Spynga is special. It’s so much more than a studio to take a yoga or spin class. Spynga is a community of people that care. I’ve learned this first hand while undergoing breast cancer treatment over the past several months. I felt like I had my very own cheering squad, pushing me through to the end of my treatments. There would be days when I would not feel great but I knew that if I could make it to a class, I would always feel better. Clients and staff would always offer words of encouragement, share personal stories and ask how I was doing. This caring community spirit helped get me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
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Diane has been committed to her weekly workouts at Spynga during her chemotherapy treatments. Diane finished her treatments in April 2016
I was in the best shape of my life when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had spent the previous two years getting “fit for 40”. My plan was to spin, sculpt and sweat my way into the next decade. My birthday came and I never felt better. I had achieved my goal! I was fit at 40!
However, a few months later my world would be turned upside down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At my annual physical my doctor found a lump and a biopsy was done the next day. Five days later I received my diagnosis and I was in complete shock. I was scheduled for surgery and was told that I would be undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I couldn’t understand how a fit person that has a healthy diet and feels great can be diagnosed with breast cancer. My oncologist told me that because I was younger than the average patient and because I was physically fit I would have an easier recovery.
I would soon come to realize that achieving my “fit for 40” goal would mean much more than looking good in a pair of skinny jeans. Being fit provided me with the foundation for a quick recovery from major surgery and the ability to tolerate months of cancer treatments.
Moms are heroes. Remember those pesky little things called pregnancy and labour? Remember how much reading and preparing we did for those things? Well, creating a human inside you then pushing it out through a tiny hole is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of something harder, something you can’t prepare for, something that requires on-the-job, minute by minute training. Oh, and also, it starts right after you create a human inside you and then push it out through a tiny hole. You’re freakin’ tired, your body aches, your abs are torn apart, you might have staples in places a stapler should NEVER be and it starts whether you’re ready or not. Looking back, this is the easy part. Soon they’re walking, then talking (probably talking back) and the next thing you know they want nothing to do with you, and they leave to go to a party where you’re worried they’ll get pregnant because you probably gave them self esteem issues. (Just a little glimpse in to my scary mommy brain…)
core restore post natal recovery
There are a few things new moms want to be mindful of when returning to a fitness routine after having a baby, particularly after consecutive pregnancies. 30-40% of mothers still experience symptoms of pelvic dysfunction one or more years after giving birth (i.e. diastasis recti AKA abdominal separation, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, etc). This a significant chunk of the maternal population to be experiencing a sub-optimal recovery experience, the symptoms of which are not inconsequential.
I am one of these mothers. For me, my postnatal pelvic dysfunction was characterized by severe difficulty regenerating core strength, which as a woman who prides herself and relies upon my physical strength to live life effectively, has been devastating. I’ve also experienced stubborn knock-on effects from inadequate postnatal care that are very hard to undo. Don’t make the same mistakes I have!
Statistically I am not alone, but the sad thing is that many women suffer in silence because there is not much support or information that is readily available. Our capability, wellbeing, self-esteem and long-term health as mothers becomes compromised because we haven’t had the opportunity to recover as fully as we might have.
Flank Steak Tostadas
Food Blogger, Spynga Mom and Cook, Rachel Barbaro shares her ideas for easy, healthy and delicious weeknight fare for the fit folks on the go!
I used to take such pride in making beautiful meals and new recipes every night. And then motherhood hit me with all its love and awe and exhaustion. A few months in, it was time to stop calling for take out and get back in the kitchen. Sharing my favourite meals from my blog Friendly Food Snobs that are little weeknight wonders. They’re quick to make, high on veggies and protein and fabulous as leftovers.
Flank steak tostadas got me dreaming of a trip to Mexico. My best kale ceasar salad gets in those daily greens but in a yummy way. I love these coconut peanut butter protein balls as a snack on the go, or to nibble on when you crave something sweet as they’re high in protein, good fats and free of gluten. And to start the last of winter’s snowy mornings slow cooker steel cut oats require minimal prep but deliver a delicious breakfast as the slow cooker does all the work.
Kale Caesar Salad
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Casey with her middle son, Billy
Pregnancy took my belly for a big, bumpy, RIP roaring ride. It never occurred to me that as the baby (and your belly) grows, the chances of tearing your abdominal muscles grow as well. With each pregnancy (there were 3) my #DiastasisRecti (DR) expanded and 6 fingers deep to be precise! For those of you who haven’t heard of the DR, it is defined as a separation of your rectus abdominis, AKA your six-pack! When the abdominal muscles move aside, your uterus, bowels and other organs have only a thin band of connective tissue in front to hold them ALL in place. After baby, this condition causes your belly to stick out (yes, just like it did when I was about 5 months pregnant). I was so excited to feel good in my own body again, however, this unfortunate symptom has been quite hard at times on this mama’s soul. People (mostly women) constantly ask me if I am pregnant again. “So…you are going for the fourth?” and “When are you due?” are the most frequent questions that I get. Being a fitness instructor and wearing spandex for a living doesn’t allow me to wear “looser” attire!
After I delivered my first baby and lost all the baby weight, I was perplexed as to why the centre of my belly continued to push forward and when I started my workouts again, I could not sustain a plank position for more than a few seconds and sometimes, I needed help getting up from the ground! After meeting with my OB and a few other doctors, I quickly realized that DR is a mysterious effect of pregnancy that the medical field does not know a lot of about in terms of the conditions that cause the tear and more importantly, how to rehabilitate.
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.
Dive into the World of Yin yoga and watch the many aspects of you and your life change before your eyes.
by Naomi Zahler
Yin Yoga is a specific style of yoga that encourages the holding of supported postures for a duration of 3-8 minutes. Not to be confused with Restorative Yoga, the purpose in Yin Yoga is to support the body only enough that the “yang” tissues of the body (muscles specifically) can relax, allowing the “yin” tissues of the body (connective tissues) to find space. The muscles of our body move our skeletal system into action. The connective tissues, like our ligaments, tendons and fascia support our joints and stabilize our skeleton. If a posture is held in a “yang” way, meaning, we find sensation or depth in our postures by using large muscle groups; our connective tissue would automatically go into protective mode. In other words, if we want to release our “yin” tissues, we must let go of strain in our “yang” tissues first. The practice of Yin Yoga focuses on exploring ways of doing just that by focusing awareness onto these connective tissues of the physical body, while clearing the energetic pathways of the subtle body as they are taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine (also know as the meridian lines of the body) and using breath work to help settle the mind throughout the practice. Stillness is encouraged while holding Yin postures so that we can witness the mind as we challenge any static energy within the subtle body. This is the true beauty of Yin Yoga and also its greatest challenge. It is while we hold these postures we are able to observe our habits toward whatever emotions arise and learn to lean toward these existing habits through breath, awareness and love for the Self.
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.