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Imagine the perfect morning on the bank of a tranquil river. The water is slow-moving and glassy. The only sounds are birds chirping and a gentle breeze whispering through the grass.
You are relaxed.
Now, imagine you begin to hear some distant sounds of movement coming from up river. MaybeImagine the perfect morning on the bank of a tranquil river. The water is slow-moving and glassy. The only sounds are birds chirping and a gentle breeze whispering through the grass.
You are relaxed.
Now, imagine you begin to hear some distant sounds of movement coming from up river. Maybe you hear splashing, maybe faint yelling, as if a group of people is chanting. You can hear them only shortly before their figures start to become visible in the distance.
Before you can believe it, they are upon your stretch of tranquility. The first thing you notice in detail is the giant carved head of a dragon, painted in vibrant colors, its lips peeled back in an intimidating smile. Sitting directly behind the beast’s white horns, a man straddling a giant drum is facing a crew of what looks like two dozen rowers sitting side by side in the narrow hull of the boat. Each is paddling in time with the drum, each blade slicing into the water at exactly the same time. You cannot believe how quickly and technical their movements are. At the back of the boat sits a woman, shouting orders and counting along with the drum. Directly behind her, the graceful tail of the dragon sweeps up out of the water, leaving a sizable wake behind the boat.
Then, they are gone. In just a few seconds, the boat traversed a space you would previously have thought impossible. The water is still churning behind their frenzied motion.
In the sudden silence, your heart is beating. Your adrenaline is pumping. You don’t want your tranquil setting back; you want to get onboard.
The best place to start is to join a dragon boat racing introductory class. Luckily, Naga Spirit Dragon boating in Pyrmont, Sydney offers a beginner’s course that is the perfect way to ease into the complex sport. Before you begin, you may want to review the historical context of dragon boat racing, so that you can impress your new teammates and gain an appreciation for the sport.
Let’s start with the most important aspect of dragon boat racing, the boat. According to Chinese tradition (1), the ornate design of the boat is very specific: an ox-like head, deer’s antlers, a stallion’s mane, reptilian scales, and the tail of a fish. The paddles in between are reminiscent of the animal’s many claws, moving in time while the dragon flies through clouds.
The boats are thought to have ancient religious origins, with some believing their role to be appeasement of the rain god. The Dragon Boat Festival, recorded over 2,000 years ago, boasts of several origin stories, varying by region. A popular one (2) tells the story of Qu Yuan, a beloved advisor to the king turned exiled poet whose suicide by drowning in the river sparked widespread grief. In looking for the deceased hero, his followers rowed into the river and threw rice into the water to distract the fish.
Subsequently, the festival has become a large cultural tradition, and people from all over the world have adopted the invigorating sport.
In accordance with racing rules, there is always a drummer (sitting at the front) and a steer (at the rear.) Traditional festivals can boast of crews of up to 50 rowers, but standard rules allow for 18 to 20 in the large boats, and 8 to 10 in the smaller versions.
So, now that you’re equipped with a foundational knowledge of the sport’s cultural roots, what does an introductory class look like?
Well, you’ll probably spend a lot of a time on land. As a technical sport with some risks, there are a few things to learn before getting into the water, like safety procedures, basic paddle technique, and how to get in and out of the boat (it may sound silly, but that is one squirrely vessel when you’re stepping onto it from dry land.) This class is also good time to go over the rhythm and timing that are so crucial to a cohesive crew.
Speaking of the crew, the initial class, while informative, is a great opportunity for the crew to start bonding. As an inherently social sport, the integration of individual members into a team is an incredibly important element to successful dragon boat racing. In other words, don’t be shy! Get to know your team!
Each subsequent class will incorporate more water time, but be prepared to start most sessions with dry land training. After all, dragon boat racing is an athletically demanding sport, so be prepared to put in that physical training!
During your first few sessions, you will probably experience some of the obvious joys of dragon boat racing. The teamwork. The beautiful setting. The sense of accomplishment that comes from hard work.
Yet, there are a few hidden benefits to dragon boat racing that you may not even realize. For instance, did you know that dragon boat racing can positively affect your mental state and have long-term effects on your physical health?
It’s true: dragon boat racing is shown (3) to decrease stress levels, improve self-esteem and increase energy levels while creating an overall sense of accomplishment and confidence in rowers of all ages. Many agree (4) that that teamwork can have a positive effect on mental health, as well.
Without a doubt, the physical advantages of dragon boat racing are also well worth the effort. Rowing requires the toning of several muscle groups in the body: neck, shoulders, back, chest, abdominals, obliques, hips, and thighs, to name a few. Within a few weeks of intense training, you’ll start to notice the results (try not to break too many fragile objects with your new strength in the process.)
Your practices will increase your overall cardiovascular health as well as heighten your coordination as a result of working so closely with your fellow rowers. Of course, we all know the vast benefits of being physically fit, from reduced risk of heart disease to improved stamina.
So, if you’re looking for adventure, community, and fun, dragon boat racing might just be the sport for you. Look into classes in your area to get training today!
I'd never tried jewellery classes in Sydney before. When I was a kid, my mother took me to meet one of her friends for an afternoon lunch.
We had to pick her up at her house, she explained, because Betty was blind and couldn’t drive herself. Having never met a blind person before,I'd never tried jewellery classes in Sydney before. When I was a kid, my mother took me to meet one of her friends for an afternoon lunch.
We had to pick her up at her house, she explained, because Betty was blind and couldn’t drive herself. Having never met a blind person before, a flood of wonder and curiosity washed over my young mind:
What would she be like? Would she be sad? What did she do if she couldn’t watch television?
When we pulled up the gravel driveway, Betty was already at the doorway, ready to greet us. She was smiling and waving, and with her dark sunglasses, you wouldn’t even suspect that she wasn’t look straight at us.
After introductions, Betty invited us inside for some iced tea before we went to the restaurant. As she turned to lead us into the house, I was mesmerized by her beautiful cascade of silver hair, pinned back with the most intricately beaded hair clip I had ever seen.
The clip was an oval about five centimeters long and a few centimeters high and was adorned with blue, red and yellow beads arranged in symmetrical patters. It reminded me of the mosaics we had learned about in school, yet somehow more impressive because of the minuscule size of the beads (I later learned that they were called seed beads.) They were so small; you could almost mistake the entire thing for patterned fabric.
My mother smiled. “She makes those herself, you know,” she said.
Though she couldn’t see my expression, Betty sensed my surprise and laughed.
“It’s true,” she said. “Come on, I’ll show you my collection.”
