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Overcome your deepwater fears with confidence

Adult swim classes

It might be a surprising fact that two-thirds of U.S. adults are afraid of swimming in deep water like lakes and oceans, and almost half also fear deep water in swimming pools. Even those with some swimming skills, like being able to tread water or do the front crawl, still struggle with fears and phobias related to deep water. Many fear becoming overwhelmed in the water and being unable to stay afloat if their feet can’t touch bottom.

These fears can be overcome by developing comfort and control in the water. It is about learning confidence in the water, and being able to keep a calm head in situations when fear or panic might set in. It is important, in general, to be able to stay calm in crisis situations, but many people struggle to do so when automatic responses to stress and fear (like fight or flight) kick in.

Orca Swim School redefines swimming and water safety and the ways in which these skills are taught, especially to those with deep-seated fears that might have lasted a lifetime. Founded in 1999 by Cori and Bruce Myka, Orca Swim School specifically addresses fear in the water for adults and teens.

Founder Cori began teaching swimming at the age of 14 and uses the Miracle Swimming™ method. “We define swimming as being able to move in water from here to there with comfort and ease, getting air and rest when you want,” Cori explains.

Think of Orca Swim School’s classes as therapy for water phobias, as well as classes for developing a sense of comfort and safety in the water. Fear of water deters many people from enjoying their life to the fullest, even avoiding vacation spots that they might otherwise love to visit or skipping time at the pool with their kids.

One former student said, “Since our lessons, we have taken our kids to local pools and also to the pool while on vacation and each time, we had a total blast. We were able to play, go diving for things, play catch, do handstands, and just overall be relaxed and have fun. We just kept looking at each other and saying, ‘this is amazing’.”

Cori and her team address the root causes of swimming discomfort by engaging students in a process that goes beyond the basics of strokes and lap swimming. “Learning to swim needs to start with feeling and being safe, learning by curiosity, understanding how water works, and how your body and water work together,” says Cori.

With classes available in Seattle, Bothell and Bellevue, Orca Swim Schooloffers a new understanding of water safety and healing experiences for those with fears and phobias related to water.

There is a whole world of wonder and delight out there that can be enjoyed to its fullest by increasing your confidence in the water. So get your feet wet with Orca Swim School and you could be swimming, snorkeling, and even scuba diving by summer.

Orca Swim School Classes can be found on

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Jumpstart Your Personal Renaissance With Wellness Classes!

spiratuality, meditation, zen



When the world is confusing and things are tough, sometimes the best way to start feeling better is to focus on your personal wellness, both physical and spiritual.  We work with a number of providers who are specialists in the health and wellness space and who are deeply passionate about helping people reach their greatest potential. In this article, we would like to introduce you to some of them and get you on track towards a personal renaissance.

1Embrace the Yogi Lifestyle With Aham Yoga and Arundhati Baitmangalkar

A recent transplant from South India, Arundhati started her Seattle-based yoga studio to bring the best of yoga philosophy and practice from her homeland.  Yoga transforms people’s lives and Arundhati brings the best in both physical and spiritual practices of yoga.  Yoga is among the safest ways to beat stress, depression, improve posture & flexibility, enhance strength and improve concentration. Modern research is uncovering more benefits of yoga each day!

Even though there are differences, yoga unites people all over the world. We may be different on the surface but we all seek the same goals of good health and liberation. The paths we take towards yoga are many, but in the end they all unite. – Arundhati B.

Aham Yoga offers classes, retreats, pre-natal yoga, teacher training, trance dance, meditation, Ayurveda, and much more!

I highly recommend this place. Arundhati is one of the very few people in the area teaching the traditional vinyasa and hatha yoga – Dmitry T

3Tap Nature’s Healing Bounty With Herban Wellness

Seattle’s Herban Wellness is a unique resource for learning how to use herbs, tonics, teas, essential oils, and aromatherapy to guarantee better physical health as well as reduce stress, cure insomnia, head off anxiety, and promote relaxation and calm.

Founder Katya Difani is a cultural anthropologist who went on to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Herbal Science from Bastyr University.  She has deep expertise in over 100 different plant species that are known to aid or cure a wide range of health and wellness issues.

Beyond herbal medicines and nutrition, she has been exposed to many other forms of healthcare, including naturopathic medicine, acupuncture & Chinese medicine, homoeopathy, chiropractic medicine, and various forms of energy or touch healing. She believes all health and wellness tools have their place and can be uniquely suited for each situation and person.

Classes with Herban Wellness include skincare, herbal support for health and wellness, and aromatherapy.

