With extensive experience in both cannabis advocacy and yoga instruction, Katherine “Kitty” Harris teaches classes and holds workshops in her local area in Colorado. As one of the few certified Ganja Yoga instructors, Kitty helps others “explore and enjoy [their] connection to the body” through cannabis infused yoga flows and practices. In college, Kitty was first introduced to yoga and became a passionate marijuana advocate working to challenge negative cannabis stigmas. On her channel, SecretStashGanjaYoga, Kitty uploads yoga flow videos as well as both gentle and energizing guided meditations.
In this Creator sPOTlight, I speak to Kitty about the shift to virtual events following the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, how she is channeling her work to support Black Lives Matter, her history with ganja and yoga, and how meditation, yoga, and marijuana can help you “[find] that balance and connection to all things in your life by using one of the many paths available.”
RJ: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions today! With everything going on in the world today, how have you been doing?
Katherine: With the many events going on in the world today, I find myself doing my best to go with the ebb and flow of what life brings and the emotions that may be associated with these events. Myself, like many others have become more mindful, aware, and creative of how we are choosing to stay connected, safe, and healthy. I am thankful to know and have witnessed a community here in my state and those in the bigger collective that have shown some much love and support in challenging times.
RJ: You are a cannabis activist and certified “Ganja Yoga” instructor with 250 hours of training. Can you tell me more about what ganja yoga involves and how you got started with yoga and cannabis advocacy?
Katherine: Ganja Yoga is a chance to combine a proven plant medicine with the anatomy of the body and spirit. It is a positive option that can help you explore and enjoy your connection to the body. Ganja Yoga is also a community of teachers that encourages a safe and friendly environment for those looking to learn not only about cannabis, but about themselves. A chance to connect to other like minded individuals with that come from all backgrounds that found a common ally in the cannabis plant. Class styles vary depending on the instructor, but you can typically find more gentle classes that allow you a chance to slow down and with a heady vibe.
I am a former collegiate athlete and have played sports a majority of my life and along the way I was introduced to yoga. I was attracted to the more physical attributes of yoga, basically wanting to stay in shape. It wasn’t till further into my journey I realized the value that lies within my personal yoga practice. While in college where I was introduced to yoga, I also took to my first fight against the cannabis stigma. A teammate of mine was caught with paraphernalia related to cannabis and was set to lose her scholarship and be kicked out of school. We started a petition and did our best to educate the community along the way. Unfortunately our fight was not strong enough for the school board and she ultimately lost. But this event lit the fire to my cannabis advocacy and from then on cannabis continued to play a major piece on my life journey and still does to this day.
RJ: I understand that you lead Ganja Yoga classes as well as workshops and events in Colorado. How were your classes affected by the coronavirus pandemic? Have you shifted to virtual events as many have?
Katherine: Unfortunately classes were affected like most businesses during the Covid lockdown. We have been unable to host any in person classes. Our last in-person class was at the beginning of March. So, yes, because of this set back, I have been offering more online options such as free videos on WeedTube and paid virtual classes. I am definitely grateful for the chance to go virtual and reach more people via our online options! I plan to continue doing virtual classes, as things slowly start to come back to in-person.
RJ: On Sunday, June 21st, in honor of International Yoga Day and the Summer Solstice, you held an online Ganja Yoga class with 100% of the proceeds going to National Bail Out Fund and Color of Change OrganizationTell me how the event went and what it meant for you to raise funds in support of Black Lives Matter.
Katherine: This event ran so smoothly! We had 11 different teachers that transitioned flawlessly from one instructor to the next. Each Ganja Yoga certified instructor led a 30 minute class that was dedicated to showing our solidarity to our Black community and our brothers and sisters of color. We provided guided movement, mediations, education and support through each unique class.
As a female of color in the cannabis industry, I am proud to be a part of a group of teachers who have a loving moral compass, an appetite for change, and a passion for the people and nature around them. Being able to use our voice and platform to raise funds and awareness to this movement is just a reminder of how powerful we all are when we come together and how much we can truly help each other when we remember we are in this together.
RJ: In one of your recent videos, you spoke about the different aspects of yoga. You mentioned that the asanas, or poses, are an integral component to yoga, but so is the tool of meditation. How do the two work together during yoga?
Katherine: Movement and meditation can go hand in hand. ‘Yoga’ means ‘union’ or ‘to yoke’, which is finding that balance and connection to all things in your life by using one of the many paths available. Typically when we are in motion and going through the poses or flow, we experience a form of concentration or focus that we tend to get lost in. Once we become aware of this focus we can use it as a tool to link to our inner dialogue and sort through emotions or feelings that may be brought up. The act of meditation can be experienced through many different forms like music, running, painting, exercise, cannabis, etc. It is easier said than done at times and like any muscle it requires repetition and practice to receive more of the benefits it has to offer. These poses and flows allow you a chance to tap into your mindfulness, to train or notice where your attention is going, which can over time lead to achieving a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. With meditation and yoga you are creating a union between mind, body and soul.
RJ: In that same video, you elaborated on the words of Dee Dussault’s book “Ganja Yoga,” which helps one select the right strains, settings, cannabis consumption methods and poses for them. Yoga also has various forms, from vinyasa to hatha, ashtanga, yin and more.
Katherine: Yes, the Ganja Yoga Book by Dee is a great resource for those looking to gain more insight and understanding on what yoga and cannabis looks like in the world today, and how you can pair them together. This book is a great reminder that you are not alone and that there are many people who are shy or not comfortable about sharing their cannabis use or knowledge of yoga. It’s a wonderful way to explore all concepts related to the plant, body, soul connection.
RJ: Throughout the practice of yoga and meditation, “negative” feelings such as uncomfort, frustration, anger, sadness and others can be brought to the surface. How important is it not to run from those feelings but to experience and acknowledge them? Do you think it takes the bad to know the good, or that it takes going through the darkness to see the light?
Katherine: The dark sky is the space in which the stars burn bright against. So yes, I do believe that we live in a world where we have to acknowledge the bad to appreciate the good things. Running from negative emotions only prolongs the suffering you may feel. When we sit with those feelings, regardless if we have the answer or are confused and scared, we provide a space for those emotions to transform, to speak what's truly on our heart without holding back. It may not be in that moment you notice the positive processing taking place, it could be months or years later you truly understand what took place, but we must be first willing to sit in the darkness and see what shows up, in order to release and open ourselves to the love that’s there.
RJ: While yoga and meditation are often used to center the mind, marijuana can sometimes invoke paranoia and anxiety in certain people, under certain circumstances. What is your advice to someone when they might be experiencing anxious feelings during a sesh or ganja yoga practice?
Katherine: Ahh yes, sometimes ganja can cause a sense of anxiety or paranoia, but just like meditation, it could be a great time to begin to explore what thoughts and emotions you are focusing on. What triggered you? What are you really worried about? How did it arise? These intense feelings can sometimes make way for some inner discovery and social breakthroughs. It can also be a chance to practice the power of breath work to help soothe the system. But if you are in a sesh or ganja yoga practice, I say the best policy is honesty. Let the people around you or your teacher know what you may be experiencing. I have not been in one situation where no empathy was shown, typically people are willing to help and may have even better tips for calming down or getting them through it then me. Always have water and even some CBD to hand to help balance out your THC ratio. Take is slow and remember you control the narrative of your high.
RJ: Kitty, thank you again for your time. I am grateful for you.
Katherine: Thank you so much RJ for reaching out and your interest in learning more about Secret Stash Yoga and how Ganja Yoga can be a resource for all people! I am so grateful for the chance to share my story and love for the plant, body, soul connection with TheWeedTube community!