Ganja Yoga opens in Oakland

Rebecca Olmos,

When you arrive to the Ganja Yoga studio in Oakland, you’re welcomed by Jess Dugan, the instructor for the class. Candles are lit, refreshments are offered, and so is a tray of complimentary cannabis products.

For $25 Ganja Yoga offers students a 30 minute social before and after an hour-long yoga practice. This also includes complimentary pre-rolled joints, borrowed vape pens and edibles.  You can rent a mat for $2 if you need one. The first 30 minutes before the yoga starts is a “stoner social”. This is when students socialize and get to know of one another. If you choose to you can spark your joints or hit your vape pens.

During my recent visit, some students were trying Ganja Yoga for the first time, some were regulars, some had come with friends, others had come by themselves, and for some it was their first time trying yoga. Students are from all over and represent the diversity of the Bay Area. You’re not required to smoke or get high. It is advised that for your first time, you are cautious of the amount you choose to consume. Once the social is over, Dugan introduces herself and tells us what she is grateful for that day. The students do the same. Then you yoga.

In 1996 California passed Prop 215, which legalized medical marijuana usage, sales, and growth. The law required a person to have a medical marijuana card issued by a licensed physician stating you had a medical reason to consume, buy, grow or sell cannabis.

However, in November 2016 California passed Prop 64 which legalized recreational marijuana. This means that you no longer need a medical reason to smoke weed. Beginning in 2018, California will begin issuing business licenses to allow the sale of recreational marijuana.

For now, Prop 64 allows you possess, smoke, and share up to an ounce of weed. It also allows users to smoke at businesses licensed for the on-site consumption of marijuana and at private residence. Before Prop 64 students attending Ganja Yoga need to have their medical marijuana card to attend. Now students don’t need a card to attend the classes.

Now that a medical marijuana card is not needed the number of students attending Ganja Yoga in San Francisco has doubled. According to an article published in January this year by Business Insider, attendance went from 10-15 students to the maximum capacity of 25 per class. Founder of Ganja Yoga, Dee Dussalt says it’s not uncommon for her students to travel from all over the Bay. Sometimes they’re traveling up to an hour in traffic to attend classes.

In order to accommodate the growing number of students, classes are now offered at a second location in Oakland. Every Tuesday and Thursday anyone over the age of 21 can now attend these cannabis-infused yoga sessions in the East Bay.  

Yoga is known to have a variety of health and wellness benefits. It can be used to tone and strengthen the body, as well as help lower levels of stress and anxiety.

Ganja Yoga combines yoga with consumption of marijuana in hopes of enhancing the physical and mental benefits. Dussault explains that relaxation is the most common benefit expressed by students. They are better able to quiet their mind and be more present in the practice.

The second benefit she observed is the sense of community. Dussault commented that her students have been able to “come out of the green closet.” Many students admit to smoking weed before doing yoga all the time, but in the privacy of their own homes. Ganja Yoga has offered them a place to meet with other local individuals who believe in the benefits of yoga and cannabis.

The moves in the class I attended were designed for all levels of yoga students. As we moved through practice, Dugan walked by to offer assistance and words of guidance.  The lights were dimmed and soft music was played. In the background you could hear the Oakland traffic passing by. We focused on the breath. We moved at our own pace as we shifted through the usual yoga poses; Child’s pose, a cat/cow flow, forward fold, mountain pose, downward dog, and others.  

When I’m practicing yoga at home I’m constantly checking the clock to see how much time is left.  At Ganja Yoga, I was so immersed in the practice I was pleasantly surprised when we reached the final pose of Savasana. I was relaxed and calm. I focused on the relief each pose brought me rather than the physical shape. When I entered the studio, I was holding my breath, and carrying the stress of daily life on my shoulders. When I left I was centered, my body was aligned and I had returned to the natural rhythm of my breath.

Ganja Yoga isn’t the only cannabis-infused activity to come to the Bay Area. For California marijuana users, Prop 64 opens the doors to many cannabis friendly activities.

In the Bay Area there is cannabis-infused paint and art classes, cannabis-infused vegan cooking classes, cannabis private dinner parties, and even whole courses dedicated to teaching people how to start up a cannabis business.

If you’re interested in trying out Ganja Yoga, tickets are available through their website