Betty lead me to a spare room, where she had set up a workshop. On top of her desk, she had everything to make the intricate clips: rows and rows of brightly colored beads, spools of thread, various sizes of scissors and pliers, and strips of leather.
Pinned up to the wall in neat columns were her finished products. Reds, blacks, oranges, greens, and blues. They were impossibly beautiful. Watching Betty show off her art made me realize how important beadwork was in her life. Just standing in her workshop, she was relaxed and full of joy.
For the rest of the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about Betty making those incredible hair clips. I had always enjoyed making crafts with beads at school, but I couldn’t imagine creating something so detailed. My mother explained to me that the beadwork was an integral part of Betty’s heritage as a Native American of the Owen’s Valley Paiute Nation in the United States, and she had probably learned very young. Not a lot of people have an interest in learning the craft anymore, she told me sadly.
Intrigued, I started researching the history of jewellery and beadwork on my own, finding a cultural history as elaborate as Betty’s art.
History of Jewellery Making
Jewellery, which in its most primitive form constituted decorative shells, bones, and colored rocks, is thought to be older even than clothing. As humans began settling into communal agrarian societies, in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, jewellery developed into more ornate and sophisticated forms of art, alongside concepts like religion and governance.
At this moment in history, jewellery began gathering social significance. For example, the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamen, whose treasures are housed at the Egyptian Museum (2) in Cairo, is still the largest collection of jewellery in the world, and gives modern historians a good idea of the opulence afforded only to the most powerful royal figures of the time.
The next few centuries saw an explosion of jewellery trading that solidified the art as a staple of almost every European, North African, and Middle Eastern civilization. A historian can dedicate a lifetime to a single island in the Mediterranean, like Crete, and never learn everything there is to know about jewellery in the Ancient World. The waters are simply too deep.
At the same time, on two completely separated continents, jewellery was weaving another historical thread in North and South American settled societies. In Central and Southern civilizations, like the Aztecs and Mayans, silver and gold were popular materials for ornamental pieces. For Western tribes, like Betty’s, early forms of jewellery consisted of natural materials, such as shells, silver, ivory, colorful stones like turquoise, etc.
European colonists, surprised no doubt to see such beautiful jewellery in the New World, introduced glass and seed beads in the 16th century, revolutionizing Native American art. Today, Native American nations throughout the United States continue to produce beaded moccasins, hair pieces, and baskets to preserve the tradition.
With such a diverse and vast history of jewellery in human civilization, it is no surprise that jewellery continues to be a key part of almost every society in the world. But in this age of mass-production, is there a way to preserve the age-old tradition of jewellery making? Is it even worth it to try?
Scientists say we have a very strong incentive to keep jewellery making around, namely its potential to improve our mental health.
One study (3), lead by Carolyn Adams-Price and Bernard Steinman of Mississippi State University, reviewed the impact of jewellery making on the mental wellbeing of 29 Canadian and American women, aged 31- to 64-years-old. All participants reported a psychological benefit, while 24% said that they experienced an increase in happiness and self-worth in particular.
The organization, Bonita Bead Boutique (4) in the United States, has recorded similar effects, from reduction in stress-related illness to improved cognitive function, in individuals participating in jewellery making for the first time.
Getting involved in jewellery making is incredibly easy. Jewellery making workshops are taught all over Sydney. Check out the long list of beginner’s classes by Chris Smalley: 1) colour master class 2) beading basics and 3) wire wrapped stones
Because of the broad definition of jewellery, there are endless options for beginner’s classes, based on your personal preferences. A typical introductory class will teach the basics of anything from beadwork to simple silver- or silicone-molding to creating your own porcelain beads and pendants.
For various reasons, many people overlook skateboarding as a hobby. It is reserved mainly for young, cool kids with trendy fashion sense and a seeming imperviousness to pain.
So it may come as a surprise that skateboarding as a sport and a hobby has been creating buzz in various professionalFor various reasons, many people overlook skateboarding as a hobby. It is reserved mainly for young, cool kids with trendy fashion sense and a seeming imperviousness to pain.
So it may come as a surprise that skateboarding as a sport and a hobby has been creating buzz in various professional fields, with physical therapists, metal health experts, and community organizers coming together to change the public discourse about skating.
What conclusions are they making? That we should all grab a board.
But first, the history:
Skateboarding is a relatively new sport, first appearing on the West Coast of the U.S. in the 1950’s. At this stage, the concept was crudely obvious: find a wooden plank, four wheels, a screwdriver, and a hill. Of course, the danger of the sport soon tainted its reputation, and many considered skateboarding to be a passing phase in popular culture, especially when it disappeared throughout the 60’s.
Thanks to die-hard skaters, the 70’s saw a resurgence of skateboarding in California. One of the innovations of this period was the transition from downhill slalom-style skating to more street-style, trick-based work. This was made possible by some key improvements to the sport, such as better wheels and board design, allowing skaters to discover and master previously unattainable techniques and tricks.
It was during this time that the hobby became particularly popular with the anti-establishment culture of the time, a relationship that would shape societal prejudice against skaters for decades. Despite the distaste, skateboarding was quickly becoming an iconic pastime in California, one that would prevail for the next forty years.
Skateboarding gained international credibility when technological advances allowed videographers to portray skater culture in wildly popular films such as Thrashin’ (1986) and Video Days (1991). Skateboarding video games soon took over the market, creating a following with millennials, who would grow up with skateboarding as a legitimate, established, and cool sport.
Today, the quintessential image of the skater is alive and well. However, more than just young, male skaters are enjoying the sport. With backing from various health professionals, the future of skateboarding looks to be broadening.
The Many Health Benefits of Skating
Perhaps the most visible benefit of learning to skateboard is the improvement in physical health. Skating requires muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility, all areas which are known (1) to contribute to physical wellbeing. It also helps our body in less noticeable areas, such as coordination and balance. According to various fitness sources (2), honing these skills is particularly beneficial in injury prevention and joint health.
Physicality is just the tip of the iceberg. Skateboarding offers an array of mental health benefits, as well. On the one hand, general physical exercise is proven (3) to improve mood, increase energy, and combat feelings of stress and depression. This is because the brain reacts to physical exertion by releasing serotonin and dopamine, two chemicals closely related to mood.
Yes, but what makes skateboarding so special? Surely those looking for a cure for the blues can run on a treadmill, no training (or bruises) required. Well, there are a few aspects to skateboarding that separate it from other forms of physical exercise.