4Dive Deep Inside With Psychic Awakenings

Psychic Awakenings provides a safe space for sensitive people to develop their psychic abilities. Once psychic or extrasensory abilities are developed, the teachers believe it is possible to commune with the Universe and receive answers to your questions.  Uncovering one’s life purpose is a deeply transformational process for many students.  It also helps considerably with learning to develop better relationships with others.

Director Madeline Hartman brings extensive experience in both conventional and alternative counseling. Since 1980 she has offered spiritual counseling in the form of readings, healings and psychic development classes. Her training began at the Berkeley Psychic Institute/Church of Divine Man where she was ordained as a spiritual minister. While at Berkeley she taught meditation and healing classes for five years.

With classes ranging from Psychic Tools 101 to Healing Hands, Psychic Awakenings helps its students learn to work with their innate energetic abilities.

Your Renaissance Has Begun!

Being healthy and feeling well inside and out are the first steps in creating a personal renaissance!  When you feel great you can do more and greet each day with enthusiasm.  Register for upcoming classes and jumpstart your journey towards a better you!

Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.






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Learning Experiences Are the Very Best Gifts!

Holiday classes

We used to think that human brains are vessels to be filled with things they need to know.  But we all know that lecture-based teaching often puts learners to sleep!  Thankfully, there has been a renaissance in learning in recent years.  For example, project-based learning is now of major interest for both kid and adult learning.  Learning, it turns out, is an individual effort that relies on a person’s passion to learn new things.  Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin

We must be involved and engaged to truly learn, and if you want to learn new things, or want to help a loved one learn, knowing how we learn best will help.  It can also help people discover how much they love to learn and create, which as we know, makes us all happier!

What fuels our passion? 
Learning happens naturally when the subject matter is something we’re intrigued by.  Know someone who loves home improvement shows?  Gift them a woodworking or remodelling class!

How do we learn best? 
Some of us thrive while reading or writing, but many of us are visual or kinesthetic (learning by doing) learners.  Young learners, in particular, can struggle in school where they need to sit still, so show them how much they love to learn with a class or workshop tailored to their interests.

How do we learn tangible skills like cooking, arts, crafts, or DIY?
There has long been a tradition of teaming masters like chefs and artists with apprentices to learn their craft.  Many of us need to watch skilled practitioners and learn skills and tips step-by-step.

How do we remember what we learn? 
While we might immediately forget a chapter we read in a how-to book or even the content of a video, hands-on learning experiences allow us to learn while getting feedback from experts.

What can we learn that will make a difference to our lives?  
Improving career and business skills, as well as life skills like relationships, benefits us enormously.  It’s so important to stay current, even if it involves learning about something we’ve never heard of!

We’d love for you to give the gift of experience this holiday season!  Gift certificates are available!  Great gifts for far-flung loved ones, or even for a class you can take together!  One of our grandmothers decided on sushi-making classes for her 12-year old grandson – what can you choose to wow those you love?

Want to learn how to do something life-changing?

Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.



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In Stressful Times, Inner Peace is The Way – 10 Tips to Get You There

stressful times

It’s been difficult to watch the eruption of discord and violence that has been all around us recently.  A lot of us are finding it challenging to know how to respond, especially as our deep-seated urges for peace and stability seem to be called into question.

Here are 10 ways to discover the peace within you, and to share it with others:

  1. Educate yourself – spirituality, philosophy, and other reflective practices will help you find your center, and will keep you grounded in these tumultuous times.
  2. Cultivate awareness, compassion and empathy to help you understand diverse points of view and to respond appropriately.
  3. Learn to use your voice to promote the world-view that is most meaningful to you  – read and watch things that make you feel good and don’t forget to share them with others!
  4. Engage in daily practices to re-connect with your body – yoga, surfing, hiking, walking, and meditation will add a bit of zen to your days.
  5. Treat yourself well – endulge in pleasures that engage your senses, like massage, dancing, and aromatherapy.  Invite loved ones, too, and foster the peace between you.
  6. Bond with those closest to you – doing fun things together and learning new things strengthens your connections.
  7. Make new friends with shared interests, or even find kindred spirits – join communities that resonate with you, and learn with like-minded people.
  8. Remind yourself that together we can achieve great things – baby steps matter, and each and every voice counts, so keep the faith that our topsy-turvy world will right itself.
  9. Share your spiritual journey and skills with others – people need to understand that there are alternatives to being stuck in a rut.
  10. Remember that you are loved, and work on confidence, self-esteem, and forgiveness of self and others.

