Each week we highlight entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry for our viewers to learn more about the leading cannabis executives of our time.
This week, we highlight Rachael Carlevale, BS; CYT, Founder of Ganjasana. A trailblazer in the eco-conscious movement, She developed Ganjasana out of a need to heal her body, and to take back the plants medicinal roots; she is proud to share the fruits of her deep insight with others.
Rachael earned her Mindfulness Educator Certification from the Greater Good Institute at UC Berkeley and her Yoga Certification from the Shambhava School of Yoga in 2010. She leads Women’s Red Tent Yoga Workshops, mindfulness meditations, Vinyasa flow yoga classes and is an active member of Volunteers of America. Rachael developed body awareness discipline at the age of four when she began dancing with the Ballet of Boston and is working towards a global sustainable transformation in the way cannabis is cultivated, embodied, consumed and legalized.
In our interview with Rachael, we asked a variety of questions to gain further insight into being a cannabis entrepreneur:
Rachael, it is an honor featuring you as this week’s Entrepreneur of the Week! Please share with our readers a little more about Ganjasana.
Rachael Carlevale: WE OFFER HEALING YOGA CEREMONIES WITH CANNABIS MASTER PLANTS. A transformative experience honoring the wisdom of the natural world. Deepen alignment of body, mind, and spirit with the master cannabis plant through the practices of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Learn tools to build relationships with plant medicine rooted in the ancient shamanic lineages. Ceremonies are designed to model traditional approaches to plant communication and guide individuals to connect with the earth and their most authentic selves.
What ignited the spark in you to start to launch your business?
Rachael Carlevale: The roots of Ganjasana evolved out of necessity from my own personal yoga practice and health issues. Diagnosed with a uterine tumor at the age of 23, I was left severely underweight, in extreme pain and in the hospital fed by IVs. I began cultivating the cleanest cannabis medicine without the use of harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or other toxins, using no-till living organic soil. It was the unique combination of ingesting sustainably grown cannabis and practicing sacred yoga postures that nursed me back to balance. Under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor, I approached my health through a whole body awareness and had tried and tested many cannabis genetic cultivars over the last five years to find the specific strains for overall well-being. Through my Ganjasana practice, I have shrunk my tumor over 20mm. This has empowered me to live my life to the fullest.
How are you helping the cannabis industry in a positive way?
Rachael Carlevale: Ganjasana offers Ceremonies that educate participants on how to build a relationship with cannabis plant spirit medicine through the practices of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
GANJASANA aligns regenerative cannabis plant medicine ‘GANJA’ with sacred yoga methods ‘ASANA.’ Founded on the principles of permaculture, we only work with cannabis cultivated in no-till, living organic soil and grown with safe and sustainably conscious methods that are mindful of the health of the plant, the environment, and the people. We are here for individuals seeking to learn the tools needed to work with cannabis as a plant ally for optimal healing and wellbeing. Ganjasana creates transformative experiences, holding space to discover the wisdom of the natural world in a safe environment, with the highest quality, sustainable cannabis plant medicine.
Who is your role model, and why?
Rachael Carlevale: Mother Nature. Plants have been on this earth for thousands of years before us humans, and have much wisdom to teach us. Plants can be our allies if we learn to quiet our minds enough to listen. When we observe nature, we see ecosystems working together, integrating, and creating synergistic relationships. We can all learn from Mother Nature, and align to her natural rhythms to find balance in our own lives.
I would love to share with our viewers a little about your journey, how did your journey begin with cannabis?
Rachael Carlevale: My relationship with cannabis began as an early teen, and I found the plant to not only bring peace to my life but an expansion of consciousness and my understanding of the world. I actually went to my very first yoga class high and felt a divine connection. It was a complete lifestyle change once I discovered the magic of plant medicine, and dedicated my life to the plants. I started a compost in my high school, a health and wellness club, and then went on to college to study plant medicine with Amazonia shamans.
After discovering yoga at the age of 15, I have since dedicated my life to the practice, studying pre-med, plant and soil sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where I took an honors international course, ‘The Shaman’s Pharmacy’ with Medicine Hunter, Chris Kilham and the Shipibo tribe shaman’s. In the Peruvian Amazon, I began to learn about plant spirit medicine, and received the ‘Plant Spirit Grant’ from the Cosmic Sister organization that supports women in the psychedelic renaissance, and is a Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) non-profit partner. I later also received the ‘Cosmic Sister of Cannabis Grant’ for further Ayahuasca Psychedelic Therapy Research with the Shipibo Shamans I have been working with for over five years who have passed on the traditions of their elders and sing for the plants.
Cannabis is a master plant that I have been working with for many years, and practice the regenerative cultivation of in living organic soil with my husband, permaculturist, and cannabis consultant. I have been fortunate to heal my tumor, avoid toxic medications and surgeries, and shrink it over 20mm through the use of cannabis plant medicine and my inner knowledge of yoga. I am grateful for the plant and serve in her honor. Ganjasana is the intentional continuation of the Shipibo lineage that teaches how to respect plant life and build a relationship with our plant relatives for health and healing. The practices of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are tools that are applied in a ceremony to assist with deepening connection to the cannabis plant spirit.