One hidden advantage of skateboarding is the need to be outdoors. Though there are many indoor skateparks in this period of skating revival, most skaters practice their craft in the streets, where the tradition began. Studies (4) suggest that simply being outdoors can improve mental health as a result of increased circulation of Vitamin D in the body. The effect on depression is accentuated in green environments as opposed to urban settings, but anything is better than hitting the gym.
Let’s put physiology aside completely for a moment and highlight the other impacts of skating on mental health.
For example, a key element to skate culture is a laid-back attitude, but could it also be considered zen? The technicality of skateboarding requires enhanced attention to the body and the present moment, similar to yoga and other meditative practices. In the field of psychology (5), this process is known as mindfulness and has been proven to ease depression and anxiety by redirecting negative thought cycles and reducing stress. Some skaters, like Melani Hatter and Michel Loranger, have documented the role that skateboarding has had in their struggles with mental illness.
Skateboarding has one more altruistic trick up its sleeve, namely its sense of community. Groups like Skateboarding is Positive in the United States, lead by Nathan Kolar, are bringing the societal benefits of skating to light. Their advocacy covers topics like public safety, primary and secondary education, autism, and more. In their view, and with the backing of reputable Sociologists and not-for-profit organizations, skateboarding offers invaluable societal advantages, from alternatives to delinquency to transferable life skills that make the entire community a better place.
So, Why Aren’t We All Skating?
Who knows. Maybe skateboarding’s affiliation with anti-establishment sub-groups of the 80’s has lingering effects on new membership. Maybe those who didn’t start early feel uncomfortable trying later in life.
Or, maybe it just really hurts to fall the first few times.
But hopefully, all this talk of physical health, mental wellbeing, and societal improvement will open a few minds to the potential of skateboarding.
If you’re considering trying out the sport yourself, the best first step is to sign up for a beginner’s class, where an instructor can help you lay the foundation of your craft in a safe and controlled environment. An introductory class will go over basics like balancing on the board, turning, stopping, and falling safely.
There are plenty of Sydney skateboarding lessons available, in which beginners can learn from professionals and life-long skaters. Alternatively, many beginners find one-on-one instruction to be particularly helpful and less intimidating than trying out their skills in front of a group. Whatever appeals to you, just don’t forget your helmet and knee pads!
From there, skateboarding offers endless possibilities for improvement, from learning new tricks to downhill events. Even if you’re just in it for a reliable form of transportation, skateboarding can drastically improve your mental and physical wellbeing.
It’s difficult to imagine a happier instrument than the ukulele. Light, twinkling musicality aside, the mere appearance of the small stringed-instrument, miniature and cute, invokes a feeling of joy. Just do a quick search for ukulele covers of your favorite songs, or attend music classes in SydneyIt’s difficult to imagine a happier instrument than the ukulele. Light, twinkling musicality aside, the mere appearance of the small stringed-instrument, miniature and cute, invokes a feeling of joy. Just do a quick search for ukulele covers of your favorite songs, or attend music classes in Sydney and try not to smile.
The ukulele conjures up images of the shores of Hawaii, where island breezes carry the scent of floral hibiscus and the crashing of waves can always be heard somewhere in the distance. When considering its origin, one might imagine an islander suddenly stumbling upon the instrument leaning against a palm tree, forever changing the musical world.
But the history (1) of the ukulele has a much more intriguing past, stemming from Portuguese immigration to the set of islands in the mid 1800’s. As early as 1879, shiploads of immigrants from the islands of Madeira and the Azores arrived in Hawaii as farmhands to work in sugar cane fields. Of the many items they brought with them, the machete de braga, a four stringed instrument, was arguably the most entertaining.
At the end of a long day in the fields, families would sit around campfires singing traditional folksongs before resting up for the next grueling day of work. The music was probably first heard by the indigenous population when the Portuguese community gathered at the docks of Honolulu to welcome new immigrants to island.
The popularity of the stringed instrument spiked, soon becoming the star of street-corner concerts that the newcomers and established population could enjoy together. Fascinated by the energetic strumming of the machete players, island natives renamed the instrument ukulele, Hawaiian for jumping flea.
Even local royalty adopted the new toy. King David Kalakaua, an accomplished musician, brought the ukulele to a wider audience by naming it Hawaii’s national instrument. Subsequently, some minor changes were made to the ukulele, utilizing koa wood and altering the tuning to make the instrument more portable and enjoyable to play.
The next century saw rises and falls in ukulele popularity akin to the very sea from which the instrument originated. There are many detailed histories (2) on the subject, starring iconic American legends like Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby.
Today, the uke is experiencing yet another revival, with vloggers posting covers of the latest popular songs, and well-known bands playing their own songs with the happy little instrument.
Which is good news for those who have been voicing the benefits of learning the ukulele for years. That’s right. The ukulele is entertaining and good for you. Here’s why.
Neuropsychologist Daniel Levitin, a professor of music at McGill University in Montreal, provides some uplifting news on the efficacy of music intervention and clinical music therapy. According to him, scientific studies have found that particular types of music, be they upbeat or downtrodden, influence hormones in the brain, creating increases or dips in blood pressure.
The key is, he says, for the individual to find music that most influences him. A doctor cannot prescribe classical music and assume that it will affect every patient the same way. Music is subjective, in other words.
The interesting thing about the development of music intervention in today’s society, says Levitin, is that people are already using music as treatment method without really thinking of it as medicine. Companies like Spotify and Apple Music, for instance, have capitalized on this practice by arranging playlists based on moods, location, and activities. It seems that we as a society have already figured out what psychiatrists are testing, namely that music influences our emotions.
The field of psychology is taking it one step further by asking whether music therapy can be used to treat more serious cases of psychiatric disorders. Harvard Review of Psychiatry (3), for example, published a study in 2011 exploring the effects of music on patients with various mental illnesses, including depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety, among others. They found that in some cases, music could actually be used as an alternative to traditional treatment regiments.
Of course, the results need to be tested further, but this is incredibly exciting step for those looking for alternatives to invasive types of therapy, like medication or electroconclusive therapy (ECT).
Overall, listening to music is a great way to boost mental health and help deal with certain psychiatric illnesses. So if the ukulele is the instrument that gets you smiling, you can make a conscious choice to improve your wellbeing by incorporating ukulele tracks into your daily routine.
But wait, there’s more! Research shows that while listening to music has a great influence on wellbeing, playing music has an even stronger impact on mental health. Some benefits, according to Levitin, are cognitive improvements as a result of attentional training. He goes on to point out that children who are exposed to music classes are more likely to be well-socialized later in life.
