7 ½ weeks post baby—First Cycle Class-Getting Back on the Bike

June 16th, 2014
Me pictured here with cycling Instructor, Joanna Perlmutter

Me pictured here with cycling Instructor, Joanna Perlmutter

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.

As we rode our way in a pack through the two songs, warming up the whole body, I was surprised how comfortable my body felt in the saddle and just spinning my legs. Once we started to put tension on the bike, I felt my really legs start to heat up.  I had the urge to go fast but didn’t want to burn out so I stayed with the pace. By the third song, I felt like I had never left the bike even though it has been a solid 10 weeks since I was last on a bike.

I am constantly amazed at the body’s capacity to recapture muscle memory and how encouraging that is. The music was awesome. I was completely out of my head, just letting feeling the effects of movement. Secretly grateful that I didn’t have a baby poking my ribs and sitting on my insides anymore, I was able to take deep breaths and relish in oxygenating my body. It felt sensational to soar through sprints. I spent much of the ride with my eyes closed, just enjoying the moment. When I felt challenged to keep up with a hill or lifting in and out of the saddle, I would look at my neighbour’s legs and match her pace. Before I knew it, I was sweating furiously and feeling like me!

After 40 minutes on the bike, we moved to the mat for a 15 minute core routine to strengthen the mid-section. We did a series of crunches with our legs at various heights to challenge the upper and lower abdominals. We ended with a plank sequence that again, requires that you brace your stomach muscles. You want to feel as if you are pulling your hip bones up to your ribs and your ribs down to your hip bones as if to round out your lower back ever so slightly. We did a short stretch afterwards, mainly targeting quads, hamstrings, shoulders and calves. I left happy and proud of myself, eager to get back to another class as a student again!

Things to Remember for Your First Ride Back:

-Padded Shorts are always an option

– Don’t’ forget your water bottle, especially if you are nursing

– Go at your own pace BUT challenge yourself to work hard as this time for you is sacred now

-Brace your abdominal muscles as best you can during hills, lifts and sprints

-Put your handlebars a little high if you are experiencing post-birth lower back soreness. This will offer you some relief during the sequences and keeps you from slouching down to the handlebars

– Spend extra time stretching out your shoulders (i.e. reversing your baby hunch) and calf muscles. If you experienced Charlie horse muscle spasms in your legs during pregnancy (I sure did) then your calves are going to be excruciatingly tight

– Be kind to yourself. Your body has just been rented out for 9 months and it takes time for all the inside furniture (your organs) to go back into place…or find some kind of place to exist

-Don’t wait to long to get back on the bike again or you will lose momentum!

Everything Hurt…but it was heaven.

June 2nd, 2014


sari.warriorIIvari cropped
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?

Since not practicing  vinyasa flow at full capacity since late fall, a vinyasa level 2 class may have been a little bit ambitious but I arrogantly thought because I had taught vinyasa flow up to my 39th week of pregnancy, that I would just fall right back into my groove. Joke was on me! I head out to one of my teacher’s classes, looking for some extra TLC and support both physically and emotionally. To my dismay, he had subbed out his class that morning and so I had to pull it together if I was to proceed. I contemplated for one second to go home but then I thought no- I pumped for this class, daddy is home taking care of the baby- this is ME time. I looked at the bright side; this instructor doesn’t know that I am a yoga instructor too!

We started with some core warm ups which was like a slap in the face or could you say a full body check! When the instructor asked us to find our “core connection” I chuckled to myself and said, do you have a map? I felt a gap to my center, despite my ability to engage my abdominals superficially.

We continued to heat the body with sun salutations and by the time we flowed into the third round, I was certain of the exact spot where I had received an epidural for birth. My lower back felt as if Mayweather Berry had just knocked me out with a cheap shot to the back. This feeling persisted throughout most of the standing sequences. Each flow felt as if I had aged 10 years. By the time we moved to the few seated postures, I was a hundred and 40 years old. Although I received the ok to go back to exercising from my doctor last week, when we all moved into a wide leg forward fold standing series, I cursed my doctor for giving me the green light to practice because surely I would not feel my bottom in this way if I was all healed!

