Inverted backbends with Briohny and Dice at Altamonte Springs Yoga
I trucked up north of Orlando too-early this morning to one of my favorite studios, Altamonte Springs Yoga, for a workshop by the dynamic duo, Briohny Kate Smyth and Dice Iida-Klein. (I will refrain from referring to them collectively as Brice. From now on.) Two weeks removed from my introduction to inverted backbends with Kathryn Budig, I was looking for more pointers as I start bringing hollow-backs and Scorpions into my own classes. I was also curious about Bri and Dice. As one half of a yoga-teaching couple myself, I wanted to see what they have that we don’t. The short answer is: chops. It’ll be another year of serious practice before I can trick out like these guys. At least.
We started in Virasana. Dice suggested we engage Mula Bandha, and advised the men thusly: “Guys, act like you’re trying to move your member without touching it.” That commenced an hour-long, mighty strong flow, split evenly between the two of them. The room was packed and we were mat to mat, sweating rivers, fogging the mirrors. Hot and slick like a jungle is where the proverbial magic happens, in yoga and, of course, your crib.
Bri and Dice have similar cadences and styles: slightly barky, with constant, rapid-fire physical cueing, and a woo factor of zero. I dig it. When it was time to break it down for workshopping they were much more conversational but no less specific in describing muscular action. Each demoed hollow-back forearm balance, hollow-back handstand, forearm and handstand Scorpions, and dropping back into Kapotasana. At the same time they taught partner spotting for all the postures, and how to practice them at the wall.
My friend Rebecca, backbender extraordinaire, had come with me to the workshop, and we were psyched to get at it. The practice in assisting someone in these inversions was really valuable. When you are upside down and pulling your chest through your arms, looking up at your belly, most of your body is out of sight. You’re also supporting your entire weight upside down, balancing, and in as deep a backbend as you can manage. In other words, you’re exerting yourself a lot while in a position that feels pretty vulnerable. The spotter’s assists have to be sure and responsive. Their vocal cues had better make sense. It was good stuff. Bri and Dice worked the room, lending hands and advice and encouragement. Occasionally they would demo something jaw-dropping, which compelled everyone to applaud as if we were at a circus.
Flashback: I don’t know if it was all the mad backbending or what, but when we cooled down with some long-hold hip openers, I found myself in a bit of an altered state. Normally when I’m in Pigeon for more than a minute I start to feel nauseated and anxious. Today I sort of started hallucinating that I was stuck in a holding pattern, floating above the rain barrel out by our garage. I forced myself away from the rain barrel and started spiraling out into space. Um, there was a lot of rapid movement and sounds and awesome views happening in my head. As a former LSD aficionado, I authorize myself to say: it was trippy. Listening to other peoples’ dreams and/or trips is boring so I won’t continue. I’ll just say, it doesn’t take a teacher spewing la-la to take you on a weird-ass transcendent yoga trip. Digression complete.
Let’s talk about sex. What’s the first viewer comment on the Bri and Dice video below? “Their sex life must be amazing.” Yeah, they’ve got some of that vibe going on. Always-charming Altamonte proprietor MyLinda Morales opened class by cutely announcing that she and her husband “have a couple’s crush on them,” and no doubt they are young and rippling and wearing not much. The whole class cracked up when they demoed the hollow-back assist, Bri backing that ass right into Dice’s “pelvis” (member) as he guided her hips with his hands. Got that image? Naturally, someone snapped a photo. “Who took a picture?” Dice asked. “That’s gonna be my new Facebook,” he said to more giggling. Honestly, do you ever hear grown adults giggle more than at yoga workshops?
Controversy! Like Budig, Smyth was the target of much condemnation and hang-wringing last year over their separate body-baring endorsements, Kathryn’s for ToeSox and Briohny’s for the (in)famous and parodied Equinox panties video. Our two cents is: shrug. In person neither woman looks skeletal or abused, and I have not yet caught bulemia or an inferiority complex from looking at them. I don’t aspire to be them or have their bodies. I just want to cultivate the discipline to nail that sweet-ass Scorpion. And that, my friends, is called Inspiration.
In closing, what a great day! The flow was good and plenty, the cues were many and succinct, and apparently you can get high on inverted backbends. Look for hollow-backs and Briohny and Dice at a yoga studio near you.