In support of Levitin’s claim, a study (4) out of Canada suggests that children’s participation in music lessons leads to an increase in social cohesion as a result of sympathy and prosocial development. There are various theories as to why learning to play music may contribute to changes in these behaviors. One idea is that the ability of music to bring humans together may have played a role in the survival of our ancestors.
In related studies, music lessons have been associated with cognitive functioning improvements in language skills, visuospatial abilities and memory. Such findings even linked music classes to higher intelligence and academic success.
Clearly, listening to and playing music is beneficial to our mental health as well as our social interconnectedness. And what better way achieve both than to add a little ukulele to your life?
Those who have tried out ukulele classes rave about the joy of learning to play the instrument. Luckily, because of a recent increase in ukulele workshops and classes in and around Sydney, it is a great time to take up the hobby. For a traditional class, try signing up for the ukulele course in Chatswood with Ian Porter.
A typical Japanese bakery will have wagashi. In fact, they won’t just have wagashi. Most likely, they will have many, many types of the bite-sized sweet Japanese treats. As you peruse your options, it will be difficult to pinpoint just one tantalizing option: there are small, soft green balls,A typical Japanese bakery will have wagashi. In fact, they won’t just have wagashi. Most likely, they will have many, many types of the bite-sized sweet Japanese treats. As you peruse your options, it will be difficult to pinpoint just one tantalizing option: there are small, soft green balls, dense, chocolate-like squares, intricately molded hard candies, and more, all delicious and delicate and exciting. Learn how to make them from scratch at Japanese cooking classes in Sydney.
After deliberating for a long time between the wide selection, you may just have to sample more than one. Don’t worry if you don’t find your favourite treat on your first pass. Japanese sweets are available at virtually every Japanese establishment in Australia, including restaurants, department stores, food carts, and convenience stores (1). Make sure that you have an open mind and a cup of green tea with you as you begin your wagashi journey.
To understand wagashi, you must first learn the ancient art of tea ceremony.
You’ve probably heard of Japanese Tea Ceremony, a practice that automatically conjures up images of delicate tea sets, the precise and talented movements of a tea master, and the serene greenery of a tea garden. Historians have written a great deal about this highly structured and difficult-to-learn cultural practice, from its introduction to Japan in the 700’s to today’s tea ceremony revival in younger generations. Everyone can agree that tea ceremony holds a special place in Japan’s national identity, invoking pride in citizens and absolute awe in tourists.
What you may not have heard, but will be excited to learn, is that tea ceremony has a sweet secret: Wagashi, or Japanese sweets.
This facet of tea culture deals specifically with the sweet accompaniments to green tea, made up mostly of sweet bean pastes and rice flour. They come in an endless variety of colors, shapes, tastes and textures, and have become a cultural staple in their own right.
Dessert-lovers and cultural enthusiasts alike are anxious to sign up for Japanese confectionery classes, in which students learn the preparation method and serving technique of the tasty morsels. Try making your own sweet treats with ClassBento's friendly and expert teachers, or dive deeper into a workshop that focuses on Japanese arts and culture.
Once you’ve signed up for your beginner’s course, you may want to brush up on your Japanese tea history before your first class. Here are a few key things to remember about this special practice:
• In the 14th century, tea ceremony was created by Zen Buddhists as a religious practice emphasizing the four integral notions of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility (2). Because of this, tea ceremony is a fundamentally spiritual practice and has retained sacred status for seven centuries.
• The most important name associated with tea ceremony is Sen Rikyu (3), a tea master who set the standard for tea ceremony by codifying the entire process, from the technical process, to the utensils, to the setting. He is credited with developing the notions of wabi (a commitment to simple, everyday living) and sabi (an aesthetic tendency towards the old and worn.) The overall intention is to find beauty in ordinary objects.
• Tea masters dedicate their entire lives to perfecting their craft, and a full tea ceremony can last up for four hours, with multiple renditions of green tea, a meal, sake tasting, and wagashi (4).
Now that you have a foundational knowledge of the main show, let’s pivot to one of the key players of the ceremony: wagashi.
Wagashi can be broken down into three separate categories - togashi, tenjin and nanban-gashi - each with its own taste and cultural history(5).
• Togashi is the rarest form of Japanese confectionery and is made from the kneading of wheat flour or bean paste into various shapes. It is then deep-fried and has a long tradition of being served at aristocratic banquets.
• Tenjin is the type most closely associated with tea ceremony as it was introduced with by the zen buddhists who popularized the custom. It is characterized by jellied and bun-like sweets, although traditional versions were more savory than sweet.
• Nanban-gashi was radically different from other forms of wagashi when it was introduced by Portuguese immigrants in 1543. Unlike its savory relatives, this unique form utilized sweet ingredients and eggs, which were previously uncommon on the islands.
If such distinctions are not enough, wagashi gets more complicated - and more exciting! For, the creation of Japanese sweets are not simply shaping sweetened bean paste into random shapes. Instead, each wagashi creates a balance of the senses which enhances its role as part of the Zen Buddhist’s tea ceremony(6):
• Sight - each wagashi is perfectly crafted to be aesthetically pleasing and thought provoking
• Taste - wagashi is a showcase of its natural ingredients, allowing the person tasting the treat to admire traditional Japanese crops such as beans and grains
• Texture – the sweets come in a vast variety of textures, from soft to crispy to light to dense
• Scent - a key aspect is subtlety - in fragrance, especially. Each morsel compliments the other scents of the ceremony, like the all-important green tea
• Sound - wagashi invoke an auditory response as a result of its unique and significant labels. Many refer to natural elements or traditional poetic works
When sifting through all of the information, you may feel a little bit overwhelmed. This is normal; tea ceremony and Japanese sweets boast of long and meaningful histories that are difficult for foreigners to understand.
But wagashi can be a beautiful and accessible hobby, in which students learn about and gain an appreciation for an incredibly complex culture while also exploring the creative process of wagashi-making.
As a student of wagashi, you can benefit just by learning the basics, or you can fully lean into the practice, tapping into an extensive and well-established tradition of sweet-making.
Maybe it’s irrational, that happiness that we feel at pouring the morning’s first cup after learning how at coffee classes in Sydney. There is something intoxicating about it: the aroma, the thin film of foam, the swirling galaxy of cream and black coffee. We hold the warm mug in our handsMaybe it’s irrational, that happiness that we feel at pouring the morning’s first cup after learning how at coffee classes in Sydney. There is something intoxicating about it: the aroma, the thin film of foam, the swirling galaxy of cream and black coffee. We hold the warm mug in our hands and enjoy the moment before being welcomed back into the world, energized and ready for the day.
