Meet Your Yoga Teacher Training Instructor, Gail Picillo

As we near the start of our first ever Yoga Teacher Training at Bryony Body in Exeter, we thought we’d take a step back to properly introduce you to the yogi behind the training: instructor, Gail Picillo.

Tell me a little about your background – how did you find yoga and eventually teaching yoga?

All my life, I have been a competitive athlete.  In my adult years, I was a semi-pro beach volleyball player. I was encouraged to do yoga, but was resistant to it. I had my stereotypes about yoga (oh the growth since then).  But my trainers would not let up, so I started doing yoga. I had a hard time with it as I was competitive, and yoga was non-competitive. I only knew how to push myself by being hard on myself.  Yoga is about being gentle and loving with yourself.  Everything about yoga was the antithesis of who I was…or so I thought. I started to notice something about yoga: not only did my body start to feel better, but I noticed I was more calm and self-assured. I didn’t feel the need to try to prove myself anymore.  I found a sense of humor with myself. By trade, I am a psychotherapist, so I was curious: what was yoga doing that talk therapy doesn’t reach?  I chose to do a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training that specifically focuses on the philosophy of yoga, as well as the physical postures.  I wanted to know more about yoga, to deepen my practice, but never to become a teacher. Well, at the end of my teacher training, the yoga studio selected me to teach there.  I didn’t know what to say – I didn’t plan to teach. But with humble acceptance, I started teaching. This led me to later complete my 500 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, go to India to help serve and learn more, and of course to continue to teach yoga wherever I go.

Trust me, if you asked me when I was a volleyball player that later in life, I would leave the world of competitive sports behind and be a yoga instructor, I would have laughed.  You never know where life is going to take you!

What do you love most about teaching yoga? How has it changed your life?

I love yoga.  Let me repeat that, I LOVE yoga!  What I love most about yoga is that it teaches us how to truly love and accept ourselves as we are.  We begin to embody the practice of “ahimsa,” which is non-harming behavior and thoughts through gentle awareness.  We learn how to breathe.  Now, my guess is that you are thinking, “I don’t know how to breathe?”  Of course you do, but we learn how to breathe that works in a way that calms the body and mind, so that we can connect to our higher Self.  The question about how yoga has changed my life is a tricky one.

I think what yoga has done for me is to bring me back to my life.  I was caught up in the busyness of life, that I was losing my way without even realizing it.  Yoga continues to remind me to slow down and assess what really is important in life, as well as to truly live my life.

What do you love most about the Seacoast community?

I love that people in this community are committed to embodying all the aspects of yoga, not simply just the asanas.  They are open to getting the benefits of all that which yoga offers.

What are you doing when you’re not practicing yoga?

Walking my cats, hiking, reading philosophy/theology/psychology, writing in my journal, meditating by the ocean.

Join Gail at Yoga Teacher Training in Exeter this Fall

Beginning September 8th (so soon!) you can deepen your practice alongside Gail at our first ever 200-hour Yoga Alliance Yoga Teacher Training. The training program will occur during the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each month, September through January.

Have questions about what to expect? We wrote a post on that too: Yoga Teacher Training FAQs

Last chance to sign up: Friday, September 7th

We welcome sign ups up to the very start of the programming. You can sign up for Yoga Teacher Training at Bryony Body in Exeter here on our site. We have multiple payment plan options available to fit your needs. We’re excited to get started and hope to see you there!

group of women who comprise the bryony & birch photoshoot team

Behind the Scenes of an All-Inclusive Branding Photoshoot with the Bryony Crew

group of women who comprise the bryony & birch photoshoot team

When it comes to getting branded photos done for your business, we’re not just talking to the entrepreneurs out there. These days, employees and entrepreneurs alike can benefit from a branded photoshoot. Elevate your sales team status, get branded photos to go with your LinkedIn posts, or do a full-blown website shoot – whatever your need, our crew has you covered.

But what does a branded photoshoot even entail? I tagged along with the Bryony crew for a day to see the full package of what they offer for a branded photoshoot, and let me tell you… they’ve left no stone unturned.

