Dee Dussault is alive.
From the first breath of her unconventional practices of ganja, clothes-free and sexual awakening yoga, one cannot help but be intrigued. Exploring her website, which explains her self-anointed title of sex educator, relationship coach, certified hatha yoga instructor and tantra practitioner, is more like a psychedelic trip than a casual perusal of the Web. A conversation with her is like taking a backbend into another universe where the simplest acts of human nature ignite and take on completely new postures.
Dussault is the first person to publicly offer cannabis-enhanced yoga classes. Every Monday and Wednesday night since September, a group of 16 or so men and women “smoke up” in the dual art gallery/cannabis collective studio called Merchants of Reality on Ninth Street in San Francisco and set upon personal journeys of self-exploration. With a valid medical marijuana card, or by simply “doing their own thing before class,” students can launch into a mystical experience combining cannabis and the slow movements of hatha yoga.
But that’s not all. Dussault, who does not yet own her own studio but has rather been “pollinating” her unconventional yoga around the Bay Area for the past two years, offers a variety of classes both public and private, ranging from sexual coaching to completely nude yoga. Her sexual coaching, which is sometimes combined with sexual awakening and Tantra yoga, allows people to become more comfortable with their sexuality and “non-normative” sexual experiences. Dussault teaches everything from how to master masturbation to how to orgasm just by breathing. Her clothes-free yoga classes are highly sensual and offer a healing environment for people to come to peace with their bodies.
Dussault is all about continuous exploration, both in our world and within us. She offers a safe and accepting environment for students of all types to experience “trippy self-discovery.”
DC: Could you explain to me the spiritual awakening properties that you believe marijuana possesses?
DD: Yeah, for sure! Obviously, a lot of it depends on both the strain of the particular kind of cannabis that people are consuming, and also the dose makes a really big difference … and the setting, you know, the environment, both inside (and your mood and your energy and your thoughts), but also the environment you find yourself in externally. When the setting and the dose and the strain are all aligned, marijuana alternatives, with or without yoga, has an incredible ability to help people to relax.
Just mentally, it sort of has the ability to turn off parts of the brain that are often times overused in our culture — higher-reasoning parts of the brain. Parts of the brain that are more linked to creativity and intuition or sensuality — like music or dancing or sex. These parts of the brain and these parts of the body are alive with cannabis. Cannabis really lends itself well to those nonlinear, nonproductive ways that we really do need to do more in our culture.
DC: What would you say to the people who claim a spiritual awakening when using weed isn’t a real one because chemicals were used to get there?
DD: I would say that everything that we ingest is base level a chemical. Everything at its base level impacts us. Lemons, for example, may not be considered a psychoactive drug, but smelling lemons can make people feel more alert. If someone said you’re not really alert, the lemon did it for you, we would say that’s kind of silly. (Weed) is a plant that has very few adverse effects if it used consciously and responsibly.
DC: Along the terms of “trippy self-discovery,” what sort of things do you hope your students discover about themselves during ganja yoga?
DD: Well, I mean, I think one of the main things to become aware of is the really rich and constant world of sensory experience that is always happening inside of our bodies: the flow of blood, the movement of limbs, the tingling, the heat, and you know, just the different places that the mind can go — it’s fascinating. People report these kind of psychedelic waves of describing their body when all they’re on is a little of cannabis — which does have psychoactive or psychedelic effects. I think the main part is to help people become more embodied and more tuned into all the phenomena that are happening all the time.
DC: How do you think your clothing-free yoga helps people with their body images?
DD: Those classes allow people a chance to just be naked or be nude, which in itself is just, for many people, very uncommon. Many people are only naked in the shower, and then the minute they get out of the shower, they are clothed, and then they are clothed for 23 and three-quarter hours a day. It helps people realize that what’s really normal or natural is to not have clothes on, and it feels really yummy and freeing, and people often feel really invigorated. They realize — especially in all the public classes, when they see all the different kinds of bodies that are showing up — the diversity of the human form. I think they feel more accepting of their own bodies.
DC: For someone who is very busy, so for like all Berkeley students, what are some things we can do in our sexual life to be happier?
DD: I don’t know if I should go on record telling college students how to have sex … (laughs) … Well, as we do things for the first time, there’s some amount of uncertainty or lack of confidence, and we’re not sure if we’re doing it right and comparing against our peers. I just think for women they should take active responsibility for their sexual needs and their sexual desires and to practice communicating them, even to oneself, in a diary or practicing the words out loud or to female friends and ideally partners of both genders — to really practice asking for what we want and to make our boundaries really clearly known and share them.
DC: You talk about exploration and all this spirituality. Do you find yourself turning more towards spirituality than religion?
DD: Tantra is a spiritual path. It’s not a religion. It’s a spiritual path that allows the use of any human experience. Certain religions might say don’t eat spicy food because the spice will make you passionate, and when you’re passionate you won’t meditate, you’ll want to just dance and masturbate — and of course don’t dance and don’t masturbate and don’t walk around naked and don’t do drugs, don’t have sex. Tantra is like, you can do all that stuff. Anger, fear, boredom, arousal, you name it, every human experience, including psychedelics, are a part of being alive. So, if you’re drawn to them, you can use them, and it can be of spiritual use. So, it’s not a religion, but it’s a way to unite our personal individual consciousness, or identity, with something larger than ourselves. You can make a ritual of it. In many ways, it’s not my religion, but it’s my spiritual path.
DC: What are some ways that you wish the media would change in how it portrays sex?
DD: I think it would be great if sex were portrayed less linearly. For the most part, sex on movies or TV shows has, in many ways, been informed by the sex that is shown in porn. That sex is very linear — some amount of making out happens, you know you’re climbing up the mountain towards more arousal, more genital touching happens (like foreplay, oral sex, that stuff), and then sex is the top of the mountain — intercourse I should say — and then I think in this day and age, men would like women to com,e too, so they climax and ideally at the same time, and then the mountain goes down, and sex is over. But, in reality, sex often has a lot of ups and downs, and I don’t mean good and bad. I mean, sometimes you’re having intercourse, and you switch back to oral sex. Or you’re having intercourse, and you stop for a second and wrestle and giggle and tickle each other for a little bit. This idea that intercourse or orgasm is the top of the mountain and there’s only one mountaintop is a fallacy. There’s other ways of having orgasms just with breathing that don’t even involve genital touching, and they feel just as good — they are kind of incomparable to a genital orgasm, they just feel so different, but they feel so amazing and good and delicious and healing.
DC: Where can we look for healthier ideas of sex?
DD: I mean, if you can, come have a session with me. Come to one of my classes. But if that’s not available, I would just get your hands on some Tantra books, because the way Tantra conceptualizes sexuality can be really mind-opening and mind-blowing. My favorite Tantra book for beginners is called “Urban Tantra,” and the writer — I think she’s local — her name is Barbara Carrellas. Then, if you have friends who are also interested in, I guess you could call it non-normative sexuality, or an expanded sexuality, if you could just get together and talk about it and reinforce each other, like if you’re willing to do something out of the box with your partner and you tell your friends, now you’ve inspired them. Then you become this momentum.
Berkeley students are able to attend ganja yoga every Monday and Wednesday from 7:15-8:45 p.m. at Merchants of Reality (285 Ninth St., San Francisco) for just $10. Also, all private lessons with Dussault will be 50 percent off for UC Berkeley students until the end of April. Cal ID is necessary.
Sarah Adler is a staff writer for The Weekender. Contact her at [email protected]