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I remember when I began falling in love with vinyasa; not just the style of a vinyasa yoga but the beautiful sequence that is inserted between postures, that fosters heat in the body, the intense flow from the strength demanded, and the feeling of space as the body is rinsed of residual sensations from holding the previous posture. When I first began practicing, each vinyasa felt like a treat for my body; the dessert after releasing (sometimes escaping) from a series of long held postures to wash out whatever sequences we did, like they never happened but you can continue to build and feel the effects within. It was my opportunity to feel every muscle and joint working to support each other in this dance with breathe.
For clarity, the vinyasa sequence itself is low push up (aka Chaturanga), upward dog and downward dog that you will no doubt repeat 50 times in a typical power, vinyasa, Ashtanga or any other “flow” style of yoga these days.
These are 3 separate postures, merged together into a three-way relationship that not only build strength but opens the front and back body sequentially.
Each posture, with its own nuances, alignment, muscle actions, and kinesthetic qualities, that when joined together, asks us to see how they compliment each other through the use of breath and movement.
by, Charlene Yeh
Teaching Restorative Yoga is one of the most important gifts that we can give our students and ourselves. Slowing down and resting are acultural for our society, so encouraging others to rest and relax requires a deep personal commitment to exploring one’s own quiet practice. How can we hold space and create a safe environment in which others can let go, forget their worries, and rest deeply? Because being active and dynamic are usually deemed more important than quiet and passive states, as restorative yoga teachers, we must have our own inner experiences to share.
Convincing students that they need more rest and not another workout, requires a belief that there is much benefit to be gained through the restorative practice. Through balancing the nervous system, we regulate hormonal levels, decrease cortisol levels, gain better sleep and a clearer mind. The practice also helps to release tense muscles, relieve achy joints, and train the mind in transitioning from stress to calm.
My Cleanse for life story starts before I met Dr. Jodi Larry.
In April of 2014 I began spinning at Spynga as a way to train for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Spynga gave me a comfortable place to workout. The exercise felt different. The space felt warm and welcoming and I wanted to be there. I spent time on the bike thinking about my intention, I yearned to do yoga, but truly felt I couldn’t. In spin class I was hearing about gratitude and setting intentions, and I was finding that my mind was thinking about these ideas as well as patience both on and off the bike. I was starting to think more about how I could take care of myself, and what I really needed to do for me.
That summer I began following Jodi’s posts. Friends of mine had participated in the Cleanse for Life program and said it was great. I thought that maybe it would help me lose unwanted weight. Like yoga, I was pretty sure I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t give up sugar and crackers and cheese – not even for 10 days. But, somehow I found the courage and I signed up to cleanse.
At seven-weeks post baby, I woke up and no body part was screaming pain. Sleep deprived, yes, but I can cope with the fatigue much better if my body is not in any pain. After trying my first yoga class last week, I though I would brave the bike. I have to admit, I was scared to even sit on the saddle, afraid of reliving parts of childbirth and embarrassing myself with the thought of not even getting through the class!
I went to a dear friend and staff member’s class, Joanna, who is a mother of two as well. Comforted by knowing her style of teaching which is commanding, high energy as well as inclusive of all riders, I knew it would be a good class to find my legs again.
I sat next to loyal client who comes to Spynga 3 x a week and is there to work hard. She was my secret inspiration to keep pace with. Truthfully, I was just happy being in the excitement of a cycle class again. Those who are indoor riders seriously love the endorphin rush, music and challenge of it all, not to mention the continued results they see and feel in their body.
So here I am reemerging from the newborn baby bubble at 6 weeks post- pardum where, I think, you can finally semi catch your breath. Recovery from the wild ride of labour and delivery is hopefully becoming a distant nightmare or dream, depending on your experience and your body is healing, at least on the surface. Personally, I am knee deep in sleep deprivation mode where it is natural to feel like you have left your brain on most days and where 2-3 hours of snooze time feels like you drifted off for just a moment. Since my mind has been mostly occupied with feeding, poop, devising inventive ways to settle a fussy infant, and incorporating a toddler into this all – It was sadly foreign albeit natural, to turn my attention inwards.
I took my first breath with a vinyasa level 2 yoga class yesterday and besides reliving moments of childbirth again in certain poses, it was incredibly humbling on the mat for this veteran teacher and student of yoga. I have been stretching periodically since giving birth to Theodora. Mostly a few sun salutations to shake out the legs from sitting and nursing, forward folds with arms following over head to reverse my caved in chest from hovering over baby day in and day out, breathwork to get through the initial pain of breast feeding and meditating any chance I get….or is that sleeping?
So I made it. 40 weeks and no baby yet!
I was 5 days overdue with my first and beginning to think that my babies like to arrive fashionably late. What I did wake up with 2 days ago on my due date was a head cold and fever! An indication of labour or something I caught from my toddler? The latter is my guess. My daughter is a very affectionate 2 year old and is always holding hands or hugging the boogery kids when I go to pick her up from nursery school at the end of the day. Although, I have heard that when labour is eminent, symptoms are similar to that of the flu or a common cold.
So I am just resting and waiting for baby, trying everything I can to cure this cold. I need to have enough energy for the labour, delivery, and the first 2 nights with baby (yes, I did ring for a nurse to ask her what to do with my baby who wouldn’t stop crying all night as my husband, looked upon me, panic stricken as if we were in over our heads!) You need extra pre-labour/delivery sleep if you have the luxury of a little time to yourself.
I want to start off by thanking you for following me + Spynga.
As some of you know, I am one of the co-founders of Spynga the Yoga + Cycling studio as well as a mom of one amazing girl with another on its way by weeks end! As a devotee to vinyasa yoga, indoor cycling, and strength training for over a decade, being committed to practice of these kinds helped me with post-baby #1 recovery but in all honesty, the confidence that becoming mother infused, I never felt stronger in my life. My time on the yoga mat is one that is always sacred to me whether I am simply breathing, sitting still or flowing. My practice always informs me of what is truly in my heart and gives me a greater understanding of who I am daily. Whether my intention is to restore, strengthen, ground, or explore, teachings of self-respect and self-love is what continuously shines through and enhances my connection to those I meet on my path, my higher self and all phenomena. The magic I feel as a student and teacher never dulls and is ever evolving. My affection for indoor cycling, originally inspired by my business partner and dear friend Casey, is the one activity that makes me feel physically and mentally powerful and clear. It is a rush like no other and I love conveying that through my classes. I learned over the years that stability serves as an essential component to a lifelong physical practice and discovered that strength training helps to prevent injuries and gives me the equilibrium to challenge myself. I truly believe in these physical, mental and spiritual modalities in conjunction with fueling your body and heart with love, good food and GREAT people!