If you’re reading this magazine, you probably already know how healing yoga can be. This month’s cover teacher, Briohny Smyth, is rediscovering that truth now after she and her husband, Dice Iida-Klein—who is also her co-teacher and business partner—began talking about splitting up. Briohny asked to share some of her recent revelations with the YJ audience, and I found them to be beautifully honest and inspiring—and a testament to the power of yoga and community. Here’s a tiny snippet of our conversation:
Carin Gorrell: Please, share what you’re comfortable sharing. How has yoga helped you recently?
Briohny Smyth: Yoga has been a lifeline for the past couple of months. It slows everything down and gives you the opportunity to peel away the layers of the onion. The last thing I would want to do is use my practice to sweep things under the rug. It’s been really important to feel through my practice—to open up my body and feel how certain poses affect my emotions. Every time I feel negativity, coming back to the mat has been a refuge and a sanctuary.
CG: I find that in times of trouble, yoga can become more of an escape, rather than the place I go to sit with my emotions and peel back those layers. Do you struggle with that, and how do you bring yourself back?
BS: You’re so right: Yoga can become an escape. It’s great because it opens you up and gives you space and clarity in the chaos of your mind. But if you don’t do anything with that clarity, it becomes an escape—”I did my yoga; all is good.” For me, the key part of opening up and actually doing the work is meditation. Meditation is traditionally used to clear or calm the mind, but I think that before you can get there, you have to work through all the stuff that is the chaos of your mind. Not all of this stuff is real, but you still have to work through it.
CG: You and Dice have decided to continue to teach together. It must be so hard to have your private life play out in a public forum—your teacher trainings, social media, this magazine!
BS: We’ve been somewhat public about our relationship challenges; it’s been a rocky road. Social media has been really difficult. You realize how as a public figure, people look up to you, and it’s hard to say, “Hey, I’m not perfect, and we’re not perfect, and we’re doing the best we can.” I’m thankful for yoga and the community, because people are so giving and so honest and real. And sharing is very healing: You talk about it out loud, and you live less in your own mind and in your shadows.
CG: Do you have a mantra or words of wisdom that you
BS: “Pain that has not yet come is avoidable.” It’s also a sutra, roughly translated. What I mean by that is not that you don’t want to experience pain, but that you can learn from your experiences and not experience the same pain again.
CG: What is your favorite pose and why?
BS: Inversions are my favorite, because turning yourself upside down gives you a moment to reflect. It takes all of your focus. Very rarely am I upside down thinking, “Hmm, my problems in life…” An inversion is a full-body engager; therefore, it’s a full-mind engager.