Lighting Up the Ganjasana: 10 Questions for Rachael Carlevale
This article originally appeared on Yoganonymous.com
Rachael Carlevale, founder of Ganjasana, views plants as the guru. She helps students deepen their relationship with plant spirit, using creative teaching techniques inspired by her plant studies with the Shamans of the Shipibo tribe in Peru.
She gave us a one-on-one exclusive on how to make the most of your Ganjasana practice, which blends asanas with the healing plant medicine of cannabis. Here's what she had to say...
Q: What strain of cannabis do you use for your classes?
A: I have been experimenting with a variety of heirloom cultivars, getting to know them, the way they like to grow, and how they respond to the body, mind, and spirit. One of my all time favorites is Holy Headband (Big Sur Holy X Headband). It's grown with Permalos, and bred by Coastal Seeds.
Q: Which creates a better experience: Smoking or eating edibles before class?
A: It depends on how that particular Ganjasana class is structured. There are a variety of different ways we can approach our relationship with plant medicine. Use all of your senses to ‘get to know’ the plant: introducing yourself to her, feeling her leaves, taking in her aroma… Sometimes just smelling her scentis enough to feel the medicine. Share space with the plant, listen, respond.
Q: How far in advance do you recommend people ingest cannabis before class?
A: Again, it really depends on a few factors. How experienced are the students? How strong is the ganja? How was it infused and what is the delivery mechanism (food, capsule, tincture, coconut oil). It's different for everyone. Be mindful of your own tolerance levels, and the way in which your body responds to the medicine.
Q: For those who can't make it to a Ganjasana class, how do you recommend they partake in their own do-it-at-home version?
A: Ganjasana begins by sourcing regenerative cannabis, and then finding a safe place to practice yoga. Work with regenerative cannabis, which is grown naturally. That way, you will be able to harness symbiotic relationships with living soil.
Regenerative cannabis is cannabis grown in living systems that helps the entire ecosystem become healthier, more resilient, more biodiverse, and more bountiful with time—which ultimately requires less farming energy, and fewer resources to manage.
Knowing your cannabis farmer, the ingredients, materials, and environment used in the cultivation process are as important as knowing the farmers who grow your food. The holistic, permaculture-style communities out there are solid and growing, which widens the opportunity to access consciously grown, regenerative cannabis. It's a win-win for us all—the environment, its inhabitants, and it breeds some of the cleanest, tastiest ganja you will ever find.
As you start your own Ganjasana practice: Start with slow and small solutions, keep it simple, and let yourself surrender to the message living-soil grown cannabis is sharing with you.
Q: Is there any particular style of yoga that best fits with a Ganjasana practice? (ie. Yin? Hatha?)
A: Ganjasana was founded under the principals of modeling nature to build authentic plant relationships—from seed to soil to spirit. It's based off of the Shipibo Shaman plant teachings, and draws from many practices of yoga including pranayama, hatha, nidra, yin, meditation, and mindfulness.
Q: What should practitioners be most mindful of during their first Ganjasana experience?
A: It is advisable for practitioners to show up, and by that I mean beyond our physical realm. To mentally, emotionally, spiritually show up. Allow yourself to be present, and hold space for deepened plant experiences to occur. You will only hear her messages if you choose to listen.
Q: Do you bless the ganja prior to smoking/consuming?
A: Every moment of the ceremony is a blessing, honoring the relationship with cannabis plant medicine. Cannabis holds ancient powerful wisdom that we are only beginning to understand. She is one of the most versatile medicinal herbs, greatly respected by our ancestors.
Q: We see that you are primarily doing events in Boulder, are there any plans to take Ganjasana elsewhere in 2016, or 2017?
A: We will be offering sessions coast to coast in all legal and medical states. Ganjasana is all about plant spirit medicine, which all plants, including cannabis, posses.
Q: Who was the person you had in mind when developing Ganjasana classes?
A: The practice of Ganjasana was born organically out of a need to heal my own suffering, and is accessible to everyone. Yoga, regenerative cannabis, and a healthy lifestyle saved my life. With the success of my personal experience, and the healing I’ve seen in others using Ganjasana, it was time to share it with the world!
Q: Do you recommend Ganjasana for everyone?
A: As the law permits, Ganjasana is available to adults of legal age in recreational cannabis markets and to medical card holders in accordance with state and local regulations.
Q: What advice do you have for those who experience extreme anxiety after ingesting THC?
A: It really depends—if you are anxious to begin with, unsure about the plant, meeting cannabis with fear and stress, then the plant may just not be for you (or it may not be your time). Feelings of anxiousness could be related to the specific genetic cultivar you are using, chemicals used in the cultivation process like herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, or improper curing that may have resulted in contaminants like mold. These are just a few of the many reasons it is critical to know exactly how your cannabis was bred, cultivated, maintained, harvested, and processed before consuming it.
A quick way to relieve anxiousness in general is to prolong your exhalation. This jumps your nervous system out of the ‘fight-or-flight,’ sympathetic nervous system, and brings you back into the ‘rest-and-digest,’ parasympathetic nervous system. This invites in peace and calmness. Breathe in for four breaths, hold for four breaths, breath out for eight breaths. Repeat. Smile. It’s really all about learning how to surrender.
Q: How can someone become a Ganjasana teacher?
A: We are in the process of working on studio space for future trainings. As we mindfully navigate the current regulatory framework for cannabis, we will be sure to keep everyone informed of our progress.
Thanks for the info, Rachael!