When we moved to lie on our stomachs for salabasana poses (variations of locusts poses) my chest felt like overfull water balloons about to burst. I quickly turned over and found my backbend fix from 2 bridge poses, the second one being with a block placed underneath my sacrum, at that time, I laid there allowing my very round manna(s) to roll where they may.  I could smell savasana at that moment.

A short while ago a teacher asked me, what delights me in my practice. Delight in my practice is what feels real – what felt real on this morning was however rickety, painful, and discombobulating this practice was for me, I am in awe of the information that yoga feeds me; my state, what’s important to me, and reminds me to have more understanding for other’s on their journey. I also delighted in the fact that my sense of humour was not lost and my ego, though trying to make a full appearance was shelved for the most part. I modified every pose to adapt to the way my body and mind are today. I rested in child’s pose as a reminder that in caring and rearing children, pausing is essential in order to breathe wider and build your stamina.  For me my mat is a piece of heaven on earth, even through the hurt and uncertainty of when I will feel like I am back to in my practice copiously and truly.

My mat and I will meet again this week and see what is to unfold.

What I Packed as I Wait for Baby!

April 3rd, 2014


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.

Today I made sure that I had all my ESSENTIAL items packed in my hospital bag and thought I would share a few items that may be helpful to you. Refer to photos for a visual too!

  1. Firstly, I am not a breastfeeding pusher. If nursing works for you, then go for it. There are wonderful formula’s out there today as well with most all the fundamental nutrients that breast milk will give your baby.  I believe that a happy mama is a happy baby. Period. I went in with no expectations of how I would feed my baby and whatever worked, was obviously the route I was going to take. It happened that my daughter latched right away and when she did, I just thanked the heavens for Earth Mama Natural Nipple Butter. This incredible soothing healer is good enough to eat and safe for baby so that you don’t have to rub it off before you nurse. Made with cocoa seed butter, olive oil, shea butter and other delicious vegan ingredients, this non-goopy and non-toxic emollient heals anything red or cracked! $10-$14. Available at natural grocers and most baby specialty stores.
  2. During labour and afterwards, lip balm is necessary. Hospital air is dry, you will be dehydrated after birth and you don’t want your baby to feel anything but smooth lips as you bestow millions of kisses on your fresh bundle. Really, use any kind of lip balm that works for you! I am a fan of Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm as I find the moisturizing effects last longer than most (and I have tried many). I also love the smell of beeswax and coconut oil, which are two prime ingredients. Available at most drugstores.
  3. Flip Flops. After that sweat fest, a shower will be so desired by you … and your partner. I have big enough feet that my husband can squish into my flip flops but if your partner can’t, grab a pair for them too!
  4. Hard Candies. My favourties happen to be Jolly Ranchers as I love the powerful fruit flavours, not to mention they make me feel, warm, fuzzy and nostalgic for summer days. Anything that gives you the warm and fuzzies during labor and/or delivery is vital! You wont’ be able to eat anything except ice chips once labour starts or you are having a planned C section. I needed hard candies to keep my mouth moist and my energy level up!
  5. A few pairs of PJs at the hospital and a STACK for when you get home! You will want everything to be loose fitting around your body afterwards. Button down tops are convenient if you are nursing too.  The reason that I say a stack of pajamas is because over the first few days post-birth, you will pee through, sweat through, and lose many other really sexy things (NOT) that your body is trying to dispose of that will have you in a movie montage of sleepwear.   I like Joe Fresh PJ’s. They are all elastic waistbands with adjustable drawstrings, roomy, and you can usually buy them on sale. It’s worth picking up a few pairs as they are only $15-$20 each!
  6. Warms Socks. My favourites are any shade of Root’s Cabin Socks. Hospital Rooms and ORs tend to be chilly and the floors are cold.  $18 for a pack of 2.
  7. Lastly, I included a sample of my own personal playlist that is ready to go on my nano shuffle. Music is a good thing to have at the hospital. During labour and/or delivery, there is potentially a lot of waiting around and hairy moments where music is just what you need! My choice for birth is a mix of soothing sounds, my all time favourite mellow tunes, and ancient mantras of India and Tibet. The beautiful Sanskrit chants will help me to get into a groove so I can stay focused through contractions and other challenging moments during labour. Enjoy!
  8. For a full list of what to pack for the hospital, I think the bump’s list is spot on!

