Sarah Larson Levey is a yoga instructor and the co-founder of cult-favorite yoga studio Y7 Studio, known for its great playlist (think of your favorite dance club, minus all the spilled drinks), heated infrared-powered rooms, and A-list celebrity clientele (Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, for one). But don’t mistake Y7 for another intimidating yoga class—the ambiance has always been welcoming and fun, and reflects Sarah’s own sense of levity about the fitness and wellness world. In 2020, she and her husband, Mason, welcomed their son, Lee, into the family. We chatted with the new mom about pregnancy cravings, the vulnerability of sharing miscarriage stories, and the benefits of hiring a sleep coach.
How did you take care of yourself during your pregnancy? Congratulations on your baby boy, by the way!
My approach has always been that what’s good for one person might not feel good for another person. I had a really rough first trimester—I was sick pretty much constantly. As much as I wanted to be that healthy person getting greens into my diet, really all I ate was bread. I became a bread connoisseur.
Did you accompany your bread with any yoga poses?
I have sciatica, so my back is prone to having little spasms if it gets too stressed. Because I gained weight and was carrying a load, I wanted to make sure that my back would never be an issue. So, I did a lot of core strengthening. Anything that stretched my back was so key for me during my pregnancy. I wanted any exercise that could be heart-opening, chest-opening, and lengthening. It was a huge component of the type of movement I did, which helped me ease into my growing body.
That’s a great movement tip for anyone who’s expecting.
You’re putting all this extra weight on one side of your body, so it’s uneven. And after you have the baby, you’re constantly bending over when you’re breastfeeding. Your shoulders are constantly slumped over. I knew i had to set myself up for success, especially because I knew I was going to be on the lazy side once my son was born. You’re tired and healing, after all.
What about your beauty and body care routine? Did you do anything to prep for birth?
I used the Soothing Baby Massage Oil constantly. I didn’t want stretch marks—and I don’t have any on my belly. I use the Multi-Purpose Healing Balm for my dry skin and my son’s dry skin. He’s starting to get dryness around his mouth, as he’s drooling and sticks everything he can found in his mouth, so we’re both using that. I use the Baby Moisturizing Lotion on him, too. He’s very well taken care of, skin-wise.
Better than most men! What was it like having a baby during this pandemic?
After being in Manhattan for 10 years, we left in the middle of March when everything shut down. Lee was my third pregnancy—I had two miscarriages before him. I was on the low-risk end of high-risk pregnancy. I was not prepared to give birth without my husband, and I had this residual anxiety from my miscarriages—even though my pregnancy ended up being fine. We made the decision to go back to Michigan, where both of us grew up, and I gave birth to Lee there. The best part was being able to have my parents with us. We lived with my parents, and having their support and watching them spend time with their first grandchild was really special for me. I think everyone appreciates the extra time we get to spend with our kids right now.
I obviously don’t remember my parents with me when I was a baby. So, it’s fun to see them from a different light.
We’re so sorry about your miscarriages. Thank you for sharing that with us. Chrissy Teigen and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have also recently shared their stories of losing their baby with the public, and we’re glad that they received more support than criticism. Tell us about your own journey into going public about your miscarriages.
I did not talk about my first one. I had been on birth control for 15 years, and when I turned 30, I went off birth control and I was pregnant in a day. It happened really fast. I don’t think my husband and I prepared to get pregnant that quickly. We were thrilled, but I miscarried around 11-and-a-half weeks. It was really tough. I was the first one of my friends to be pregnant, and we didn’t really have a support system. My second pregnancy ended up being a blighted ovum around six weeks. I had to have D&Cs (dilation and curettage) in both instances because my placenta kept growing. I didn’t miscarry naturally. After my second D&C, I started to talk about it—and the support and sharing of similar stories really came out. It was shocking to me that this is taboo talk because it’s so common.
I also find it fascinating that we are told from such a young age that if you have sex, you will get pregnant. We’re not told anything about how our bodies actually work. With Lee, it took us a good seven months to get pregnant. When I really started looking into it, I found that there are literally two days a month when you can get pregnant.
If I had known all of these things in my early twenties, I would have frozen my eggs, no questions. I would have frozen them because I have goals to accomplish. We’re so uneducated about what’s going on with our bodies and we put ourselves on a timeline for marriage and relationships and when we’re supposed to achieve things. Just freeze your eggs and call it a day. That way, there's no pressure with relationships—you’re not going into relationships for the wrong reasons or on a timeline. It takes a lot of pressure off women to hit these milestones.
Thank you so much for being open about your regrets, too. Tell us about how you and your husband, Mason, who is also your Y7 co-founder, split up parenting duties—especially since you’re also business partners and have been sharing the work for a long time.
Either of us can do anything. I take all my meetings in the morning from 8:00 A.M. to noon. And Mason watches the baby during naps. And then we flip flop in the afternoon. That’s how we’ve been splitting our schedule since we don’t have childcare right now. I usually change the big poop because I’m better at it. I’m not a morning person, so I will do the night feedings if Lee wakes up at all.
Your entire Y7 team is remote right now, right? And you’re offering digital classes.
Yeah, we got rid of our office and we decided for the foreseeable future that we would be a remote team. I want to give everyone the opportunity to spend time with the people they care about, especially right now. Yes, work is important, but so is family. That’s what it’s about. We’re in the health and wellness industry and you have to take care of yourself and your health. And family is such a big, important part of that.
Are you teaching right now?
No. I could, but I’m not. When I started Y7, I wanted the focus to be on the client, not the teacher. Our community is really about self-exploration with the dark rooms and no mirrors. It’s not about the coolest teacher and being in the front row.
What are you doing these days to relax, then?
The best thing we ever did for ourselves was hiring a sleep coach, Xan Coffman of MyBaby Sleepology, because this little nugget was not sleeping. I was up four times a night. So, we hired a sleep coach. She did it all virtually and basically gave us his nap schedule, bedtimes—everything. We learned what to do if he skipped a nap or took a short nap. She was so incredible. So now, my son goes to bed by 6:45 P.M. and then I have the whole night to myself. Giving myself time was the best thing we ever did.
That’s great advice for new parents. What is your Eden?
We’re kind of nomadic right now, so I’d say Eden is wherever I’m with my husband and my son. Fitness was one of the industries that got hit the hardest in Manhattan, and it ripped everything away from us. We had a two-bedroom apartment where we planned to raise our son. Every physical space I had was gone. So, Eden is a place in my heart.
Looking back on 2020, how will you reflect upon this year?
I’m grateful for the ability to have spent time in Michigan where my husband and I grew up. A lot of my childhood friends still live there, and I haven’t been able to spent that kind of time with them in decades. And having my parents spend time with Lee has been really special.