December 31, 2012

The Truth is…Pregnancy Isn’t Easy. ~ Briohny Smyth

Part one. {For full image, see part two from Briohny “On Nudity & Pregnancy.”}


Believe it or not…peeing my pants was my turning point.

I have to admit that being pregnant again after eight years has been a daunting experience. When Waylon Lewis of elephant journal asked me to share my experience, there was some hesitation. There is so much fear surrounding pregnancy and childbirth that I didn’t want to add to it.

But after thinking about it some more, I realized that I didn’t want to sugarcoat it, either.

The truth is pregnancy isn’t easy—but it’s the challenging experiences in life that help us grow. Through great challenge comes great reward! I can only hope that my experience inspires you to take chances in life and learn from your own experiences.

Even if the experience involves nausea, vomiting and mood swings.

My first pregnancy was a breeze. I went about my daily routine, barely noticing I was pregnant until I looked in the mirror. Although I spent most of my pregnancy away from my partner, I wasn’t working and had all the time in the world to dedicate to my own self-care.

Photo: Jasper Johal

This time around was a different story.

Nausea started the moment I saw a double line on the pregnancy stick. Then, the crankiness settled in and my husband became its main target.

Our travel schedule has us on a plane every other week. Sometimes it’s an easy two-hour flight, and sometimes it’s a grueling 20 hours with connections. No matter the length, I am miserably dizzy for 99.9% of the time.

On the first day of my second trimester, I (we) rejoiced!

“Yay, the nausea, crankiness and discomfort are over!”

However, I was wrong. I still felt the same.

I continued being miserable, and used my pregnancy as an excuse. I watched my relationship with my husband deteriorate, and blamed it all on him. I had become someone I didn’t recognize—constantly complaining and disconnected from this beautiful miracle happening inside my body.

Something needed to change. I was turning into my mother.

Being pregnant makes me think about my mother quite a lot. I am so thankful for all of the love and support she has given me throughout my life, but I am also saddened when I think about how unhappy she is. My parents have fought bitterly for as long as I can remember, and despite my pleas for them to divorce, they say they’ve stayed together “for the kids.”

So naturally, I swore that I would never put my children through the same, and have lived my life trying to avoid making the same mistakes they did. Of course, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and I spent most of my teens and 20s making many of the same mistakes.

I went through some really tough times, custody battles, breakups and even bankruptcy without seeing my own responsibility in every situation. It felt natural to blame everything on my ex, the lawyers, my parents, best friends, or anyone who got in my way. I wasted two years of my life fighting and crying in my closet, disconnected from my daughter and the person I’ve always wanted to be.

At the time, I had been in OA (Overeaters Anonymous) for almost eight years and hadn’t been to a meeting for almost six months. A friend of mine invited me to an Al-Anon meeting, a 12-step group dedicated to friends and family of alcoholics. I decided to go because I needed to share my story and everyone would feel sorry for me and be on my side. Ha!

For more: Briohny Smyth: The Full Story, Straight from the Yogini’s Mouth. {Article in English & Spanish}

Kathryn Budig interviews Briohny Smyth of Equinox Yoga video: “Stop Judging & Read.”

I just sat back and listened in amazement. Not only were the stories powerful, but it was also apparent that the storytellers had immense strength, both physical and mental, which is what inspired me most. All of the stories closed with the same message,

“When I saw my responsibility in the way my life was, I was able to break the cycle.”

Many quoted a book called The Courage to Change. I got that book right after the meeting, and began my journey.

Photo: Jasper Johal

I can’t say that I am cured or free of my old ways, but I do have the tools to break the unhealthy “victim mentality” cycle, and do try to see my responsibility in every situation in my life. I still have moments where I blame my unhappiness on someone else—especially now that I’m pregnant.

One day, I was particularly unhappy about a huge mess of my husband’s things sitting in the middle of our hallway. I didn’t hesitate to tell him how I felt and told him to clean it up immediately. He listened to what I said, rolled his eyes, and went about cleaning it up without a word.

However, our daughter Taylor had a different response. She said,

“You’re not very nice when you’re pregnant, Mommy. You’re bossy, mean, cranky and just not nice!”

I responded by saying,

“Well, you don’t know what it’s like to be pregnant, do you?”

She responded by storming off. That was my lowest point.

After I apologized to my family, I decided that I wanted and needed to change. I spent the next few weeks stressing about making myself feel better. I stressed myself out so badly that I ended up feeling worse.

During one of my daily freak-outs, Taylor pointed out that even our three dogs were hiding from me. We all looked at each other and burst out laughing. I laughed hard, but then followed it up with a sneeze and ended up peeing my pants a little. Believe it or not, peeing my pants was my turning point! All of the sudden I couldn’t even remember what I was upset about—probably because it wasn’t important anyway.

In that moment, I realized that my mind wasn’t serving me. I had followed my negative thoughts way too far and had become blind to the beautiful things around me. As I dug deeper into the source of my anger, I found that my anger was rooted in fear—fear of the change happening in my body.

Briohny Smyth

I found myself attached to what I think are toned abdominal muscles, but realized through my years of recovery from bulimia that this fear was rooted deeply in my insecurities, both in body and mind. I am so thankful for yoga and the tools it has given me to be honest with others and myself. It is a tough road, but with the help of my wonderful husband and daughter, as well as the strong community around me, I am less and less affected by my insecurities.

I am so lucky to have the most amazing, patient, kind and supportive family who love me no matter how cranky I might be. And although this pregnancy is a tough one, I am incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to experience this miracle of life. I am able to create a bond with my new child before I can even see, hear or touch him.

And yes, it is a he!

Treating my body as a temple for my child and myself is necessary and healing, both physically and emotionally. I find it comical that in the intro to a yoga class, the teacher will ask about injuries and lump pregnancies into the same sentence.

Pregnancy is far from an injury. It is an amazing opportunity to connect with your body in a loving and kind way.

I am so excited to teach and practice throughout my pregnancy, and let my yoga continue to guide me through. I won’t say that I love being pregnant, but I can guarantee that it’s worth it! And I am reminded of that every second of every day by being Taylor’s mom.


Join me for “Beautiful Belly,” my new Pre-Natal Yoga Series, coming soon on The Daily Burn.

Re the image at top: Please help us support Urban-Light.org, an organization dedicated to restoring the lives of children exploited in the sex trade in Thailand. Buy a beautiful Jasper Johal Yoga calendar. 100 percent of the net profit goes to this cause.


Briohny Smyth is best known for her love of Inversions and Arm Balances. She shared her passion with over 4 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 eye opening alignment instruction.

Briohny was a child pop star in Asia with a platinum album by the age of 13. In 1999, after years of anorexia and bulimia, she found yoga in Thailand as a way to practice self-care and begin a journey towards 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 mentored with Annie Carpenter and Lisa Walford at YogaWorks and is certified 500 E-RYT.

Briohny has shared her journey and story as a contributing writer for Mind Body Green, elephant journal, The Huffington Post, and QBlog. She has graced the cover of Women’s Health Thailand, Yoga Journal Thailand, and LA Yoga.

She currently teaches classes in Los Angeles and travels the world with her husband teaching their signature Fit Flow workshops, retreats and Teacher Trainings.



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Assistant Ed: Stephanie V.

Ed: K.B.

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