A Spynga Mom’s Post Natal Odyssey

March 28th, 2014


Sari and Sage belly

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!

Let me be clear. I don’t pretend to be an expert on pre/post-natal anything. Quite frankly, I believe that pregnancy and parenting is one giant science experiment with your body – and then your sanity. Just to bring a new life into the world, our physical bodies endure such unbelievable changes to accommodate such a gift.

With my first and current pregnancy, I taught 5-6 classes a week (not that I did them all to say the least) but I did keep up with my yoga practice (as modified as it became) 1-3 times a week throughout my pregnancy (depending on how queasy I was) and spinning at least once a week. In the last 4-5 weeks I have dialed that back to mostly walking down the street to my car. I am carrying this baby super low so anything physical other than a brisk, short stroll is highly uncomfortable.

As a business owner, mother of a toddler, wife, friend, and sister, life is just about to kick into another high gear state of busy-ness (a word which I have come to dislike as we are all infected with this busy-bug).

Like you, I am trying to balance work/life more than I did yesterday, become the best mom I know how to be and continue my quest to become a better human.  My weekly posts won’t be about weight loss, breast feeding vs. bottle-feeding, poop, sleep training or getting your pre-baby body back or let’s face it, even some kind of version of that. It starts with feeling human again, moving again and fueling the mommy brain with nutrients for energy as well as words of wisdom for the soul.

I truly believe it takes a village to raise a child, or at least an awesome community of experts that know more than you – so that is who I will be connecting with in the weeks to come; colleagues and contemporaries in my industry, chefs, nutritionists, doctors, business coaches, and other moms who keep it REAL and tell it like it is- beautiful, wild and crazy!  Of course I will also disclose my postnatal favorite finds, classes, recipes, places and will include lots of faces!

I will bring you all this through personal experience, experts and humour (a must!)  Please note that all recommendations of any subject are my opinions and mine alone. I will pre-suppose that you will exercise good judgment for any special conditions/injuries. Always consult your doctor or other professional before starting anything.

About Sari Nisker
As a co-creator and co-founder of Spynga® The Yoga + Cycling Studio, Sari wakes up grateful everyday that she gets to spend her time teaching her passion and empowers people to take their lives to the next level. Sari has been practicing yoga since 2000 and teaching yoga for over a decade. She has worked as a private and group instructor in New York City, Los Angeles and Toronto. Sari resigned from the corporate world, leaving a career in beauty and skincare product marketing, to rediscover the bright inner beauty inside her and guides her students to reveal their true beautiful, strong, and authentic selves through yoga. Her background includes an array of insight from the Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Yin schools of yoga. Stirred by curiosity and affection for cycling, Sari takes her yoga mantras to the bike and teaches Spynga’s® signature and trademarked class, The Spynga® Flow.  Sari challenges her students to go inward with every peddle stroke and is constantly amazed by the exhilaration of every indoor cycle ride. Sari received her 200 Hour RYTT Yoga Alliance certification from Sonic Yoga in New York; Prenatal certification from Be Yoga in New York; Yoga 4 Kids Certification from Sherry LeBlanc in Toronto, and 100 Hours of Anusara-inspired yoga, Yin Yoga Certification in Toronto and is considered an E-RYT with the Yoga Alliance. Sari received her indoor cycling instructor’s certification from Mad Dog Athletics. She is currently completing her Life Coaching Certification with Robbins-Madanes Core Coaching, an Anthony Robbins company.

Balance and Boogie: Kids Finding their Groove in Yoga

January 20th, 2014


by Ya’ara Saks

Kids live in a world with parents who are constantly plugged in, hurrying from work to playdate to homework and stressed out. Funnily enough we don’t realize that as overscheduled as we are – they are too. As adults we come to the mat to destress, let go and find balance – they reap the benefits when we come home calm and clear – why shouldn’t they have the opportunity to model us and have that time too?