Maybe it’s an irrational affinity, but it’s certainly an old one. Coffee has woven a sprawling history (1) in almost every Western civilization since its discovery in Ethiopia before the 15th century (2). Political leaders have been known to mull over heavy decisions with a coffee cup in hand, while cafés across the world have housed countless revolutionary meetings and literary discussions. Coffee, then, is an integral part of the social and cultural development of the Western world.
The beverage was first brought to Australia with the First Fleet of 1788, though the inhospitable climate for the coffee plant negated the possibility of production. Still, demand called for beans, and regular shipment was arranged to the colonies over the better part of the next century. In the 1850’s, the Gold Rush rejuvenated the coffee trade, marked by the appearance of coffee stalls in the well-populated cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle.
Interestingly, the popping up of such establishments created some controversy with citizens in the 1890’s, with some church members expressing offense at the sale of coffee during time that should be devoted to religious activity. The hours of such establishments may have become regulated, but no municipal code could reign in the popularity of coffee over the next few decades.
As early as 1870, coffee palaces started to appear throughout the country as an alternative to establishments that served alcohol, creating a sort of higher cultural perception of the beverage. Indeed, coffee palaces became known as places to conduct business, attend sophisticated social gathers, and spend leisure time surrounded by intellectuals. Those that still exist are beautiful reminders of the long and important history of coffee in Australia.
Coffee has, of course, remained an integral part of Australian culture. The beverage is twice as popular as tea, and has become such a source of pride as to spark international debates (3) surrounding the invention of certain coffee drinks - like the flat white (I think we can all agree that the birth of such a delicious drink could only come from Sydney.) Click here for free tips to make your homemade coffee taste better.
Cafe culture, in the form of coffee shops and espresso bars, has also maintained its place in modern society. Across the globe, establishments like Starbucks provide a much needed study space for university students, conference rooms for businessmen and women, or simply a place to escape the heat of summer (or the cold of the winter!)
Coffee has even earned a reputation in the health community (4), offering a range of benefits from antioxidants to an increase in depression-fighting dopamine. Other studies (5) have revealed the ability of coffee consumption to alleviate the severity of certain diseases, in particular liver disease. Adding to the laundry list of benefits, coffee is also known to strengthen immunity, lower stress, and prevent dementia.
In a sense, coffee is the perfect way to have your cake and eat it, too.
This brings me to my next point. Coffee is wonderful. It is the life-blood of productivity and inspiration. It sparks discussion and solidifies bonds. It’s good for our health.
But going to a coffee shop everyday can be expensive. Even an uncomplicated beverage like an espresso can cost up to 3.50 at a cafe, not to mention additions like steamed milk or flavored syrups. It can be difficult to rationalise the regular purchase of drinks like these, no matter how delicious that double vanilla latte with soy milk is.
So what can we do when we don’t want to sacrifice the luxury of quality coffee but also don’t want to spend our lifesavings on the local coffee shop?
ClassBento’s solution? Become your own barista.
Analytical studies from Canstar Blue (6) show that brewing your own coffee, even specialty drinks like espresso, can save the average Australian up to $800 AUD a year, depending on your method. So, perhaps it’s not surprising that in 2013, it was recorded that six out of every seven cups of coffee consumed by Australians were brewed at home.
Even with this knowledge, I was initially a little bit intimidated to try brewing at home. The baristas at my local coffee shop in Glebe, Sydney, seemed so knowledgable and skilled at their craft, and their machinery was infinitely more advanced than I could have at home. To allay my fears, I decided to attend a coffee making workshop, where a seasoned barista could show a group of friends and I the ropes.
The two-hour-long class introduced a variety of techniques, from french press to aeropress to Chemex, allowing us to familiarize ourselves with the process as well as choose our favorite method.
We also had a chance to learn about coffee regions, strains, and roasts. Indeed, a wonderful takeaway from the class was an understanding of the nuance of coffee. I was even able to impress my barista!
If that wasn’t enough, the class covered all of the other aspects of coffee-making, like how to choose the right dairy option, how to use a frother, and even how to create a design in the foam.
Short of teaching us how to plant and grow a coffee plant ourselves, the course covered everything I ever wanted to know about coffee.
Since then, I’ve highly enjoyed incorporating my new skills into my morning routine. The ten minute process of grinding and brewing allows me to start off the day meditatively, while sitting down to a cup of my home brew gives me a sense of pride. Even while traveling, I cannot leave the house without my hand-grinder, french press, and locally roasted beans.
Of course, the boost in my savings is nice, too!
Whenever I see the Japanese calligraphy, shodo, I am astounded. I have trouble enough writing legibly with a pencil, let alone create a work of art with something as permanent as black ink. Even games of Pictionary are a disaster for my shaky and untrained hand.
But I shouldn’t beWhenever I see the Japanese calligraphy, shodo, I am astounded. I have trouble enough writing legibly with a pencil, let alone create a work of art with something as permanent as black ink. Even games of Pictionary are a disaster for my shaky and untrained hand.
But I shouldn’t be discouraged; shodo is learned practice. Anyone with the patience and commitment to study the art form can gain the skills necessary to become a calligraphy artist. Plus, there is much more to shodo than the artistic creation, and even students without so-called natural talent can enjoy a range of benefits associated with the learning process.
One of the most intriguing aspects of pursuing shodo, for instance, is learning about the rich history of Japanese calligraphy.
Calligraphy Roots across the sea
It may surprise you to learn that Japanese calligraphy actually calls China its birthplace, where historians have found early pictograms on animal bones and stones dating back to 3,500 years ago (1). With revolutions to the practice around 100 CE, such as the invention of papyrus-like material and brushes made from animal hair, calligraphy as we know it today was born.
Shodo was introduced in Japan as early as 600 CE, when Japanese aristocracy made learning the intricate discipline part of the education of young royal members. As the art form developed on the island, characteristics unique to Japanese culture surfaced and replaced some of the traditional Chinese elements.
Between 1185–1333 CE, another drastic change occurred in the field of calligraphy, namely the influence of Zen Buddhism on the practice. This period saw a flourishing of artistic refinery across the archipelago, with the introduction of cultural traditions such as tea ceremony, flower arranging, and landscape painting. Calligraphy was an integral part of this process, and continues to be an important part of Japanese tradition.