Classes to Support You in Your Journey Within




Want to learn how to do something life-changing?

Check out thousands of upcoming classes on Connect2Classes.

Enter your interests and receive $10 off your first class!


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At Salmon Bay Paddle, Getting Wet Is Part of the Fun

paddleboarding SUP classes

Getting wet is nothing new for Rob Casey.

But the founder of Salmon Bay Paddle knows it is one of the biggest barriers for those new to stand-up paddleboarding.

Find and Register for Paddleboarding Classes

“We recently started getting everyone wet before they got on the board, so they’re not worrying the whole time about falling,” he says. “We teach them how to fall safely, so they don’t hit their head. Then we’ll have people, by the end of the lesson, walking to the back of the board popping the nose up and doing 360’s. They learn three different ways to climb back on the board, do more 360’s, fall in again, and now their skills are 50 to 60 percent higher than if they tried to do it themselves.”

Casey did have to do it himself. He began kayaking in 1999 and was leading guided tours when stand-up paddleboarding (or SUP for short) came to Seattle around 2006, more in a trickle than a wave. By 2009 REI had jumped on the bandwagon, bringing SUP to the forefront, and a demand for classes along with it. By that point, Casey and a small contingent in Ballard had taught the form to themselves through trial and error. He was prepared to teach others how to paddle and, perhaps more important, fall.

“We embrace falling. If you’re not falling, you’re not having a good time,” Casey insists. “If you don’t fall, you can’t climb back on the board.”

A few controlled falls may make all the difference between a Sunday jaunt and a catastrophe, between a quick recovery and an embarrassing swim back to shore. Casey knows; he’s had his share of falls. But at Salmon Bay Paddle, Casey fights fear with familiarity. Often before they hit the water, students convince themselves that their balance is off, they’re not strong swimmers, or even that the board won’t hold them. He’s heard it all before, often three times in the same day. Casey meets these concerns with the preparation of an Eagle Scout and a devil-may-care attitude that puts everyone at ease.

“If I get someone that sounds nervous on the phone, I’ll bring them a bigger board than needed for their particular height and weight, so they’re standing up, no problem,” he says. “We even carry larger boards on the water in case that doesn’t work out. Last summer we had someone 405 pounds, a former L.A. Raiders linebacker, arthritic on top of that. We found a huge board for him, got him up, and he did fine. And we took him through Deception Pass after that. So that fear goes away pretty quickly.”

Standing up is only the beginning. Seattle’s shipping channels make it the perfect place for thrill-seekers like Casey to use paddleboarding as a substitute for surfing. Once a student has got her sea legs, Casey looks out for wakes from container ships, swells, and other ways to test the boundaries. “It’s not always the size of the wave, so long as you’re catching the ride,” he muses, remembering a lady in her 60s who for four straight hours was “hooting and hollering all the way to shore.”

Of course, there are also benefits to just taking in your surroundings. “You can stand up on the board and look down, see all the fish swimming around you,” Casey says. “We have harbor seals swimming with us in two feet of water. The little benefits like that make me want to keep going.”

Go ahead, get wet! Find classes here. 

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Levitas Takes Yoga to New Heights

Levitas Takes Yoga to New Heights

Instructor Sam Witala learned aerial yoga from the best. Now she’s passing it on.

Her clothes are black, her voice is quiet, and in her clipped sentences the concept of “zen” goes completely unmentioned. In short, Sam Witala is not your mother’s yoga teacher. But then Levitas Yoga is no ordinary studio. And aerial yoga is no passing fad, even if the phrase sounds like something out of Portlandia.

Discover Yoga and other Health and Fitness Classes

For her and for many of her current students, aerial yoga is a necessity. “I have back problems,” she says. “I often would hang off the edge of the couch, just to try and release the spine. So my boyfriend and I traveled down to Portland—it was the closest studio we could find—to take a class. It was a lot of fun, I went back again, and then I was like, I don’t want to go back to Portland every time I want to do this!”

So Witala dove in headfirst, the same way she encourages new students. Her training started not in a candlelit studio or some far-flung retreat, but in one of the most competitive settings the U.S. has to offer: Broadway. Founded in 1991 by veteran aerial choreographer Christopher Harrison, AntiGravity Airbarre was the first company to bring aerial yoga to the masses, literally writing the book on safety standards and certification and rigging the equipment that makes flight possible.

“[Harrison] said a lot of the trapeze performers would just hang upside-down to relax and stretch. So he took it from there and created a program around that, rather than high-flying performing,” Witala explains. Since its near-accidental inception, the practice has helped people become more conscious of what their bodies need. The practice, built on stretching, is a great way to rehabilitate muscles while facilitating other fitness routines. Marathoners, cyclists, and yogis can all benefit–some even use the class to train for acrobatics.