Yoga for kids is the perfect antidote to all that we pile on our kids from school to sports and more.  Yoga gives them the tools of a balanced healthy outlook and strong positive connection with themselves. Already at a young age and into their teens, children often feel pressure at school academically and socially.  With the added pressure if they are involved in competitive organized sports, it’s easy for kids to become overly self-critical, and lose confidence as they grow and develop. Yoga is the chance to find the opposite – a nourishing space where there is no judgment and no need to be the “winner” or place a perfect pose.

Kids yoga gives them the place to breath, balance and boogie to their inner yogi. Here’s are my top ten reasons why kids should be encouraged to find their inner groove.

  1. Yoga lets kids unwind relax and calm themselves
  2. Yoga reduces stress in kids
  3. Yoga helps kids improve concentration, coordination and balance
  4. Yoga promotes a healthy active lifestyle in kids
  5. Yoga helps kids sleep better by releasing day-to-day anxieties
  6. Yoga helps improve their gross and find motor skills
  7. Yoga offers a space for children to express their emotional state of mind in a safe physical way
  8. Yoga increases their strength and flexibility
  9. Yoga develops their sense of self-expression and self-confidence
  10. Yoga helps a child increase their body awareness


Check out why Spynga loves kids yoga so much! For Spynga’s kids yoga schedule here

Standard Deviation CD release with Jordana Talsky

October 14th, 2013

album release poster


October 14th, 2013

galya home

Let me introduce myself. My name is Galya and I’ve recently started teaching my first spin class. I couldn’t be more excited because I’m teaching girls between 12-16! I was a pre-teen not 4 years ago. So, it is fresh in my mind. For me it was mostly uncomfortable and frustrating I think.

I wanted to teach this age group because I think it’s important to learn what your body can do and how strong you can be. I’m the type of person who needs to be moving always and spinning provides me with an outlet for me to decompress while staying healthy and active. I have tried going to the gym and running, but there’s something about sharing your ride with a room of people, even a friend, that really clicks for me. After a class I feel great about my body and my skin never looks better then after I’ve sweat for an hour! Most importantly, a good workout can change your day from bad to good! I hope what this class ends up being is 40 mins of good music and hard work. I want to help forget the stresses of the day, or spin them out on the bike, all the while feeling great because we just worked our butts off.

-Galya Bravo

Finding Your Rhythm On the Bike, Mat ..and in Life.

July 24th, 2013

As a teacher and student of yoga and indoor cycling, I find myself on this ever-(changing) mission to discover my rhythm, my groove, my flow state. On my yoga mat in a vinyasa practice, I attempt daily to symphonically move in a way that is in time with my body’s inhales and exhales. Be it through directional movements or stretching deeper into my muscles, there is a tempo that is heightened by the breath’s presence that is inherent, purposeful and fluid. While on the bike, it is the fine balance of finding just the right amount of oxygen to sustain my level of effort and exertion for a hill or a sprint.

In the context of living, discovering your rhythm (that feel-good place of inner peace) is the ultimate quest and wildest ride. I am continuously learning that this ride is a function of how to align with my emotional constitution -responding to how I’m feeling (inside) about what I’m doing (the journey). Developing this sense of awareness brings me back to my truest self, my natural place, and space of existing and living – aligning the conscious and subconscious.

The changing conditions in life can be similar to changes in postures on the mat and changes in tempo on the bike. You encounter positions that challenge you (on a climb) and understanding how the challenge makes you feel is part of the process of learning how to adapt to the change or physical stress. Do we need to make subtle or gross adjustments ( ie. breath, positioning, energy)? Can we find parallels of how we handle these tests on the bike and mat or within the context of everyday life, as tension emerges? And can we learn to find ways to quiet the mind, and listen to what the feelings, and body may be ‘saying’? This could be similar to aligning with our emotional “home or self’, or just simply paying more attention and developing a stronger sense of awareness.

The key to life is finding ways to ‘emotionally harmonize’ your body, tempo and breath with life situations that arise (postures, sequencing, climbs….) and find your path and place. It is developing this awareness that brings you back to your emotional zone—a certain way of living and existing, which is known to you even subconsciously.

