Every time I read something that Bryonie writes, I fall in love. This beautifully-powered yogini & writer is someone you need to know if you don't already. Bryonie’s life is rooted in the belief that when we come from a place of love, anything is possible. When not teaching yoga (or working her heart to the bone as a Featured Columnist and Managing Editor for elephant journal), she can be found frolicking in the sunshine with her camera and her dog, Winston, living her yoga. I am honoured and delighted to be able to interview Bryonie Wise for this week's Sexy Scoop.
You are such a fierce, beautiful soul that always seems rooted in her spiritual practice. What was the tipping point in your life that made you dive deep into yoga, meditation and spirituality?
By far the most pivotal moment that changed everything was being with my mother when she died of cancer.
Witnessing the months of treatments, watching how her body and face changed—all of those moments leading up to the moment when she drew her last breath changed everything in my life. Her death blasted my heart apart and it took a long time of numbing out to realize that at the rate I was going, it was possible that I would die too early, too—maybe of lung cancer—just as her mother did and just as she did.
I wasn't prepared to be the third generation of women in my family to do so.
(It's amazing how powerful we can be when we make up our minds to shift an ancestral pattern—when we decide to forge a different path, through the thicket of the unknown.)
I returned to Toronto (from New York, where I had been living and working) not knowing who I was or what her dying meant or what was supposed to happen next. I thought that returning to my home city would give me a chance to rest and rebuild and heal—and that's where yoga happened and that's where this door, the one I didn't know existed, opened.
About a year and a half after she died, I went to the first yoga class I'd been to in years. I decided on hot yoga—there was something powerful in the heat and in how my breath felt when I walked outside after a class. The combination of the two convinced my body (and my brain) that this feeling—of expansion, of space in my lungs—felt so much better then how I felt smoking cigarettes.
I quit smoking; I started seeing a naturopath; I tried acupuncture and shiatsu. As I evolved, as I unfolded, I began to realize that my body has a voice and speaks to me constantly, as does my heart—and that it was my job to listen.
Stepping into that first class was stepping into a new life. I didn't know then where it would lead or how my life would change—I didn't know what yoga was, not in the way I understand it now—but I trusted myself enough to know that it was one step in the right direction.
I've learned that somewhere in each of us, buried deep down in the centre of that thing beating in our chest, is wisdom and knowledge. Our hearts contain everything we need to know about who we are and why we exist and what we're supposed to do next.
I practice yoga, I meditate, I write, I walk my dog, I pray, I sit in ceremony, because all of these things bring me closer to the truth of who I am.
This body, my body, is my temple and to live a long, full, beautiful life, I have to take care of myself. This means slowing down when the world is speeding up. This means turning off all of electronics and snuggling up with my furbabes with a good book on a Saturday night; it sometimes means going against the grain and marching to the beat of my own heart.
What is the one thing that you think people can do right now to make a positive change in their life that's easy to do?
Deciding to change our lives for the better takes trust, faith, commitment and a whole lot of forgiveness.
We'll fail, over and over again and each time we do, we'll learn how to love ourselves that much more.
The one thing that will make a difference right now?
Start telling the truth.
(You know the one—it nags at you and you feel it in your heart. Something isn't quite right in your life and the only way to set yourself free is to fling open the closet door and set those skeletons free.)
When we start speaking the truth of who we are, what our fears are, what our dreams are, we learn that we are not alone. We learn that our voice will spark inspiration and other voices will start speaking out; we learn that we can be who we are in this life and we deserve to love as fiercely as the ocean.
If you could travel anywhere in the world to teach yoga, where would you go and why?
In my heart of hearts, I'd like work with Africa Yoga Project and/or Off the Mat, Into the World and travel to far off places to serve and teach and learn and grow my understanding of the human experience.
Wrapped deeply in my desire to teach is a desire to make this world a better place and through my studies and practice, I'm learning that to do so, we must lead with love.
What’s the one no-holds barred indulgence food that you just couldn’t live without, healthy or not?
Easy: vegan donuts from Through Being Cool. Not healthy, in any way shape or form, but delicious and delightful.
You’re obviously a talented yogi, writer, photographer and proud dog mom, are there any other secret talents you have?
I love to take classes to learn how to make all sorts of things! I'm a visual person and so explore as many mediums as I can to help bring the magic I feel into life. I sew, I cut and paste things, I stamp—it would take days to list what my imagination and hands are capable (some of which is yet to be discovered!).
Oh, and I know how to clean a good house.
Food is good for the soul. What do you do in the kitchen to nourish yourself – both emotionally & physically?
The first thing that usually falls away when I fall out of alignment with myself is food; it's the first to go. I can make myself so busy that feeding myself becomes the least important part of my day. (And it doesn't do anything good for my body, mind and heart.)
So, to nourish myself, this year I vow to take more time in my teeny kitchen; to set up an altar and make cooking and feeding myself a ritual.
If my body is temple, then I must honour it as so.
Whole foods, clean foods—knowing where my food comes from and infusing everything I prepare with love makes all the difference.
We all love a woman who can juice. Do you have any special juicing tips and maybe a recipe you would like to share with us?
Oh, how I love my juices!
Two tips: get a good juicer (I have a Vitamix, which I adore) and keep frozen fruit on hand! Make it as easy as possible to nourish yourself.
1 scoop of almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
a bunch of raspberries (frozen or fresh)
a dash of cinnamon
a sprinkle of hemp seeds
water/coconut water or nut milk, depending on what consistency you prefer
As featured columnist and Managing Editor for the Elephant Journal, you’ve developed a platform to share your ideas and inspiring information with your followers. What’s next for Bryonie in 2014?
2014 is my year to build.
I'd like to create a website, sort of like a creative hub, for all these threads of things I like to do to come together and be a little more cohesive; I'd like to find more time to write and photograph and deepen my own yoga practice (which I've been neglecting as of late)—and I'd like to make a book of some kind.
Most importantly, I think, is that I'd like to find a patch of land as far as the eye can see in the country and build a home. I'd like to have enough land so my dog can run for miles; I'd like some trees and some water and plenty of space to breath. I'd like this place to be a place where people can come to heal and create and explore and just sit and listen to the wind.
This year is laying the ground work for everything I know is possible in this life.
What are three words that you would use to describe your relationship to food in the past and in the present?
Work in progress.