She emphasizes it’s not just for performers or athletes­—everyone can gain a deeper physical connection from the practice. With regulars from Amazon, Microsoft, and countless start-ups, Witala’s little Belltown studio is making a notable difference in Seattle’s professional community. “I get a lot of people who say they don’t think they’ve ever felt their spine lengthen like this before. A lot of people who sit at desks all day,” she laughs. “I’ve got a group of regular students who have no problem popping out of their spot and helping others. That helps build community as well.”

Far from cornering the market, her aim is to expand it. Levitas has trained most of its own teachers, and Witala seems relaxed about the possibility of competition, pointing to several former students who have gone on to open their own studios.

That said, Witala knows it can be hard to start. “I tell people ahead of time that the first class they take is going to feel awkward. Like a juice cleanse, you feel kind of icky going into it.” There’s also a fear aspect—even though the hammocks are built to hold thousands of pounds. “We usually do two inversions in each class, because every one gets easier, once you get more comfortable with it. And then it becomes a good experience versus a terrifying one.” Find Levitas and more Yoga classes at

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Reiki – Relieve Stress Naturally


One of the most common causes of stress today is our tendency to try to micro-manage everything — and when things don’t go our way, our stress levels increase. Stress wreaks havoc in our lives manifesting in ways that adversely affect our bodies, minds and even our relationships. And, of course, when that happens, things just get worse.

If you’re overwhelmed with stress and you know it’s time to do something about it, Reiki might just be the answer you seek.

What is Reiki?

Most practitioners and clients will tell you “it’s hard to explain” but to put it as simply as possible, Reiki is energy that supports the mind/body/spirit’s natural ability to heal. Though it is considered a “spiritual” practice, it has nothing to do with religion of any kind.

Reiki is an excellent practice to achieve relaxation, stress reduction and overall healing. It’s a practice that has become more and more popular since so many of us have come to embrace the value of alternative methods of healing over popping pills that numb the mind.
While studies conducted on Reiki have been inconclusive, some boast excellent reports while others claim nothing more than a placebo effect. Let me ask you this… What value would you put on the words of those who believe the most important value they get from practicing Reiki is peace of mind?

When you have peace of mind, everything is easier, flows more smoothly and, even when things don’t go your way, it feels as though there’s a greater purpose at work. Accepting life’s twists and turns helps you discover new paths and new strengths — and stress? Well, let’s just say it becomes mostly a thing of the past.

Did we pique your curiosity? Good! That’s exactly our intention. We are fortunate, here at Connect2Classes, because we have several courses offering you a chance to experience Reiki healing first hand.

Or if you would prefer to take a look at alternative Body, Mind and Wellness courses, we have a veritable cornucopia of classes available. We invite you to browse to your heart’s content. (It’s quite relaxing!)

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Be Good to Your Brain: Learn Something New!


Brain training is big business, with all kinds of brain games touted as a way to help prevent memory loss. But new research shows you might be better off learning a challenging new hobby.


To test this theory, Dr. Denise Park, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Dallas, randomly assigned 200 older people to different activities. Some learned digital photography. Another group took up quilting. “Quilting may not seem like a mentally challenging task,” Park says. “But if you’re a novice and you’re cutting out all these abstract shapes, it’s a very demanding and complex task.”

The groups spent 15 hours a week for three months learning their new skills. They were then given memory tests and compared with several control groups.

“Rather than just comparing them to people who did nothing, we compared them to a group of people who had fun but weren’t mentally challenged as much,” Park says. That “social group” did things like watch movies or reminisce about past vacations. Another control group worked quietly at home, listening to the radio or classical music or playing easy games and puzzles.

Park’s research, which was published in the journal Psychological Science, showed that not all activities are created equal. Only people who learned a new skill had significant gains. In fact, the improvements in memory were maintained a year later.

Here are some ideas for classes that can challenge your brain:

  • Learn to use Photoshop: manipulating photographs is fun, but it is also complex and creative.
  • Take up an instrument: If you have always wanted to play the piano or the clarinet, take some lessons. It’s never “too late.” You may find a hidden talent or passion, and either way, you’ll stimulate your mind in a new way.
  • Learn a new language. A 2010 study (Craik et al., 2010) claims bilingualism can delay dementia by as much as five years. To put that in context, the effect on dementia of learning a second language is greater than anything achievable by medicine.

So Vamos a aprender!
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