When I saw your video I was floored. The grace and strength you demonstrated coupled with the artful angles captured the essence of yoga perfectly. How long did it take you to reach the level of your current practice?
Although I have been practicing Yoga almost half of my life (15 years), arm balances and inversions weren’t a huge focus until 4 years ago when I started taking Kathryn Budig’s class. She made them so fun and accessible that I was immediately hooked. In the past I thought that these advanced asanas would bring my ego into my practice but I soon realized that my ego would never get me to my goals. Instead, I learned to practice patience and dedication and soon enough I began to find these truly amazing asanas. I got stronger in both my body and mind. All of a sudden it wasn’t just physical growth but a tremendous amount of strength gained mentally. I feel so blessed to be engaged to one of the most passionate teachers I know, Dice Iida Klein. Thanks to him, I have been able to grow my practice to where it is. He gives me a safe space to explore and try new things. I believe that Yoga is a life long journey. It will shift and change to suit your life as YOU grow and change. I am constantly humbled by this practice. The moment you think you know it all…it will remind you that you are forever a student.
What types of conditioning did you do to attain some of those badass moves ie. handstand to Koundinyasana and the one that is killing me — handstand to crane 🙂
Finding ‘planch’ is the key to both of the transitions in question. Basically, being able to slowly descend from the handstand. Start with handstand to Chaturanga. Slow it down by bending the elbows slightly and keeping them close to your body with the shoulder blades down the back. Then, once that is feeling pretty good, start to lean forward into the fingertips like a press to handstand. At first, it might be scary but that leaning forward will help you get into Bakasana (crane) and Eka 2 from handstand.
Did you think the video would be as successful as it is? It is now up to 2.8 million views on YouTube.
None of us involved were looking for fame…we were just all really happy to make something beautiful that represented our passion for Yoga. I am so grateful for the many people who love the video..and even for those who don’t.
What was the biggest change that you noticed after the video aired? ex. more facebook friends, invites to do workshops etc.
The biggest change that I experienced, aside from the things you mentioned above, is really a change in my own perspective. I’ve always viewed the yoga world to be very open and accepting. After all, a lot of us find yoga from a very dark place; As a way to improve the quality of our life and find support. So it alarmed me to read that so many people, especially women, had a negative reaction to it. People forget that the traditional practice outfit of choice in India is the loin cloth. Although I respect their opinions and have learned so much through this experience, I can only hope that people begin to support one another in this community.
How did you land that gig and did you have any reservations about shooting in your underwear?
A wonderful person and regional manager at Equinox, Keith Irace, recommended me for the video. I never had any reservations about wearing as little clothing as possible because I believe that the body is fascinating, especially in the yoga practice. Right before the shoot I had a moment of insecurity, but Dice was there to tell me it was okay.
What do you think about the controversy that came from that?
It seems that the controversy not only surrounded the outfit of choice but also the overall marketing concept. We are all entitled to our opinions and views but in all honestly, both the Equinox team and I only hoped to inspire people with this video. I grew up thinking I wasn’t good enough and have used my yoga practice to slowly heal. So, I was ecstatic when I was given the opportunity to express my love for the art of yoga. Controversy is very powerful. It brings passion out of people. No matter what side one is one, I am thankful for their interest in the subject and happy that this video helped them feel something and hopefully learn something about themselves.
How did you get into yoga and eventually teaching?
I found Yoga at 15 as a way to help find peace and serenity in my life. The music industry is not the most loving place for a child to grow up in so after years of abusing my body through bulimia and anorexia, I started looking for change. What my Yoga practice is to me personally has changed over the years and will continue to grow. After my daughter was born in 2004, I started to reevaluate my life. Recording and touring wasn’t allowing me the type of time I wanted with her. Eventually I decided to start designing. I had a dress and accessories line for a couple of years until I realized that it was taking even more time away from my daughter than singing did. I dropped everything and did a teacher training with one of my favorite teachers, Annie Carpenter and have been teaching ever since. Teaching yoga allows me to share my passion for the yoga practice with my fellow yogis and my family. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to make my own schedule and travel the world teaching with my daughter Taylor and Dice.
What is your favorite pose and why?
That’s a tough question because i love almost all of them! And the ones that I hate are probably the asanas that I need the most. A pose that has recently had a huge impact in my practice is the hollow back scorpion. My all-time favorite though is Savasana, or corpse pose. It represents what I look for in my daily life – a calm, clear and present mind.
Catch Briohny Smyth performing with Dice this Saturday, March 10th at the Buddhi Launch Party.
Check out her website handstanders.com