Teacher of the Month: Mimi Ferraro

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Q: What originally inspired you to be a yoga teacher?
A: I actually wanted to become a yoga teacher specifically to teach people who have/had cancer. When I was diagnosed with cancer myself and in the middle of the long slog of hormonal treatment, a dear friend was kind enough to give me private lessons. Though I had practiced yoga before, this was my first real and consistent exposure to Vinyasa yoga. Then a studio in Brooklyn, Bend & Bloom, gave me free classes, and I was hooked. I wanted to become a teacher and to teach other people who went through what I went through because I wanted to be able to help them the way my teachers have helped me.

Q: What inspired you to teach yoga for cancer survivors?
A: See above!

Q: What have you enjoyed most about working with the y4c New York students?
A: The y4c New York students are wonderful — engaged, curious, funny, and very strong. I enjoy being part of this community of women and helping guide them to greater strength, mobility, and, I hope, contentment.

Q: How do you bring your own teaching elements into the y4c classroom?
A: I try to challenge the y4c students, but I always temper the challenge with my very dry humor. And I’m always looking for new orientations for poses — for example, if a pose is something we would normally do with a lot of weight in the arms, I flip the pose upside down or sideways to make it more accessible. Or if a pose is a difficult balancing pose, I will modify it to be done on the floor to start, so that more people can experience the benefits without having to worry above all about balancing. I enjoy these physical puzzles. I also try to get my students to listen well, so they don’t have to look at me, and they can really allow themselves to experience a moving meditation during the flow segments of the class.

Q: Has y4c training/teaching impacted you in any unexpected ways?
A: I was (only slightly) worried that working with women with cancer would be difficult in that it would continually re-traumatize me based on my own experience with the disease, and would keep me too much in the “world” of cancer. I think that’s a delicate balance for a lot of people who have been through cancer. But, actually, I find that because yoga is such a healing practice, this doesn’t happen. The practice of teaching, in and of itself, is very grounding for me, and I appreciate that the students are here and willing to accompany me. I very much feel like, even though I’m the teacher and they are the students, we are in this together.

Q: What is your favorite asana and why?
A: I LOVE backbending. Almost any backbending. Cobra, bridge, wheel, full pigeon, bow. I love the physical action of opening the front of the body, de-slouching, and engaging the back muscles in healthy ways. And I love the idea of opening the heart through these asanas. It’s very easy to get so protective of our hearts after going through cancer (especially if it’s a type of cancer that involves a lot of surgery to the chest area) that we slump forward and round our shoulders, both because of post-surgery tightness and because we want to be shielded. Backbending opens us back up to the world. It’s the future.

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Josi Kytle

About Josi Kytle

Founding Partner of y4c & the Retreat Project Josi is the impostor in this group of yogis. Although she practices yoga personally and believes in its healing physical and emotional benefits, Josi isn’t an instructor. Josi bring the business acumen and organizational strategy to the team to enable efficient and sustainable growth of the program. Her background is in consumer marketing for FTSE brands like Hilton, British Airways and Avis in both London and in New York City. Josi is also Tari’s daughter so their unique, loving and familial approach lead all aspects of the business.