January 2014 Student of the Month

Laurel Brewer

brewer Please tell us a little about yourself.
I have been practicing different forms of yoga for about 7 years and am in my 5th year of this yoga specifically. Outside of yoga, I enjoy CrossFit, reading, spending time with my family and exploring technology. I have a communication degree from UTSA and my biggest goal in life is to run a large company.
What brought you to the yoga practice?
I originally started this yoga because I was curious. I had integrated different forms of yoga into my work out routines before and decided to give it a shot. The main reason for beginning a yoga practice in general for me was (and still is) to keep me mentally in check.
How often do you practice?
I have been practicing 5-6 days a week for about 4 years. Now that I have integrated CrossFit into the routine, I do the yoga 3 days and CrossFit 3 days.
What specific physical issues, if any, did you have before taking your first class?
I have always had issues with flexibility. This resulted in lots of knee and back pain. I was a runner for many years and a doctor once told me "running long distances is not something you can do forever." That thought really resonated with me, so I began a search for a form of exercise that would give me the endorphin rush of running without the terrible impact that it was having on my joints. Out of all the different workouts I've done over the years, this yoga is by far the hardest. Yet, the benefits are always consistent and still amaze me.
What are the greatest benefits of your practice?
The greatest benefit of practicing the yoga is becoming accepting of myself. The saying goes that we are our own worst critics and, for me, that is 100% true. Having to stare at yourself for 90 minutes at a time and not completely pick yourself apart is one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced. A close second is learning to listen to my body. Being an athlete most of my life, we were always told to push through pain. This is a fantastic notion, but if you don't understand the different kinds of pain, it can be quite dangerous. Throughout my practice, I have definitely become better at knowing how far to go and when (though that is an ongoing challenge).
How has this practice changed your health and life? Any emotional or other benefits?
Overall, I am far more calm in all situations in life. I handle stress better and am more accepting of things that I cannot control. I am also a better listener and can follow directions. This may sound like a very basic skill, but I am 100% sure that if weren't for the hot room, those skills would never have been as developed as they are now.
What is your favorite part of the yoga?
My favorite part of the yoga is that no matter what I am up against outside of the hot room, I can just be me for 90 minutes. Whatever I'm feeling, I'm allowed to feel. I can just dial in and work through it. The yoga is truly an emotional release for me and a constant that I can always rely on.