HALE W18 Masthead

HerCanberra gets slow at here.

Ashleigh Went

In a world when we’re often encouraged to hustle and grind, sometimes what we really need in our lives is a bit of slow.

As a deadline-driven business, things can get pretty crazy at HerCanberra. As a team, we (mostly) handle it well, but on an individual basis, I think we all feel the pressure to some degree at times. I certainly do.

So when the team at here. studio invited us to come and try their go-slow day retreat, there was an almost-audible collective sigh of relief.

here. studio co-founders Charlie and Andrea Murray know a thing or two about mindfulness. The duo opened the space with the aim of helping people to discover a slower, more mindful way to live through yoga, psychology, and Pilates.

If ever there was a perfect space to relax and embrace mindfulness, the here. studio is it. Nestled into Downer shops, the space is airy and filled with light. It’s a beautifully designed, minimalist’s dream.

We arrived at the studio and started our day with a hr. yin yoga class with Shannon. At 9 am on a normal workday, I’d be revving up for a busy day—wrangling my inbox and preparing for meetings. On this day, however, Shannon got us to slow right down, easing into a calm and relaxed state that set the tone for the day ahead.

Next, we were treated to a morning team of delicious coconut bircher muesli and green smoothies from Highroad, and batch brew coffee.

Once we were appropriately fed and caffeinated, Charlie and Andy introduced us to the concept of slow living and began a stress reduction and mindfulness workshop. We learned about mindfulness and the role that it plays in managing stress and improving efficiency in the brain.

Andy is a qualified clinical neuropsychologist, and Charlie is a physiotherapist (and teacher), so the two of them were able to fully explain not only the effect of stress on the brain but also in the body – and how we can manage those effects on a daily basis through mindfulness. They didn’t just tell us information, but asked questions and listened to us explain how our workplace functions, the pressure points and the obstacles we experience.

After the workshop, we had a break and tucked into lunch from Highroad. In line with the day’s theme, a lot of the food was slow-cooked and served on sharing plates.

Plates were piled high with 12 hour slow-cooked pork knuckle in a tomato and chili sauce, potato and jalapeño flatbread, and a chicken and quinoa salad. The vegetable options were enjoyed by the vegans and pescatarian, as well as the rest of us—the pickled peach, jalapeños, tomatoes, cauliflower, and onion was a highlight. Not only was the meal super-satisfying and nutritious, but it also provided a chance to chat, laugh and interact with each other and with Charlie and Andy.

Bellies full, we transitioned into the “go” segment of the day with a productivity and mindfulness session. This workshop focused on using our brains for maximum efficiency and we discussed different strategies that we could implement on an individual and team level. True to HerCanberra form, we spent much of the workshop chatting and before we knew it, it was time for some more yoga—but not before a quick origami activity that got us to refocus.

Our hr. vinyasa class with Zoe was very much a “go” focused class. Our team is a mix of more seasoned yogis and a few who were brand new to yoga. Both the former and latter were challenged by the class—not only physically, but from a ‘focus’ standpoint as well. By the time the hour-long class was finished, we were certainly energised.

Our next activity was a surprise: a mindful drawing class with Canberra artist and Archibald Prize finalist, Dr Tony Curran, who explained the connection between mindfulness and art. The activity was life drawing Andy in various yoga poses, but the real challenge was that rather than focusing on what our hands were doing on the page, we were to keep our eyes on Andy.

Personally, I found myself really absorbed in this activity. I don’t consider myself artistic at all, but I found myself really in ‘flow’, focused on nothing else but the task at hand. Drawing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and our finished products weren’t exactly fine art, but the exercise was challenging and very effective in getting us to focus.

After being so engrossed in what was an intensely visual task, we moved on to a different kind of sensory experience—this time with wine. Local winemaker Nick Spencer (of Nick Spencer Wines) took us through a wine tasting session, sharing with us how each variety was produced and the different tasting notes.

It was a laidback conversation where we were encouraged to chat about our own preferences and ask all our wine-related questions. It was also a wonderful opportunity to engage with each other, and the perfect note to finish the day on (and we each took away a bottle of the Gundagai Shiraz/Grenache—delish!).

While we touched on some of the practical ways to slow down and manage stress, the day was so chock-full of activity that we didn’t really get to discuss them in depth —which is why it was so wonderful to receive follow-up tasks from Charlie and Andy over the following four weeks.

The tasks each had a different focus and included different strategies that we could use, as well as a practical challenge. These follow-up messages kept the team on-track with what we’d planned to implement as a result of the retreat and reminded us of the valuable lessons we learned.

I think the best part about the retreat was the fact that it is tailored so specifically to the individual workplace. Having the opportunity to work so closely with Andy and Charlie meant that we could delve deep into the issues that we faced as individuals and as a team, and draw on their knowledge for practical ways to move forward.

Another part that we enjoyed was the way it reconnected us to each other. We were able to tune into each other in a way that we don’t get the opportunity to do in a busy workday.

It’s estimated that for every dollar invested in health and wellbeing programs, there’s a return on investment of between three and six dollars. What I can say for sure is that our team left feeling more cohesive as a team, in control and with plenty of ideas to create more productivity and less stress in our office every day.

For more information and to book your team in for a GoSlow day retreat, jump onto the here. website at www.behere.co/corporate/ or contact the studio by emailing [email protected]

The HerCanberra team received their retreat free of charge from here. This review complies with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s guidelines on Online Reviews. Read our Sponsored Post Policy if you would like more information.

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Ashleigh Went

HerCanberra ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. As someone who loves champagne and cheese almost as she loves a sweaty workout, she's all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She can usually be found with her nose in a book, planning her next adventure, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue. More about the Author

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