At times circumstances indicate that we need to be more agile or more assertive. Other moments, we need to rest and replenish. We can’t always muscle ourselves in arm balances or push our way up heavy climbs. Being aware of our physical energy level, alignment, body parts and having the grace and integrity to know when to “lift” and when to land. Practice is essential. Building confidence and renewing your devotion to always expanding yourself.

It takes fine tuning our discerning mind so that we make the best choices for ourselves to feed that pulse to stay in our rhythm. Whether on the mat, the bike, at the office or with the kids, we can always find a moment to bring in more awareness, slow down, and tune in to our way of being and honour the rhythm of the moment.

Sari Nisker has taught yoga for over 7 years in Toronto, NYC and L.A. and is a co-creator of Spynga the Yoga and Cycling Studio in Toronto. www.spynga.comforward-fold-sari

myStory of inspiration

February 20th, 2013

My name is Danielle Adler and I am a CYCLE instructor at the SpyngaNorth studio in Thornhill, Ontario and SpyngaSouth studio in Toronto, Ontario. I have been a committed Spyngee since the first location in Toronto opened at Bathurst and St. Clair in 2007.

After I read the post below (thanks for the shout out Patrick!) I thought I’d share with all of you a bit about the journey that I have been on with Spynga for the past six years. Through postpartum depression and the insanity of having babies twenty months apart, to giant weight loss, to finding enormous reward as a stay-at-home mom, to discovering that you really can LOVE what you do for a living, and now the surgery that I will have in April to shed the skin and reshape the parts of my body that will never change, no matter how much I exercise – Spynga has been with me through it all. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Casey and Sari for opening not just a yoga and cycling studio, but a second home for me, my family, and so many women and men. A place where lives and bodies are literally transformed. My before and after pics are posted here so that you can all see that it really is possible. And it feels FANTASTIC!!
-Danielle Adler
DanielleBefore  DanielleAfter

myStory, myInspiration

January 22nd, 2013

I’m a 36 year old man that has struggled for years to lose a 30 pound beer gut that was obtained in my wilder days. Two years ago I started working with an amazing nutritionist named Daniella Wolf, who helped me realize that the combination of a sensible, balanced diet and exercise really does work to melt the pounds off. I quickly dropped 20 pounds with diet alone. Daniella continued to push exercise, and I started and stopped at a regular gym so many times I stopped counting. Finally Daniella told me of an amazing spin instructor at Spygna named Danielle Adler. She challenged me to try out a class.

In April 2012, I entered Spygna North with trepidation and butterflies in my stomach, knowing that the last time I tried spinning, I nearly lost my lunch. Danielle was very helpful setting up the bike for my height and size, and made sure to check in regularly during class to see how I was doing and correct my form. As Danielle took the class through the paces, I gradually started to figure out the positions and the form. I definitely couldn’t do everything she asked, but fell in love with sprinting to the pounding beat of the latest pop song. I exited the class that night feeling sore, but exhilarated.

After a few more starts and stops, I eventually fell into a rhythm of going to 2 to 3 classes per week. After a month, the butterflies in the stomach disappeared. After two months, those stubborn last 10 pounds I wanted to lose started to disappear also. After three, I started to be able to do everything the instructor asked. Now, after 9 months of amazing classes run by over 10 different instructors with very eclectic tastes in music and very different exercises that keep me interested and coming back, I’m happy to say I’ve lost the stubborn last 10 pounds. Can high school weight be the next goal? Who knows? All I know is that the combination of diet and Spygna has changed my life and I’m more confident then ever before that I’ll never be out of shape again. If you’re thinking of trying out a spin class I highly encourage you to think about Syngna. The instructors clearly love what they do, and inspire confidence and hard work in their pupils through their attitude, variety and dedication.

A huge thank you to Daniella, Danielle, Miriam, Nara, Amos, Joanna, Casey, Toni, Roy, Elizabeth and all the rest of the Spygna crew. Without you, I’d be on the couch watching football and feeling like crap. Instead, I’m on the couch watching football feeling amazing after a morning spin with Nara at Spygna North.

Patrick M