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After getting stuck in particularly horrible morning traffic in LA on our way to the KiraGrace photoshoot, our team rushed into the studio fifteen minutes behind schedule. Briohny was already on her mat warming up for the day, chatting with the videographer, and lighting up the room with her warmth and zesty personality. She is without a doubt a joy to spend the day with. An internationally recognized and acclaimed yogini, Briohny found yoga in Thailand in 1999 after years spent wrestling with anorexia and bulimia due to the pressure related to her stardom as a child pop star in Asia. Yoga helped her begin on the journey toward self-care and good health. After the birth of her daughter in 2004, she decided to embark on the life long journey of sharing her passion for yoga.
Briohny has shared her story as a contributing writer for numerous publications. She is best known for her love of Inversions and Arm Balances. She shared her passion with over 7 million viewers in her Equinox videos "The Contortionist" and "The Balancing Act" (filmed with her husband, yoga instructor Dice Iida-Klein) which sparked significant conversation in and around the yoga community. Her dedication to her practice shines through in her signature Fit Flow classes, a blend of fun and invigorating flow and alignment instruction. She currently travels the world with her husband teaching their signature Fit Flow workshops, retreats and Teacher Trainings.
It's easy to see why a day spent with this incredible woman is such a treat! Which is why we're so thrilled to share with you our interview with model and muse, Briohny Smyth:
KiraGrace: We are so amazed by all the places you've lived! Born in Australia, you moved to Los Angeles when you were three, transferred to Thailand when you were eleven and have lived in many other cities around the world since then. Being new can be so hard, especially when it means you're a foreigner in a new country. Were any of those transitions difficult for you?
Briohny: I think the first one. Not moving here when I was three, but moving to Thailand when I was eleven because I was very much aware at that time. I was living in Woodland Hills in LA and had cultivated a group of friends. You know, it was 5th grade! So that was hard definitely, I literally tried to chain myself to a sofa in our house, hated my parents for five years... (laughs) I was eleven! But I think because they uprooted me when I was young, and I had the opportunity to experience what being cultured was in a sense, it did help me transition into places easier. But I do have this internal longing for stability, and I know now as an adult I’m starting to create it more. Even though we travel a lot, when we are home, we have the ability to really have down time and be stable and settle in.
KiraGrace: So where is home for you?
Briohny: This is home. LA is home. My kids go to school here, and this is where we want to be. When we grow older, at least six months out of the year we want to be here. That’s what we’ve started doing now, six months of the year we’re here.
KiraGrace: I know you and Dice purchased a new studio about a year ago, how’s that been?
Briohny: Black Dog? It’s good. It’s not new actually, it’s a studio that’s been around for about fifteen years, and it’s the studio that Dice and I got engaged at and Dice started his career there and I taught there a lot. So it’s just a really special space. There are five of us current owners, and it’s a great team. We’ve never wanted to own a studio because we don’t want to manage people, we just want to teach yoga, but that’s kind of what happens. You end up managing people and the books and all that. So we’re able to just teach yoga and use the space to share our passion for what we love. There is another couple that manages all the books and the PR, and the other yogi, the fifth one, manages all the teachers. We use our friends and we network to come in and teach and stuff, so it’s been working well.
KiraGrace: What with founding Bryce Yoga, running a studio, teaching workshops, and raising a family, you and Dice are quite the power couple. Do you have any secrets for maintaining a healthy relationship and love life?
Briohny: Oh my gosh, do you have any secrets!? Please help me! Haha! You know it’s interesting because we’re very different people. We’ve been together seven years and the more we’re together the more we realize how different we are. He has his stuff and I have my stuff, but when we are in tune is when we’re teaching together. When we’re together and it’s just us… I mean there are kids and stuff, but the business part is really difficult. Because the teaching is what the business kind of stemmed from, but now that it’s growing and it’s grown so much we can’t just teach yoga. We’ve got to answer all the emails, we've got to post stuff on social media, you got things like this, and you have magazine covers... things that I am used to because I was in entertainment before, he’s really uncomfortable with. So the most important thing that has occurred over the past three or four years is just us being able to see the other person for who they are and respect that and support that. So that would be the biggest tip. Because we know we like each other and love is obviously there too, but after the first three years when that intense love starts to dissipate and you don’t have the time, then you’re like - look at this person, I like them, I could be with them for the rest of my life. It's no longer just, oh I’m so in love! Like doesn’t go away… And learning to be okay with moods and be okay with feelings and emotions and just shit. What other word is there to use? There’s beauty and then there’s shit. And you've got to be okay with the shit.
KiraGrace: How has yoga affected your relationships?
Briohny: Mostly all in a positive way. I’m by default a codependent person; I love being around people all the time, especially my loved ones. Dice and I in seven years have been apart fifteen days. So… (laughs) It’s going to happen more. He’s going to travel more by himself, not because we need it, but that’s just the way that it’s evolving. So I’m naturally a little bit more codependent, and what yoga has done for me is realize how important it is to create time for myself. When you find that time for yourself you’re not so on edge all the time, you can breathe and be a better person for the people around you. For me that’s been the constant role of yoga in my life. Also, not just the asana, but the whole practice of yoga has helped me have a bit more of a filter because I’ve always been the person to just say what’s on my mind. My husband’s the exact opposite. I have to force him to say what’s on his mind or he’ll just bottle it up until he blows up and explodes. So it has helped me be a little bit calmer and be able to see and observe the thoughts that come into my mind before I just vomit them out. That’s helpful… Everybody is different. What yoga does is help you at first realize where you are coming from, who you are, what you’re tendencies are, because that first step to change is that acknowledgement and realization.
