An Interview with Dice Iida-Klein & Briohny Smyth
The phone rang and connected with the other line. The sounds of a busy afternoon filled the air. Dice Iida-Klein and Briohny Smyth are no strangers to the life of schedules, traveling and meetings, but at the end of the day one thing matters most to them – connection. Connection with family, with each other, with themselves, and with “the mat”. As we all know yoga stretches far beyond the asana practice. In the fullest sense of the word yoga is a good mix of a little bit of everything. Meditation, breathing, reflecting, practicing, and connecting. These two are world-renown yoga instructors, parents, and change-makers (just to name a few). The way they keep a balance? They fully embrace all the facets of yoga as they integrate with their busy lifestyle.
Here’s what they had to say about preferences, yoga and life during a recent interview with Inspire Yoga.
Do you prefer coffee or tea?
Dice: Tea, all the way.
Early bird or night owl?
Briohny: Ohh. Forced to be an early bird. But in my heart I’m a night owl!
Dice: That depends…because I could be both. But I’m more of a night owl.
What cheers you up?
Briohny: My family
Dice: My family…my son, my wife…yoga!
Rightie or leftie?
Who was the last person you hugged?
Bri: My son!
Are you a yoga-only kind of person or do you cross-train?
Briohny: Let’s see…back years and years ago, I did some spinning along with yoga. But I went through this period of about 10+ years where I felt like only yoga. I didn’t want anything tightening my hamstrings or my quadriceps. But recently actually after I gave birth to my son my body changed so much and I started to realize how weak I’ve become because of over-stretching and because of the high levels of relaxin/estrogen in my body. So lately I’ve been doing pilates as a compliment to the yoga practice.
Dice: Regardless of what form of physical fitness you encounter – people become very particular about one thing and I think that’s the case in the beginning of any form of practice. In order to create a ritual or find a rhythm, of course you need to dive in head first to one modality for the most part. But I think all of us do that in the beginning and then some of us maintain it and it’s perfect, but I think a lot of people end up wanting more. Not necessarily meaning that their first practice doesn’t give them enough, but you just want to start coming full circle and experience many other things. Yoga has taught me to be more open-minded and less closed-minded. So I’m definitely more about different practices.
What are some rules/routines that keep your organized and prepared while you travel?
Briohny: You learn along the way that’s for sure. Rule: Don’t pack too much. We started out packing a lot of things that we do not need – like four pairs of jeans! We rarely would wear anything other than yoga clothes so that just didn’t make sense. Another rule is we always carry basically a doctor’s bag with all the medicines we use (homeopathic/herbal stuff). Oh, and…we bring as many diapers as we think we’ll need. If we’re gone for a while and we’re doing a lot of trainings we want to make sure we have a lot of toys. Another rule, especially for traveling on a plane is being able to lie down. Of course it’s super amazing if you can travel business class all the time because it’s not a problem! But we do want to be able to save our money for our retirement so we do travel economy from time to time. So we try to reserve a middle section with the three seats together so we can lie down.
What are some rules/routines to keep your family unit strong and adjusted to your traveling lifestyle?
Dice: Anytime we get to be together we make sure the activities are “all-levels” you could say. The family bond is strong whether you are together or not. It’s just making sure that you cultivate that idea from early on. When we’re home it’s all about bike-riding and being outside together hiking, we play golf together – doing as many things together as possible. And if we are travelling it might be sightseeing, checking out the city. Or it could be just being lazy and watching movies together. But we are always together. We are very much a group.
Are there any poses that you purposefully exclude from your personal practice? Why?
Briohny: Right now, no. The past few years have been very interesting but right now I just embrace everything. It’s constantly changing. I love the strong practice. I love inversions and arm balances. I want to do a handstand every day. There are a couple of things that I do every day. But I am also more in tune with treating my body like a temple. And when you really listen to your body it’s okay some days not to practice some days or not do certain things. But you know if you would have asked me this a year ago I would have said “I hate chair pose!”. It’s interesting how the tables turn and you realize in all these poses that you avoid because they are difficult, they are exactly the poses you need. So right now, there’s nothing that I don’t do but there are certain things that I am very mindful about. Whether I only go halfway into it or I don’t do it for too long, but when I take a class I do most things.
Note: Yes, even Briohny has a love/hate relationship with Utkatasana. #justified
Traveling and interacting with so many people across the world sounds exciting, but also potentially exhausting…How do you practice self-care and make your physical and mental health a priority in the midst of constant busyness?
Dice: Any job can be tiring and can run you down. With both of us we just honestly love connecting with people and we see it as such a blessing to make these extended families all over the world, so that part of it never feels exhausting. But of course to stay fit and stay healthy – we come back to the question “why did you start teaching yoga?” You obviously have some sort of practice or enjoy having that time. So keeping up the practice is probably the most important thing. And practice five years ago meant I needed to sweat every day and practice 90 minutes at least if not two classes. Then life happened – you have kids, their school, you have to be more financially responsible, and take into account all of your travel. So the practice for me now is making sure I set aside time for myself, not in a selfish way, but a necessary way, has been very helpful.
What would you say is the main intention of the workshops you’ll be presenting at Inspire?
Briohny: I think the main intention of the workshop as well as any training we do is that we really just want to — how fitting is this, but — INSPIRE – because we are constantly inspired by yoga. Student first, teacher second. And whenever we get to cultivate a community or come in touch with a group of people especially for a five day period – we learn so much. That’s what’s exciting to us is that we get to go meet all these new people who have gone out and met all these other people. We come together and share and learn about people’s bodies and practices. So what we hope to give back through this is just sharing our passion for yoga.
What is one of the most valuable lessons you’ve been able to take off the mat and into your life?
Briohny: I think one of the most valuable lessons, not necessarily from yoga but perhaps Buddhism, would be “the only thing that is certain in life is that everything changes”. When you start to embrace the present moment through your practice. Whether it be the present moment in you body, your mind or your family – that’s when you really start living. We live so much of our lives kind of caught up in yesterday or tomorrow. I think being present is one of the greatest gifts. That said though, be kind to yourself at the same time because you’re not always going to be able to be present. Maybe you’re present for one second out of every day. But just acknowledging that helps you to build on it.
If someone who practices yoga is interested in becoming a teacher but is unsure they are equipped, what advice would you give them?
Dice: There is no such thing as being unequipped. If you have even the inkling to want to teach, that is the greatest equipment you could ever need. That desire alone is good enough. As far as the tricks and the demos that you can do or how you teach – all of that is… not necessarily easily attainable, but if you’re passionate enough about it, it will all come around for you. If you do everything with passion, everything will find it’s way into a natural form for you.
Dice & Briohny will be at Inspire April 17-21.
Sign up for all/part of the amazing 5 day experience of master classes, training, and workshops HERE
Early Bird pricing for Fit, Flow, Fly available through March 15th
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