If you’ve been to the Shala the last couple of months, you’ve met the energetic, bubbly yogi “Bree”. She is our first international “Yogi of the month” and shares her wildly interesting story and views of life with us this month.
Bree Qureshi – 25 – world traveler, fashion designer
Ashtanga yoga saved this young and beautiful woman more than once. Bree grew up in the United States, where she lived in New York, Texas, Michigan… Her nomadic existence also brought her to numerous places in Asia, Central-and South-America and now Europe.
After a difficult period in life four years ago, Bree turned to drinking, going out late, eating unhealthy, running till her lungs were about to explode, to cope with the tough situation. Clearly, none of this was helping. In fact, it only added fuel to the fire and made her more upset. One day, on her way to the gym, she passed a yoga studio and popped inside. A Vinyasa beginner class was about to start and she joined, without giving it any thought.
“All of the tension, all of the craziness that I was dealing with, just released instantly. I cried my eyes out the first time. It gave me a complete new perspective and I started practicing intensively. This amazing new tool that combined a physical practice with learning about the yama’s & niyama’s (2 other limbs of yoga, besides Asana’s, red) made me feel so much better.”
Although Bree made some incredible progress, the initial worries that had brought her to step into the yoga studio in the first place, surfaced again and more vicious than ever.
“I just needed to leave, remove myself from the bad situation and the people that came along with it”.
Claudia, her first teacher, advised her to seek discipline and routine in Ashtanga Yoga and Bree packed up her mat for a month to stay at Ashtanga Yoga Bali Research Centre where she first met Kevin and Noémi.
It completely changed her life in setting priorities, the way she reacted to things, the way she treated others and especially herself.
“If you want a dedicated and solid practice, you can’t get wasted every night, binge on unhealthy food, have sleep deprivation, because that definitely will affect you in a bad way. And since I’m ambitious, I wanted to do well, give it my complete best. The discipline and rules I set for myself here, helped me to stabilize everything.”
Years went by and the focused daily practice ebbed away because everyday life took over again. Bree continued her studies at the School of Design as a Fashion Designer. After getting her degree, she got a job in the New York Fashion Industry. Living in the metropole while working 80 hours a week parted her from yoga practice entirely.
“I did not know how to set boundaries for myself at work and within my personal life back then. In New York, you get the best of everything: drinks, food, clubs, shows… and I wanted the full experience. Unfortunately, that does not guarantee quality of life.”
Last year, she quit her job because the long hours and stress afflicted her health. Some months later, her grandmother whom she was very close with, passed away while Bree was abroad. She was unable to attend the funeral and when she eventually got back to the States, Trump won the presidential elections. To quite a lot of American citizens, including Bree, this was a huge slap in the face. The shadow that had been gone for a couple of years returned, as did the panic attacks.
“I looked for a way to get rid of the anxiety again, and it struck me there was just one thing that could always help me through. Yoga! It’s always been yoga. I tried so many things, but nothing has ever done anything remotely to what Ashtanga does for me. Because you have to do it yourself. You actively have to put the work in it to see the results. It’s kind of isolated that way. You are standing on your own two feet, learning how to control your breath in these crazy postures. It creates an independence, which makes everything else a little less scary for me, because I know I can handle it.”
She reached out to Noémi and Kevin, who just moved to the new studio and within minutes they invited her to stay with them and practice.
“Of all the places I’ve been in the world, staying in Hasselt is helping me to find my balance again. I have a very extreme personality: extremely happy, or extremely sad, have a strict routine with no room for indulgences or go on a bender. With Kevin and Noé I learn that there is an in-between, that you can take care of your body and your mind, but also leave room for guilty pleasures now and then.”
Bree took on the opportunity to visit Munich, Paris, Nice, Austria and even spend 3 weeks walking the Camino Portugués, a 200-kilometer route from Porto to Santiago de Compostella. She is ending her European trip in Ireland, where she is doing research for a new fashion project she’s working on with her sister. Travelling is in her blood and she visited 25 countries, but surprisingly she thought the world of Hasselt.
“The generosity and warm hospitality from Kevin & Noémi and all the people I got to meet, made me feel at home for the first time in a long while. I felt loved, supported and part of a community.”
Bree, it was a pleasure and an honor to meet you. Your enthusiasm and positive energy lifted us all! We wish you all the best in life, but above all balance and peace of mind. You will always have a home in Hasselt.