KiraGrace: Not only are you an inspirational figure as a yogini but you’re also such a hardworking, successful, and ambitious woman and mother. What advice would you give to women who are balancing work life and life as a mom? Especially for single mothers, since I know you had some experience with that for a while too.
Briohny: It’s so tough. That’s a really long explanation because for single moms it’s almost like, you've just got to do what you've got to do. And it’s tough because your entire world is about supporting your child so finding time for yourself can sound like an amazing piece of advice, but it’s like yeah, right. When can I find time for myself? When I’m sleeping? So advice would be… er, it's hard because what makes my life so much easier now is that I have my husband, you know? And I have a really great support system. I’ve also had this second round now because my daughter is eleven, so it really helps to have had these experiences with her and know what works and what doesn’t. There are challenges, but I could definitely use the word easier. It’s much easier now. Back when I was parenting my daughter by myself, I was running an unsuccessful business and that was really stressful and we were tight on money and I was in a lawsuit with my ex and a custody battle, so I think having that bottom in my life really helped me just find a path that made me happy and put my mind to work. I’ve failed a lot in my life and had great successes as well, so now this time around this ride - this incline up - I don’t know how to do it better, but I know I want to be more present. And through being more present and appreciating the opportunities and taking advantage of the opportunities, then I feel like I’m not missing anything. By doing that you’re able to see the beautiful things that are in front of you and be happier in the moment rather than be like, ohhh my gawwdddd.
KiraGrace: I love that you weren’t afraid to get back out there after such a difficult experience!
Briohny: Well you know when I first started teaching yoga, it was impossible to get a job. I was with Dice, and he was the hot commodity. He was young, hot, single at the time before we started dating, and a straight yoga teacher. He was teaching almost 25 classes a week when I could barely get one. Because I was just like everybody else, you know? A young, female yoga teacher - there’s like millions of them out there. So I was just taking his class like three times a day, going around with him all over the place, mad love for my practice to grow, but I didn’t have money to eat! That was okay. Slowly I got to teach more. At one point we were both teaching almost 30 classes a week. It was crazy. In LA you know you’re driving and I remember just basically being in West Hollywood for eight hours. I’d drive up here and - I was stupid - I would schedule like fifteen minutes in between classes and think, oh I can do it, I’ll just work and do everything I can and do like eight sessions in one day. So I’d be driving in my Prius across Fountain trying to get from Larchmont to West Hollywood in fifteen minutes. I got so many speeding tickets! The cop would ask, Don’t you know you’re going 65 in a 40? And I’d say, I’m sorry, I’m late to teach yoga. Namaste.
KiraGrace: With the upcoming holiday season, do you have a favorite way to spend the holidays and do you have any holiday survival tips??
Briohny: You know we live basically with my mom. She lives on our property in her own house, so my family is always around and Dice’s family is always around. So that piece of - Omigod family has to come in? - well we live with it all the time. So my best tip for dealing with family members is know you can’t change them so just prepare yourself for that. Have a tactic where before you blow up you just lock yourself in the bathroom or you take a pillow on your face and you just scream really loud and beat up the pillow on the bed. You have to have some sort of outlet that doesn’t create friction - because it’s the holidays! All you have to do is smile and be like, everything's great! You've insulted me my whole life, but it's great!… (laughs) But healthy is tough. And raw, gluten free stuff just doesn’t cut it. So just make sure you find that time to exercise, whether it’s just fifteen minutes in the morning or whether you can actually take a class, just stay healthy. That’s the biggest problem is people stop moving and people get lethargic because the food is really lethargic. So exercise! Just keep it up and don’t wait until after New Year’s because then you’re going to have that extra bloating and you'll have to work even harder.
KiraGrace: Why do you wear KiraGrace? What do you love most about KiraGrace? And do you have a favorite piece right now?
Briohny: Yes. I wear KiraGrace because it’s sexy but it’s also functional and I feel comfortable in it. I like feeling sexy but I don't usually wake up in the morning and think, I’m going to wear something sexy. But I put on KiraGrace and it makes me feel that way. The styling and the design makes me feel like there’s an attention to the female body that not only makes us look good but also helps us feel good because there’s support in the right places and I appreciate that.My favorite piece is the shorts with the slits, the Warrior Shorts. I love those… It’s the summer so I’ve just been living in them. They were the only shorts I took to Thailand so I would work out in them in the morning and then jump in the pool right after. Then I’d be doing handstands on the deck and they would dry and then we’d just go to lunch, and I’d wear them all day. So many compliments…. I also love that KiraGrace works for all ages. My mom wears KiraGrace all the time too, that’s all she works out in. She loves it.