As the cannabis movement gains traction across the United States and beyond, people from all walks of life are being introduced to the plant for the first time.

That’s why it’s so essential that they “understand how to use it with respect”, according to Ganjasana founder Rachael Carlevale. And perhaps the best way to do that, she surmises, is through another ancient practice – yoga.

“The practice of yoga – from the way we move our bodies to the way in which we breathe – really provides the key tools to help us develop a relationship with the plant medicine,” says Carlevale, herself a cancer survivor who relied on cannabis during her illness.

“That’s why it’s so important to understand how to build that deeper connection with the plant... The practice of [cannabis yoga] helps us heal and realign with the natural cycles within nature and really understand how plant medicine can help us live our most powerful lives.”

At its core, this is the mission of Ganjasana; the Colorado-based program that combines ganja (a term with Sanskrit roots used for cannabis) and asana (another Sanskrit word depicting yoga postures.) For whatever ails you, the program promises a “transformative experience honoring the wisdom of the natural world.”

This fall, Carlevale plans to open an official Ganjasana school, where students will learn to “deepen alignment of body, mind and spirit with the master cannabis plant through the practices of yoga, meditation and mindfulness.”

Rachael Carlevale Ganjasana Cannabis Mala by Jeff Skeirik for Cosmic Sister 2001

Ganjasana Founder Rachael Carlevale with sandalwood Chakra Cannabis Mala from LovePray Jewelry with a handcrafted silver fan leaf pendant by Pete Conder. Photo by Jeff Skeirik for Cosmic Sister

“I think that when we look at yoga and its roots in ayurvedic medicine, we can start to bring our bodies into a state in which we can find that medicine from the plant,” says Carlevale, referring to the ancient holistic healing system that believes health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between mind, body and spirit.

This is just one of the guiding principles of Ganjasana, which also purports that “the quality of the plant medicine is of utmost importance.”

Ganjasana uses only its own cannabis, which is grown in organic soil via regenerative agricultural practices. In doing this, says Carlevale, “you’re not only growing your plants in the safest way possible, but it’s the safest way for the environment as you have no pesticide run-off and it regenerates the soil.”

“Not all cannabis is created equal,” says Carlevale, adding that, “if you use known carcinogens to extract your plant medicine, then it’s not going to have the type of effects you’re looking for when you think about cannabis as a medicine.”

“For us, where you source your medicine and knowing your farmer is very important. In our case, we are the farmer, so we’re able to give that deep immersion into the education regarding how the plant is cultivated, how it’s extracted, and how it gets right there with you.”

This will be a major element of the Ganjasana school, set to start offering continuing education for yoga instructors in Longmont, Colorado come October. Along with “practicing right in the ganja fields”, students will also have plenty of opportunities to get their hands dirty.

Rachael Carlevale Yoga by Jeff Skeirik by Jeff Skeirik for Cosmic Sister 2000

Ganjasana Founder Rachael Carlevale. Photo by Jeff Skeirik for Cosmic Sister.

“The school also has a greenhouse, so you get to see the plants in every stage of growth, from the nursery to vegetation to flower,” says Carlevale. “It’s so important to understand how the plant grows before you lead a class where you are responsible for people who are under the influence of this powerful, sacred plant.

“We’re going to have a lot of education around permaculture and how to create living organic soil... Our goal is to empower other yoga instructors with the knowledge to bring this practice to their local communities.”

The Ganjasana schools will open its doors on Oct. 13, 2017.

Banner image: Ganjasana Founder Rachael Carlevale. Photo by Jeff Skeirik for Cosmic Sister.