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Guide: Zone Into Zen

New year, new you. Don’t fall into the trap of undoing all the restorative work you’ve achieved through unwinding over the break. We’ve sourced five local Sydney experiences that can keep your health, well-being and stress levels in check. Best of all, they’re on offer all year, so you can maintain an even keel.

Groove Therapy Fact: dancing raises the heart rate causing a release of feel-good endorphins into the bloodstream – usually more than any other form of exercise. It also helps reduce levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) which is why we usually feel happy and more relaxed after a boogie session. That said, it’s one activity we seem to enjoy the most but don’t do enough of. Why? Because of the self-conscious stigma attached to it. No Lights No Lycra was conceived in Melbourne in 2009 by two dance students who wanted to create an environment free of complicated techniques and routines, where people of all shapes and ages could dance away for a rock solid hour in a drug and alcohol free atmosphere without any inhibitions… whatsoever. Their dancing in the dark phenomenon on weeknights has since taken off in nine countries with playlists changing every single week. Wear what the hell you want and simply dance like no one’s watching because, literally, no one can see you. Pack a drink bottle – the aquatic kind! No lights No Lycra is held every Monday in Bondi and Thursday in Newtown. Lights dim at 7.30pm. Cost: $7 at the door. No Lights No Lycra

Humming harmony For a stylish way to marinate in good vibrations, step inside Redfern’s Humming Puppy. When a yoga studio wins the award for the best “workplace under 1000sqm” at the Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) – Australia’s largest and most successful independent design awards program – you know that the art of creating restorative synergies is a seriously rewarding business. The immersive journey begins from the moment you step into this Victorian building. Beyond the inviting reception and lounge area (akin to a boutique hotel), the practice room lined with large windows comprises black plywood floors and acoustic ceiling panels that absorb sound and light, enabling the space to resonate. Quite literally, your mind and body will hum during all of the four class styles offered (for beginners through to the most experienced yogis). Teachings are based upon the principles of breath-pranayama, movement-asana and awareness-meditation. For stress-free classes, simply pre book your mat and your preferred position within the room. Staff will even clean it and roll it up for you! Cost: Casual visit $35 (includes access to the lounge facilities and use of the deluxe bathroom products); 1 month unlimited from $140 Humming Puppy

Making as Meditation Over weekends try unplugging and tapping into a little home-made creativity. Megan Morton – a renowned interiors stylist and author – shares her love for all things crafty (the über cool kind) at her purpose-built Roseberry studio, The School, with classes pumping all year, ranging in length and cost. Ignite your creative spark at Megan’s own styling classes, learn the art of watercolour 101, create and glaze ceramics as though they have surfaced from the underworlds of ancient civilisations, learn the ancient art of embossing and take home your very own customised goods, and even join a photography master class with the New York-based photographer Martyn Thompson who’s clicked his camera for Vanity Fair, British Vogue, Hermès and Tiffany and Co to name a few clients. And that’s just the February line-up! The School

Free-wheelin’ flings The sidewalk outside Rapha, a café hub on Crown Street, is tightly lined with bicycles on weekend mornings (and a fair bit of lycra). But aside from its caffeinated fuel offerings and breakfasts fit to nourish a truck driver readying to straddle the Nullabor Plain, it’s an inner-city launch pad for folk itching to peddle. The Rapha Cycling Club offers group rides ranging from social meanders for beginners through to serious long haul adventures. Choose from short jaunts to the Eastern suburbs beaches or long journeys to the national parks in the North and South. No matter the length or pace, you’re guaranteed to refresh your mind in the great outdoors (and burn some serious calories too). The store above the café can kit you out in fitting attire so you at least look the part. They even off bike hire. Check out their website for regular rides you can join. Rapha

Drop-in meditation Husband and wife team Nikki and Kevin Jankelowitz offer a quiet space to relax, unwind and unclutter your mind, bringing a little clam and clarity to the CBD. Centred Meditation is an urban oasis in the heart of the city  offering a 30-minute guided meditation that you can fit into your lunch break or go to before or directly from work. There are so many misconceptions about meditation – uncomfortable cross-legged poses, an impossible to achieve stillness of mind and a pseudo spiritual bohemian philosophy that most of us can’t clutch on to most weekends let alone during manic working weeks. The pair have designed a special sequence to take professionals into a state of meditation step-by-step, starting with breathing, body scan, visualisation and then a state of effortless awareness. You’re half way on your “de-cluttering” mission the moment you step into the studio – diffusing scents, soothing sounds and a cup of herbal tea instantly cut through stress levels. Cost: Casual drop-in $16; 4 weeks unlimited from $108 Centred Meditation

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