As an artist of any discipline will tell you, quality tools are the most important part of the process. Without an understanding of and respect for your materials, you cannot advance in your craft. So here’s a foundational review (2) of the tools most important to shodo:
• First, the brush, or fude. Made from various types and blends of animal hair, the brushes used in shodo come in many different forms but usually have a handle of wood or bamboo. Depending on the character, broad-stroke or fine-line brushes must be used. It is very important to take diligent care of the fude.
• Next, the ink stick and ink stone, or sumi and suzuri. The black ink used in shodo is created by rubbing the sumi (made from the soot of burned woods) on the suzuri (a heavy stone prepared with a few drops of water.) This creates a thick black ink in which to dip the fude.
• Shodo Paper, or Hanshi. Though there are multiple ways to create paper for shodo, the most common method is washi, or hand-molded Japanese paper. Unlike paper used for Chinese calligraphy, this type of hanshi is very thin and does not soak up as much ink.
The practice, itself
After gaining an appreciation for the tools necessary in shodo, it is also helpful to review the unique skills required of practicing calligraphy. You may find that as you gain access to this skill set, you will also enjoy a range of cognitive and emotional benefits as well.
• Self-discipline: a key strength taught through the art of shodo is self-discipline. The art of Japanese calligraphy calls for a demanding amount of repetition, attention to detail and long-term commitment. Only by finding an internal well of strength and discipline, can you hope to improve as an artist. For those that find this strength, studies show that self-discipline is an incredible skill that can be translated to a variety of settings outside of your calligraphy class. Self-discipline not only accounts for 80% of the goal attainment process, but also paves the way for mentally beneficial practices of self-love and respect (3).
• Perseverance: anyone who has failed at something knows how difficult perseverance can be. And shodo requires quite a bit of the skill because of the stringent technique necessary to create the beautiful works of art. Yet, because of the difficulty in attaining perfection in shodo, perseverance can amplify feelings of fulfillment and achievement, and this payoff can make other challenges in your life seem attainable as well.
• Focus: at the core of Zen Buddhism is a life-changing concept: mindfulness. Mindfulness is awareness of the present state of existence, an invitation to see things how they are and appreciate them without judgement or prescription. In other words, it is an attempt to focus the mind away from irrelevant thoughts and onto the task at hand. With as technical a craft as shodo, which forces its students to pay extreme attention to detail and form, mindfulness is easily attainable. And this is great for students interested in the wellness benefits of shodo; effective practice of mindfulness has been linked to a long list of health benefits, including reduced inflammation, better sleep, and higher immunity (4).
Take up Shodo and reap the benefits
Whether you’re interested in learning a little bit about Japanese cultural traditions or you’re looking for a challenging creative outlet, a beginner’s class in shodo will intrigue and engage you. You will learn about each integral part of the artistic process, from picking out the best materials to exploring the expressive Japanese characters. Along the way, you will also pick up skills that can not only be translated into other areas of your life, but will contribute to your overall mental wellbeing.
Don’t worry. Even if you’ve got shaky handwriting or haven’t explored your artistic skills before, your shodo instructor will introduce you to a world much larger than simply putting brush strokes on a piece of paper. There’s no reason to be intimidated, and plenty to explore.
I’ll admit it. When a friend of mine invited me to go to a local bar to try out a popular new mixologist who runs cocktail making classes in Sydney, I didn’t understand the hype. What could a mixologist do that a bartender couldn’t? Was there anything that unique about putting alcoholI’ll admit it. When a friend of mine invited me to go to a local bar to try out a popular new mixologist who runs cocktail making classes in Sydney, I didn’t understand the hype. What could a mixologist do that a bartender couldn’t? Was there anything that unique about putting alcohol in a glass? And could fresh fruit juice really be better than the usual mix?
I simply couldn’t imagine than any fancy cocktail could be good enough to endure the hassle of an overpacked bar. Or be worth the exorbitant price.
Against my better judgement, I let my friend take me along to experience the difference. After weaving my way through the thick crowd of excited fans, I ordered the bar’s special, a rum-based drink. Still skeptical, I watched the mixologist closely.
The next five minutes changed my whole perspective on the subject.
Despite the noise of the bar, the patrons eagerly waving for his attention, and the bartenders moving frantically around him, the mixologist went to work with incredible focus.
Utilizing a graceful speed, he placed a few sprigs of fresh mint into my glass along with a spoonful of raw sugar, crushing them together perfectly with a few short twists of a muddler (the pestle-like tool used for breaking down larger ingredients). The result was a pungent mint syrup at the bottom of the glass.
Before I knew it, the muddler was replaced with a bottle of rum, tipped high over the glass so that the alcohol fell in a delicate cascade on top of the mixture at the bottom. In another swift exchange, the mixologist had half of a fresh lime in one hand and a manual juicer in the other, surprising me with how quickly he could juice the lime, and then another, and then another, until my drink was filled to the brim with the tasty mix.
For the finishing touch, my mixologist cut off a long curl of lime peel with a short pairing knife, and, reaching under the bar counter, brought out some kind of lighter. Miraculously, he was able to light the peel on fire just long enough to curl it into the perfect shape before wedging it lightly on the edge of my glass and handing me the finished product.
After such a show, I felt bad ruining the mixologist’s work of art by drinking it. But once I had my first sip, I couldn’t put it down. Never again would I be able to enjoy a drink made with juice made from concentrate or canned fruit. The quality of the rum made the bottom shelf stuff I was used to taste like lighter fluid, and the raw sugar added just the right amount of sweetness that didn’t get clogged up at the bottom.
My skepticism was gone. This was one refined drink that deserved the reputation and the price tag.
The next day, I headed to my local grocery store and stocked up on everything I would need to recreate the elixir: top quality ingredients, a pestle, a juicer. Two hours and many attempts later, I was still not happy with the result. I could have sworn that I was following the same steps, but somehow the mixologist’s creation was simply better than mine.
My frustration, of course, was silly. Mixology is a complex field; its professionals are trained in everything from seasonal harvests to flavor pairings to presentation. In other words, it is not a self-taught endeavor and cannot be learned in a day.
For those out there who still want to create that perfect experience at home, there is still hope. ClassBento now offers a mixology cocktail making course in Sydney, lead by mixology expert, Robin Tabari, who was schooled in the field at Britain’s Mal Maison Group. A beginner’s class goes over fundamental skills like finding the best ingredients, manipulating flavors like acidity and sweetness, and navigating the complex world of brand names and spirit categories.
And, recent studies show that attending the cocktail making class may offer more than just a really useful skill set. ABC Health and Wellness (1) reviewed some of the observational studies that linked a decreased risk of heart disease, strokes and diabetes for people who drank moderately (about one drink per day.) These participants tended to avoid such diseases longer than those who did not drink at all.
