The populous, diverse City of San Francisco, California has long enjoyed a reputation as a center of trendy movements. For example, during the brief heyday of the Hippies during the late 1960s, the Haight-Ashbury district became a magnet for advocates of Flower Power, a Utopian vision of society, until growing crime and drug addiction problems destroyed the neighborhood’s allure for many young people. Now, some residents of San Francisco hope to develop a fashionable new type of Yoga.


Practiced in several specialized forms in India for centuries, Yoga exercises today appeal to many people seeking better health, limberness and mental relaxation. Various Yoga traditions enjoy a sizeable international following. Dee Dussault of San Francisco has offered classes in a completely new style of yoga since 2009. “Ganja Yoga” combines traditional Hatha Yoga routines with smoking marijuana before assuming the postures. Reportedly, many residents of the City have signed up to take classes in this (for people the United States) new and unorthodox form of exercise.


Dee Dussault, who began studying Yoga in 1995, claims ancient Indian practitioners of some forms of Yoga smoked cannabis as a method of worship. If correct, this assertion would possibly place Ganja Yoga within the scope of First Amendment protections under some circumstances. These legal ramifications may prove academic, however, since last November voters in California during a referendum chose to join states like Colorado in defying the federal restrictions imposed upon the use of marijuana as a purely recreational drug. Since that date, the number of San Francisco enrollments in Ganja Yoga classes have reportedly ballooned.


In New York City’s Harlem, there is an exciting new spin (pun intended) happening in the traditional exercise world. As reported by the New York Times’ Tariro Mzezewa in her article (here), Harlem Cycle is a fitness organization that recently opened in NYC’s famous Harlem district. Harlem Cycle aims to combine the area’s musical and cultural history with spinning classes, as well as other fitness exercises. They are able to combine fitness and culture by playing music that is reminiscent of Harlem’s great musical influence. They even have named certain classes after famous areas of Harlem, like its popular class “Striver’s Row”.


As well as providing historical perspective on the are of Harlem, Harlem Cycle endeavors to provide a community atmosphere in its gym, located on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. Another unique aspect of Harlem Cycle its actually its lack of something which most gyms have in abundance: mirrors. The founder of Harlem Cycle, Tammeca Rochester, does not want the fitness center’s members to constantly focus on how they look, but rather focus on how they are feeling. This is a bold shift away from the conventional, nation-wide gyms which are usually overflowing with mirrors.


Harlem Cycle is also getting involved with the community by participating in events like Harlem Week. The studio also plans on hosting theatrical performances this month, which is well in line with its Harlem roots.


All in all, Harlem Cycle is a unique fitness center, which focuses not only on the fitness and well-being of its members, but also the history and culture of the community which it is situated in.