Skip to main content

Like Peanut Butter and Jelly: Classes that Just Go Together

Fiona writes about her experiences taking dyad classes: classes taken in pairs!

Fiona writes about her experiences taking dyad classes: classes taken in pairs!

At Carleton, you take three classes per term. Usually, these classes have no relation to each other. However, sometimes classes are offered in pairs! This is pretty rare, but when it happens you get to dive into a topic from countless angles. I’ve taken one official dyad and one ‘pseudo-dyad’: one on the Japanese Tea Ceremony and one on yoga!

Fall 2021: Tea and the Vessels that Hold It

During my first term of sophomore year, I took two classes about the Japanese Tea Ceremony and traditional Japanese ceramics. The dyad was taught by Katie Ryor in art history and Kelly Connole in studio art.

ARTH 266: The Japanese Tea Ceremony

The first half of this dyad is an art history class (this class also falls under Asian Studies) that looks at the history of tea in Japan. We learned about tea being brought over from China, and the many uses tea had before the development of the tea ceremony (chanoyu). Traditional chanoyu is a formal and complex event. In Japan, there are dedicated tea rooms that the ceremony takes place in. There are also strict rules outlining proper attire, manners, and even how the tea is consumed.

Man sitting at a table with numerous tea bowls leading a tea ceremony
Moment from our field trip to St John’s Pottery. We were led through part of a tea ceremony! Photo courtesy of David Ahrens ’22.

Our class also looked at each individual vessel and utensil used in the tea ceremony. Traditionally, every piece of the tea set is hand-made and high quality. We also took time to dive into the history of ceramics in Japan. This included regional materials and techniques, as well as the life work of master potters.

The class culminated in a showing and critique of tea sets that we made. Each person chose a theme for their set, and mine was springtime. As such, my tea set has lots of visual references to plants and growth.

ARTS 236: Vessels for Tea

The second half of this dyad is a ceramics class! In this class we learned some traditional methods of making tea bowls. We incorporated hand building, slab construction, as well as wheel throwing. In terms of materials, we tried to get as close to authentic as possible. Some of our clay was raku, which is traditionally used in Japan for low-temperature kiln firings.

Wet vase, newly thrown on the potter's wheel
My vase I made for my tea ceremony, newly thrown on the potter’s wheel.
Finished vase
After firing and glazing!

My favorite part of this class was the fact that we got to meet experts in chanoyu as well as pottery. We bussed up to St John’s Pottery, where a master potter guided us through a ceremony! We even got tea caddies made by an apprentice potter as gifts.

In addition to the potter from St Johns, we also met master potter Shumpei Yamaki! He came down to Carleton to demonstrate throwing on the wheel. He also took part in our end of term wood firing and potluck.

Shumpei Yemaki throwing a tea bowl 'off the hump'
Shumpei Yamaki demonstrating how he throws a tea bowl ‘off the hump’.

Spring 2022: Yoga—Study and Practice

I also took an unofficial dyad of classes during my sophomore spring. The main part of this pair was in the religion department. We learned about the history of yoga as it relates to Hinduism and Buddhism. We also worked with Carleton’s resident Yoga instructor to incorporate practice into the class. While not required, there were some in the class who simultaneously took a yoga PE class.

RELG 237: Yoga: Religion, History, and Practice

Religion 273 is a new class taught by Kristin Bloomer. In this class, we learned about yoga from its roots. In the US, we tend to think of yoga as just pose based exercise, or asana practice. The reality is that yoga is a multifaceted practice that asana is only a small piece of.

Much of the reading we did for this class came from ancient texts like the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutra. We also learned about its role in modern Hindu/Buddhist practice, as well as how yoga made its way to the United States. A few times during the term, we invited experts in to guide us through various practices. This included Indu Arora, who shared mudras with us, as well as Roger Jackson, who led us through a tantric meditation.

Stack of two books: Mudra and Yoga by Indu Arora
Books on Yoga and Mudra gifted to us by Indu after her visit to our class!

PE 198: Continuing Yoga 

Taking a yoga PE class along with the religion class was a really cool experience! Michelle Moad was the yoga instructor for both courses, so there was some overlap in our practices. We incorporated things like mudras and yamas that we learned about in religion class.

Yoga class moving through Warrior I
Yoga class taking place in Cowling Gymnasium

Taking a westernized yoga class while learning about yoga’s roots really opened my eyes. The yoga that we do in the US hardly resembles the practice that takes place in South Asia. But by knowing more of the history, I think that more appreciation and respect can be given to the practice.

Fiona (she/her) is a rising Junior from Stoneham, MA who is majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in Philosophy. On campus, Fiona works at Carleton’s music venue, The Cave, and is one of many admissions bloggers who is a DJ on KRLX. She is also a defender on the women’s club lacrosse team, and takes yoga classes wherever they fit into her schedule. In her down time, you can find Fiona going for walks in the Arboretum, listening to a podcast, or grabbing a dessert from Cakewalk