Other experts, such as Japanese professor Takeshi Tanigawa from the Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine (2), encourages moderate to light social drinking to improve happiness and overall health.
So if you want to maximize your new set of mixology skills, you’ll need to share your wonderful drinks with friends. Professor Tanigawa adds in one particularly fun tip: incorporate karaoke into your mixology parties; the deep breathing required of singing has a positive effect on the nervous system.
In addition to the inherent benefits of controlled alcohol consumption, there are other ways to utilize your new mixology skills to improve your health. One bartender (3) from the U.S., for instance, made dieting enjoyable by using his knowledge of mixology to blend delicious, health-conscious concoctions from fresh juice and vegetables.
Along the same vein, bars across the world are introducing more health-conscious options on their menus. Instead of offering the usual sugar-intensive favourites, these mixologists (4) are showcasing health-conscious beverages that use less sugar and offer more nutritional value. A few of the more unique mixers are:
• kombucha - a tasty fermented tea that offers an array of beneficial bacteria and a lower sugar content than traditional mixers
• matcha - green tea that is high in antioxidants, and can lead to lower cholesterol and increased cognitive function
• vegetable juices - we all know the many benefits of vegetables, from essential vitamins and nutrients, to increased athletic performance
Mixologists are jumping on the opportunity to incorporate these unusual ingredients into their repertoire, especially for a health conscious audience.
With your new mixology skills, you can also learn which healthy mixers blend well with your favourite spirits or brands. So get creative! Try a mixology class today!
To the untrained eye, ikebana may seem like just a few flowers in a bowl. The translation of the name doesn’t shed much light, with ike meaning “arrange” or “alive” and bana meaning “flower (1).” Ikebana is also sometimes referred to in relation to kado or “theTo the untrained eye, ikebana may seem like just a few flowers in a bowl. The translation of the name doesn’t shed much light, with ike meaning “arrange” or “alive” and bana meaning “flower (1).” Ikebana is also sometimes referred to in relation to kado or “the way of the flower (2).” But this etymology doesn’t get us any closer to understanding what ikebana is, where it came from and why Ikebana classes in Sydney are so popular.
So to paint the picture, let’s consider the following scene:
Image that the year is 1403 and you are in Kyoto, Japan. You are approaching a Zen Buddhist temple, which is perched on the edge of a tranquil lake. Everywhere you look, you see twisting pines and thick green foliage. Pink and white cherry blossoms seem to be falling delicately from the sky. This is a sacred place, and as such it is quiet and calm.
The square building in front of you is three stories tall, each level separated by an ornate, sweeping roof and wrap-around walkway. The siding is yellowish-gold color which sets the temple in stark contrast with the soft greenery surrounding it. As you walk closer, you notice there is a doorway on the side of the temple facing the water, and you enter with bated breath.
Inside, simplicity governs the space. Natural light filters through panes of thin-paper windows and the wood flooring is bright and open. The room is free of all furniture, except for an altar at the center, directly in front of you.
The mantle is arranged on three tiers: at the top is an ornate carving of the Buddha in black stone. The two lower levels house four different floral arrangements, each seeming to defy gravity with their sprawling stems and drooping flowers.
You are surprised by the array of colors: deep violet tulips are placed with bright red buds and wide pink water lilies. Interspersed with the flowers are precariously arranged leafless sticks and pine tree branches, which reach up and lean gracefully over to the side or curl around the outside of the arrangement as if holding everything in.
Each ikebana is its own world of balance, playfulness, and tranquility. You could look at each one for hours, focusing on each individual blade of grass, stem, stick, or flower petal, and never tire of its design. Incredibly, each ikebana also adds to the balance of the altar as a whole. The effect is a kind of visual relaxation that is at once satisfying and mystifying.
You realize, as you continue to appreciate the earthly beauty in front of you, that you are unconsciously practicing a fundamental Zen Buddhist tradition: the practice of mindfulness, of allowing the mind to exist in the present moment, and to bask in the calmness and serenity of the body (3).
Put simply, ikebana is not just a few flowers in a bowl. It is an art form. A spiritual journey. An integral piece of Japanese tradition.
Even to the untrained eye, this is something sacred and special.
And now, it is open to individuals all over the world. Classes range from beginner’s design to advanced floral arrangement. ClassBento’s Setsuko Yanagisawa leads an exciting introductory course which covers the basics of ikebana like layering flowers and building up an arrangement from the base. You will even learn the different types of Japanese flora and fauna in order to make a beautiful and authentic work of art.
As with any creative pursuit, ikebana also offers a range of mental health benefits as well. The most, obvious benefit, probably is the meditative element of Japanese flower arrangement.
The benefits of meditation are well-documented (4), and have been shown to have a positive impact on people dealing with anxiety, depression and even physical pain. Ikebana can invite you to meditate by focusing your awareness on the technical and creative task at hand. You’ll find yourself so immersed in the beauty of your work, that you may not even realize that you’re meditating until you leave the session relaxed and serene.
Another advantage of practicing ikebana: self-expression. According to the Government of Western Australia Mental Health Commission (6), self-expression is a key factor in improving mental health and wellbeing. Luckily, ikebana is fundamentally a practice of self-expression, in which each arrangement speaks to the emotions and visual aesthetic of the individual creator. Furthermore, it can lead to a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, and because there are more than 3,000 schools of ikebana today(5), you will never run out of ways to express your creativity.
If you’re interested in incorporating your newfound skills in Japanese flower arrangements into your home, here’s some more great news for you. Ikebana can greatly improve your everyday mood by changing the ambiance of your living space. At its core, ikebana is about simplicity, balance, and an appreciation for the imperfect beauty of the natural world. These elements create a calm and relaxing atmosphere, which will naturally lower stress and rejuvenate you.
In addition to tranquility, the emphasis on appreciation offers its own set of advantages for those looking to take care of their mental wellbeing. According to prominent voices in the field of gratitude like Hugh van Cuylenburg (7), research clearly indicates that showing gratitude, for something as small as a glass of water to something as meaningful as a loving family, can greatly increase feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Ikebana teaches this practice of gratitude powerfully by asking its students to appreciate and be thankful for everything from the beautiful glazed vase to the fragile stems to the striking blooms of color and fragrance.
Overall, ikebana is not simply the act of arranging flowers. It goes far beyond its vague etymology into the realm of art, spirituality, and mental wellbeing. By signing up for a beginner’s class in ikebana, you are embarking on a meaningful and beautiful cultural journey.
