. Maybe more love and peace.”
Whether you’ve just discovered that the internal state is your ultimate success goal or whether you’ve known it for a long time, the tools and process of the Greatest Principle are how you’re going to get it. As a concept, the Greatest Principle is actually very simple: it means doing the opposite of what ignites your stress response. Specifically, you need to give up your expectation of a specific and future end result attained by willpower, and instead focus on creating the internal state that is the power source for your external circumstances. Here’s another way to put it in more practical terms:
Do whatever you do from an inward state of love, focusing on the present moment.
That’s it. That’s the Greatest Principle. I know, this is chapter 1. But now I’ve walked you through all the background information you will need to fully understand why the typical success blueprint doesn’t work, and why this theory and application does. Living in love while focusing on the present moment is all you have to do to achieve the most success imaginable, in every life area—the perfect success for you.
I was at the mall a couple of weeks ago when BAM! An army of plaid hit me in the face. POW! Leather platform lace-up boots marched up and IN-YOUR-FACE torn-up denim jackets were on display in every window. I couldn’t help but smile at my long-lost love — the ’90s. Who would have thought a resurgence of pink hair, oversized plaid button-ups or Birkenstocks would feel like coming home? Me. I’m the type of girl where hair brushes are reserved for post-shower detangling only; a tool never to be used during my morning routine. (I favor 30 minutes of sleep over primping any day). I couldn’t be happier that this grungy, tomboy look is in again. In fact, I’m totally embracing it.
Many monumental things took place during this liberating era: The Internet was born, Drew Barrymore was America’s sweetheart, Johnny and Kate were a couple (!!!) and rap was actually worth listening to (sorry–but today’s aggravating hip hop just doesn’t do it for me). Although not exactly at the age to sport my Alanis Morissette angst, I spent school nights watching Doug Funnie and Chuckie Finster embarrass themselves, looked forward to Blockbuster trips on Fridays and laughed with — not at — Amanda Bynes. [Really, Amanda, what happened??] I had an unhealthy obsession with Leonardo DiCaprio when Titanic released, played limbo at roller skate night and willingly donned a black plastic choker. (That’s something I WILL NOT be doing this time around). I was a full-blown ’90s kid.
Things I’m looking forward to wearing this fall: wooly plaid, small hoop earrings, combat boots, crop tops, small backpacks, dainty jewelry, boyfriend jeans and dark lips. Oh, and stocking caps/beanies!
Here are some of my favorite tunes from growing up: this will surely get you on the ’90s bandwagon if you’re not already. Who doesn’t love some sex and candy, and can we really get a man on the moon?! Listen to the full playlist here.
1. “Mother We Just Can’t Get Enough” – New Radicals
2. “Linger” – The Cranberries
3. “Insane in the Brain” – Cypress Hill
4. “Poison” – Bell Biv DeVoe
5. “Groove is in the Heart” – Dee-Lite
6. “Follow You Down” – Gin Blossoms
7. “Don’t Speak” – No Doubt
8. “2 Become 1” – Spice Girls
9. “Run-Around” – Blues Traveler
10. “Sex and Candy” – Marcy Playground
With my chronic travel itch and curiosity, I always seem to be scouting out the next best place to visit or live. May this California-inspired post bring you warmth and joy in this seemingly endless cold season.
Every year I read up on–and greatly envy–Coachella goers. Currently in between the music festival’s first and second weekend, I avidly peruse fashion blogs to see who wore what; which usually involves some sort of Native American or 1960s-inspired garb. Listening to amazing music while strolling around in California weather dressed as a hippie with no shame? Have we met?
Newest band on rotation–Family of the Year. It’s as if this indie-pop group was dug up straight from California soil during the Civil Rights era. Think The Drums meets The Mamas & the Papas. Be sure to check out “Hero” and “St. Croix”.
After some recent news of several food intolerances and truly being sick of feeling sick, I have had to completely makeover my diet. And to that, much of it involves preparing food at home and possibly–gasp–cooking. Thank God for cook books! Sprouted Kitchen delivers daily recipes, tips and tricks for delectably healthy eating. I just bought the recipe book and can’t wait to get tasting!
Gorgeous shot that features the perfect red lip. My current favorite: Laura Mercier “Scarlet” lip stain for a slightly more subdued/burgundy tone.
I’ve been to most major cities in the U.S.: LA, DC, Miami and even took a stab at NYC for a whole year and a half. But never have I been to San Francisco–a place where I might just think would be my perfect city. I just planned a 9-day trip for my birthday late in the summer and I couldn’t be more excited. A big city with a laid back attitude may be just what I need for my next adventure, or maybe even, my next residence. xx
Ah, I feel like spring is finally here. Even though it snowed almost a foot nearly a week ago, I’m going to stay optimistic about the gorgeous convertible weather we had today (Kansas City is such an unpredictable bastard). This also gets me excited about the summer: planning on plenty of concerts and a trip to NY and San Francisco!! It couldn’t come soon enough. In the meantime though, here is what sparked my interest this week. Enjoy the holiday weekend!
A little tomboy with gladiator sandals? In love.
So this is why ladies of the night were called ‘ladies’. How 1912 did prostitutes. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, March is Women’s History Month.
Carefully curated one-of-a-kind home accessories + blog + North Carolina pop-up shop. Definitely check out Furbishstudio.com.
Ok, so maybe not ultimate fave. But one of. I religiously watched the first season of “Smash” and with new writers, the second has proved to be even better. New York backdrop and the gorgeous new ‘Jimmy’ character, played by Jeremy Jordan (swoon), definitely keeps me watching every week.
This is such an exciting time for our nation. Love this Equality symbol version with the “Peanuts” characters (they make a great couple, don’t they?). It’s about damn time.