Step 1: Creative Planning

When you decide to do an all-inclusive branded photoshoot with Bryony & Birch, the first step in the process is strategy and creative planning. We’ll create a vision for the shoot, select a venue, schedule the day and start sourcing everyone who needs to be involved to make it happen. Whether we decide to shoot in the space at Bryony & Birch or on location at one of our diverse local venue options, we’ll make sure it’s booked and any necessary rentals are sourced, well before shoot day!

Step 2: Get Your Hair and Makeup Done

Having worked with women entrepreneurs for a full decade, I’ve seen a lot of great and not-so-great photoshoots. And let me tell you – when you invest in getting your hair and makeup done for the shoot, it pays off! A few hours before your shoot begins, you’ll come into Bryony & Birch (or we’ll come meet you on location) to make sure your hair and makeup looks feel natural, authentic to you, and camera-ready. Want to get inspired? Check out our hair stylist (and Bryony & Birch founder!) Katie Cavic, and our makeup artist, Janna Wojtas.

Step 3: Get Styled

Once your hair and makeup are done, it’s time to get styled. Our favorite stylist to bring into branded shoots is @mauibain from Newburyport’s Vaalbara. She’ll work with you beforehand, to learn a little about your personality, preferences and vision for the shoot. On photo day, she’ll come armed with looks for you to try on and go with what feels uniquely you.

Step 4: Photoshoot!

Once you have your hair and makeup done, and your outfit on point, the only thing left to bring to the shoot is a big smile and a great attitude. Being the star of a photoshoot can definitely be uncomfortable and that’s why we recommend making it fun! Our two go to photographers, Kate Donovan Photography and Dawn Kingston are both experts at making the shoot feel fun, comfortable and most importantly – they get the shot!

How to Book a Branded Photoshoot at Bryony & Birch

We’re currently booking all-inclusive photoshoots for spring and summer 2023. Inquire at to learn more.

Continue reading The Bryony & Birch Times

Behind Bryony: Designing Our Hair Salon & Yoga Studio

Community is one of our core values at Bryony & Birch. We live, breathe and work hard for the betterment of our town and loved ones. We turn to our network to help us grow our brand, stock our shelves, hire talent and in this case – design our spaces.

Today we’re sitting down with Hillary Mateev, the architect & designer behind our beautiful salon space in Amesbury and yoga studio in Exeter and founder of Reading, MA based XP Architecture & Design.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

Talk to me about the Bryony & Birch space. How would you describe the “vibe” of the Bryony & Birch salon interior?

Katie came to me with a vision for Bryony & Birch as a place that had a naturally comfortable vibe that reflected her eclectic taste. She wanted to make a living room where people wanted to hang out, listen to music and stay.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

What was a design challenge you encountered and overcame in the space for the salon?

In any salon, there are certain processes that need to happen in a very specific progression: check in, consult with the stylist, get your hair washed, go back to the chair and begin a cut, etc. Because the Bryony & Birch space is very long and narrow, we were presented with the challenge of making every element of the client and stylist’s experience work seamlessly.

So here’s what we did: we used an extremely long countertop to accentuate the length of the space. We carved out a quarter of it to use as a private area for the staff to do their color mixing and keep their personal belongings and kept the rest of the counter going through to the end of the space and turned it in the front to create the reception desk. Using this subtle move of the continuation of the counter through these areas allowed several different areas throughout the space to be defined and also connected. It also ended up creating a very natural path for the clients to pass through to their stylist’s chair, after they checked in with reception.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

Can you share something that inspired the design for the salon interior?

The founder, Katie, was the inspiration for the salon. We wanted it clean lines, easy to maintain, and neutral to allow for the details and items for sale to pop with color.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

Now let’s talk about the new Bryony Body space in Exeter. What were some challenges or goals that you had to keep in mind throughout the design phase?

Bryony Body was a totally different animal. That space and layout were existing and we had less resources and time to work with. Instead of renovating, we just wanted to refresh the space and tie the Bryony & Birch brand and colors into it. The name of the game in designing the Bryony Body space was reusing the colors we had used previously in Bryony & Birch and adding a layer of small design elements that reflected the vibe.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

What is one of your favorite design elements of the Bryony Body space?