As a teenager in a primary school art class, I had no idea what screen printing was, but from what I could see of the press in front of me, it was going to be complicated.
The contraption had several limbs branching out at different angles like some kind of advanced, spinning robot ready forAs a teenager in a primary school art class, I had no idea what screen printing was, but from what I could see of the press in front of me, it was going to be complicated.
The contraption had several limbs branching out at different angles like some kind of advanced, spinning robot ready for take-off. The metal base was dripping with ink in various bright colors.
“I’m going to use that?” I asked my teacher.
She shook her head with a smile, “That’s a little advanced for you. Don’t worry, we’re going to be working with individual screens for now. It’s still a little complicated, but you’ll have fun.”
Over the next two weeks, I spent hours designing, cutting, aligning, and squeegee-ing on various types of paper and fabric. There were times when I wanted to pull my hair out and times that I was ecstatic with the outcome, but usually I was just extremely focused on my work.
By the time I had completed my first project - a tricolor work that would probably make Andy Warhol cringe - I was hooked on the hobby. I couldn’t wait to show off my freshly-pressed artwork to friends and family. I actually started to make my own t shirts with screen printing!!
“Just wait until you learn more about the history,” my art teacher prodded.
Indeed, screen printing has an interesting tale to tell.
The art form has a surprisingly long history, with Polynesian Island natives producing the first images by seeping ink through banana leaves over 1500 years ago (1). Similar techniques popped up in China and Japan, where they developed in sophistication and skill. At the 1853 World’s Fair, Japanese goods were lauded by European and American artists, who sought to learn and commercialize the art form.
Though screen printing wouldn’t show up in Australia until the second World War, other forms of printing have always been a crucial part of the country’s history (2). For instance, a humble little device came over with the first fleet in 1788, though it was incomprehensible to all crew members.
Once the newcomers learned how to use the press, printing exploded in the form of newspapers and informative books on exploration of the continent. This type of production was usually relegated to the commercial sector, and wouldn’t become popular as an art form until the 1970’s, as a result of Andy Warhol’s explosive entrance into the art world.
As an American artist, Warhol’s most famous works depict American popular culture, such as his iconic renditions of actress Marilyn Monroe in the 1960’s. As a result of his pioneering endeavors, artists all over the world began experimenting with silk screens.
The craft became particularly popular in Aboriginal communities, specifically in Bathurst Island and at Gunbalanya, where much of the printmaking took place on fabric instead of the otherwise popular paper (3). Over the next few decades, this style would become an integral piece of Aboriginal fashion design, with artists showcasing their work in art galleries, Parisian fashion venues, and international cultural exhibits.
Considering its humble beginnings, screen printing has certainly had an interesting journey. Today, many individuals, with or without an artistic background, are exploring the craft by attending printing classes. In fact, ClassBento offers a class in Marrickville lead by Carizza Teague who studied the art form at the Eastern Sydney Institute of Technology and has been teaching it for seven years.
You may be as surprised by a beginner’s class as I was the first time I saw a screen printing press, but there’s no doubt that you’ll enjoy your first experience. Here are a few fundamental aspects to the process that may help you prepare for your first class.
First, the materials
This type of printing requires a pretty particular set of objects. Most notably, the screen, which is generally a wooden frame fixed with a thin semitransparent film. You will also be provided with a squeegee, emulsion liquid, printing ink, and testing fabric (although you should bring your own fabric for the finished project: think tea towels, tee-shirts, or tote bag.) Your instructor will have a light box to help the emulsion process along quickly.
If most of these items seem foreign to you, that’s okay. Your instructor will explain everything!
Churning out your work
So, all you need is a screen and some ink right? Why all this other stuff?
Well, it’s a little more complex than just seeping ink through a film. Carizza’s class uses a photo emulsion method, which requires the following steps:
1. You design a creative graphic. Anything you want! Elegant lettering, your dog, your best friend, the sky’s the limit.
2. You create a transparent version of your beautiful image that will be stripped away after the emulsion process (your teacher will help you with this part.)
3. You prepare for emulsion by fixing your image to a screen, which has been covered with the emulsion liquid.
4. When you expose your screen to light, the emulsion will harden where the liquid is exposed, allowing you to eventually strip away your transparent image.
5. What is left is a kind of stencil through which you can squeeze ink onto fabrics, shirts, and paper products!
As a beginner, you will probably be satisfied with sticking to one color for your graphic, creating a minimalist work of art that will astound your friends and family. But, as you advance in your practice, this method can incorporate more and more colors into your work (just remember, each step usually requires a completely new graphic!)
In other words, whether you're interested in a novice understanding of screen printing, or you want to take it to the next level, you can be sure that there’s never going to be too little or too much that you can do with your art. You may even advance to larger printing presses!
So, don’t be shy! Anyone can make a beautiful graphic using this method, and there’s nothing quite like showcasing your work as part of your daily wardrobe.
In this day and age, everyone is busy. It seems almost a social misdemeanor to not be (or at least claim to be) busy, all the time. Many of us are working long hours, often with overtime. Some of us work weekends. With our portable devices, it’s so much easier to stay glued to work, and it’sIn this day and age, everyone is busy. It seems almost a social misdemeanor to not be (or at least claim to be) busy, all the time. Many of us are working long hours, often with overtime. Some of us work weekends. With our portable devices, it’s so much easier to stay glued to work, and it’s so much more convenient to be a workaholic. And beyond work, we often have lots of commitments.
We need time for ourselves and to find fun activities to make the most of a day at home. Time to just be in the moment, without worrying about what’s ahead and behind us. Time to unleash the creative sparks we all have inside. Time to relax, unwind, and just enjoy the simpler pleasures in life.
Every moment we invest into leisure, pays off handsomely. Studies have shown that activities like recreational classes can help to prevent workplace stress and burnout, and improve workplace performance. So it’s not just about indulgence, it’s also good sense for your career.
Our workshops are perfect for the busy professional. ClassBento has a wide variety of fun workshops in the evenings, on Saturdays and Sundays, and even during lunch breaks during weekdays. Forget about your worries, as you concentrate on making some chocolate, or arranging some flowers. Form some meaningful social connections, as you draw a portrait or play a ukulele. Broaden your perspectives, as you learn a different language, or learn about philosophy.
And it would be a minor crime for you to not invite your friends too. Put a smile on their face, by inviting them to a class with you, or say ‘take a well deserved break’, by sending them a gift card.
Check out our classes, listed on a nifty calendar, here. Add more life to your work-life balance.
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