I have been classically trained as a Hatha Yoga Instructor in 2010 and received my Mindfulness Educators Certification from the Greater Good Science Center at The University of California, Berkeley in 2014.
Self-care is an important topic, and I know for many entrepreneurs, we can forget about our health and wellness, are there any easy tips or suggestions you have for the busy entrepreneurs who would like to try to add a bit more self-care to their busy schedule?
Rachael Carlevale: I recommend developing a morning ritual that includes some sort of mindful movement and meditation. See this routine as a necessary part of your work day, and value your own care as much as you care for your business. We can only serve the world, once we serve ourselves. Start with slow and small solutions, dedicate only seven minutes each morning, and as you feel comfortable, increase your time. And most importantly, do so without judgment. Even if you are thinking about your “to-do” list for your entire mediation, that is okay. Allow yourself the space to return to the present moment, non-judgementally, and know that your efforts, day by day, moment by moment, are building new neuronal connections, and establishing a new sense of balance and connection with self.
What book has inspired you the most?
Rachael Carlevale: The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka. “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
What is one of your favorite things about being a cannabis patient and entrepreneur?
Rachael Carlevale: As a patient who credits regenerative cannabis for saving my life, I am fortunate to have a deep connection and understanding of the cannabis plant. I have a 15-year relationship with the plant and have been cultivating her (cannabis) for seven. We ‘intimately’ know one another, and I greatly enjoy sharing the fruits of my insights.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Rachael Carlevale: 1.) Passion – we must be devoted to our cause in order to succeed. I began Ganjasana even before there was a ‘cannabis industry.’ I have and always will “work for the plants.” 2.) Work for the ‘Greater Good’ – Entrepreneur’s who have the whole in mind will always understand that their work is greater than themselves. Join your community, and rise up together. 3.) Grit – Never give up on yourself, no matter what.
Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
Rachael Carlevale: We are a grassroots company built from the ground up.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to launch a business in the cannabis industry?
Rachael Carlevale: Patients over profits! Think about why exactly you want to get into the industry and how you can positively impact the ‘greater good.’ With every business decision you make, ensure you are respecting the three main ethics of permaculture- earth care, people care, fair share. How do your decisions impact the environment, the people and how can you ensure everyone gets their fair share? We are all in this together for the plant! Look at mother nature, see how she works all her living organisms into one harmonious ecosystem. We must model nature to regenerate and thrive!
What’s the hardest part of founding and running a startup?
Rachael Carlevale: Entrepreneurs are always working, from sun-up to sun-down and it takes a lot of energy. Founders often find themselves wearing all the hats of a professional company until they can afford to hire help (that means you are the CEO, CFO, COO, the Marketing department, the HR, etc. all at once), so make extra sure to care for yourself.
Is there anything that surprised you about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
Rachael Carlevale: As cannabis is still federally illegal, it ‘s hard to use federal services such as social media adds and banking. However, you have the entire industry working together to overcome such issues.
Being a founder, we are bound to make a mistake or two, what is one mistake you’ve done that turned up being one of your biggest learning lessons?
Rachael Carlevale: As the founder of Ganjasana, I feel like the biggest mistake I made was waiting too long to launch my company. I wanted to ensure I ‘proved my concept’ by way of pilot study, clinical trials, and evidence-based research. Although looking back, I feel that these tests were necessary in order to serve my students with the utmost safety. My advice to future entrepreneurs: NOW is the time.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Rachael Carlevale: Cannabis is a life-saving medicine, and I credit the plant for saving my own life. For this reason, I admire ARLO systems for cultivating regenerative cannabis and providing the industry with the safest plant medicine. I support all farmers in the regenerative cannabis network, who strive to make the plant, and the world a better place.
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Rachael Carlevale: I want to speak with my own ancestors whom I never had the chance to meet. I would want to know the stories of my great-grandmothers, and their mothers, the original wisdom keeper of plant medicine. I would want to know what plants they worked with, and how they particularly worked with nature, their personal recipes, and learn how I can serve the next seven generations ahead and beyond.
Any suggestions for those who are looking to join the cannabis industry?
Rachael Carlevale: In the practice of permaculture, there are three main ethics: Earth care, people care, fair share. For those looking to join the cannabis industry, it is imperative that we do so with respect for the planet, the people, and equity.
Also, let every decision be made with love.
How can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
Rachael Carlevale: As I mentioned, ethics are of the utmost importance. No matter what section of the industry you are in, from cannabis lifestyle products to cultivation, ensure you are respecting the earth, the plants, and the ultimate end user. We are all in this industry together, and when we learn to integrate (rather than segregate) together we will rise, and liberate the cannabis plant.
You have provided some valuable insight and reminders. Is there anything we missed? What else would you like to share?
Rachael Carlevale: Deepen ability to communicate with plant spirit with consciously selected heirloom genetic cultivars. Plant Ceremony has been passed down through the ancient Shipibo Shaman lineage of the Peruvian Amazon Jungle with traditional Curanderas, indigenous women healers.
Embody the wisdom of the cannabis plant spirit and step into your highest Self!
To learn more about Ganjasana, you can go to www.ganjasana.com
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