I really enjoyed working with Katie on picking subtle artwork that perhaps could have multiple interpretations. We worked hard on cleaning up the space in terms of providing benches and cubby holes where the patrons could keep their belongings during classes or procedures.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

Can you tell us a little about your own design business and how you help small businesses with interior design and architecture?

I am currently undergoing an exciting new phase in my career. Using the experience from my previous companies and the success I had working on my own, I have agreed to merge with another firm, to take on the leadership and am in discussions on future ownership with my mentor and colleagues at Ruhl | Jahnes.

I have been in the business of architecture, exhibit design and interior design for around 20 years and my main purpose is to help to create meaningful experiences with space, to tailor the surroundings to better match the inhabitants. I do large and small scale work, but keeping in mind how the space and items within the space are used. I also understand that these places need to grow and work for the users, by evaluating what you do now and what you hope to do in the future.

You can view Hillary’s work and business at 

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

Take a deeper look behind Bryony

👉 Learn how to plan a photoshoot with our go to Amesbury photographer, Kate Donovan.
👉 Bryony Body: Meet your yoga instructor, Jessalynn Hudgins
👉 Meet the entrepreneur, hair stylist and yoga instructor behind Bryony: Katie Cavic

woman with camera in leather bag

Behind Bryony: How to Plan a Branding Photoshoot

Create a color story

Keep your brand color palette in mind from the start. If you don’t have a style guide, upload your color palette to a program like Coolors or create a Pinterest board and share it with your team, so that everyone is on the same page about the colors that should be in the shoot. Trust us, you don’t want a random orange pillow getting in the way! Keeping your color palette in mind, select a couple outfit options that Keep the new brand color palette in mind for all of the shot details. All backgrounds should be light, neutral and minimal and any pops of color should be either a matching shade of blue, dusty rose, or a simple plant.

Choose a venue and time of day that fits your vibe.

If you’re going for a natural and organic vibe, you’ll want to find a photoshoot venue that has big windows and a lot of natural light. If you want the lighting to feel soft, and not contain too many harsh shadows, be sure to chat with your photographer ahead of time to discuss the best times of day for the shoot.

Did you know that at Bryony & Birch, we have a photo studio that’s ready and equipped with everything you need? Check out The Space at Bryony and email for more information and to request your dates.

Help your web designer out: consider photo orientation.

When shooting for a website, a landscape or portrait view works, as long as there is plenty of blank space surrounding the subject… aka, you! That space allows your web designer to add a text overlay on the photo, which gives an open and elegant feel to the website.

Make a shot list

The best way to show up prepared for the big photoshoot day is with a shot list. This is a list of every single photo that you want to make sure to get in your allotted time. If you want certain outfits and/or props for certain scenes, make sure to mark them down! And if you’re shooting a team, make sure to map out every headshot or group shot needed. It can get hectic with a ton of people, so having a list will ensure everyone gets their photo taken.

Photoshoot tips from a photographer

We sat down with our resident photographer, Kate Donovan, to ask her for some tips for branding photoshoot success.

What kind of creative direction do you need a business owner to prepare ahead of time for a branding shoot?

We typically have a creative meeting and create a mood board, discuss props and attire to bring prior to the shoot.

What should someone wear for a branding shoot?

Bring options! For a 1-hour shoot, I encourage clients to bring 2 options, one casual and one more formal. For a 2-hour shoot, we can shoot 2-4 looks. We discuss brand colors and what to stay away uncomfortable clothing prior to the session.

Is it better to do a branding shoot outside or indoors?

We definitely try to utilize both. We make the most of our time by planning ahead, changing outfits and location during the shoot. So lucky to be located right downtown Amesbury and often utilize brick, cobblestone, and downtown backdrop!

Last tip: have fun!

Photoshoots are one of those very few adult moments that make us feel a little bit like a rockstar. Have fun with it and dive in fully. Get your hair, nails and makeup done (we can help with that!) And maybe bring a bottle of champagne (or two!) and make a special playlist. Keeping the vibe fun and lighthearted will make everyone feel comfortable and when everyone is feeling good, that’s when the best photos are taken!