IYCWM Student Spotlight – October 2021

By Published On: October 13th, 2021
It is with immense pleasure that we introduce Nicole Ferraro. Nicole is one of our scholarship recipients and such a wonderful example of how important this program is. It has been so gratifying to be able to support this wonderful yogi in her practice. She brings courage, joy and a big open heart to all she does. We are honored that she shares her practice with us and is a vital part of our community. Enjoy getting to know this beautiful, strong and fearless yogi.
Tell us a bit about yourself – Originally from Western Mass, I left about age 25 and lived in California and Florida only to return to the area when I was 43. Too many occupations to list, however, I currently assist a 93 year old couple to live their best life. I also get to work in my local library.

 What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work? My voice is not the same one I was born with. I developed polyps on my vocal cords which eventually went away with the help of an acupuncturist. However, the scarring that was left changed and deepened my voice to my current one.

 What led you to Iyengar yoga? How did you find IYCWM? About 20 years ago, I was teaching yoga and couldn’t answer so many of my student’s questions regarding poses, alternatives, discomfort etc. I attended a weekend workshop focused on hips at Boca Yoga (an Iyengar studio). That was that! I learned so much in one weekend and knew Iyengar Yoga was for me. When I moved up from Florida, I simply looked up the closest Iyengar teacher/studio. One class with Susan Elena and that was that!

How long have you been practicing yoga? About 22+ years.

What keeps you on the mat? Love and trust in my practice.

What keeps you off the mat? Being a single working mother.
What poses do you love? Whatever pose(s) is being taught in class because I am so grateful I have the time, ability and finances to actually attend class….that being said, Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana always makes me smile.
What poses do you find challenging? Tadasana and consequently Sirsasana
What do you like to do when you are not doing yoga? I would like to be traveling, backpacking, swimming, camping, hiking, seeing live music… but currently my joys are visiting with family and friends especially my great niece Charleigh, helping in my dad’s garden, reading, sitting by a fire…and finding ways to make people smile.

 How has practicing yoga impacted your life? How has it not? Practicing yoga has infiltrated every part of my life. I can’t quite remember the person I was before yoga. Studying and practicing yoga has guided my personal growth for over 20 years. I am such a better human because of yoga.

How does yoga show up in your everyday life? This is such a hard question for me to answer since it shows up all the time: consciously or unconsciously. How I stand when I brush my teeth…noticing my  collapsing chest during times of stress or sadness…being more aware of my breath when having a difficult conversation…being fully present in a joyful moment.
How has the pandemic changed your daily life?  Does your yoga practice help you in any way? For sure….my yoga practice helps me to see more clearly and accept the reality of the present. I am better at finding the myriad of reasons to be grateful. And it continues to help me have grace (and humor) even thru the challenging times..
What impact did the IYCWM Scholarship Program have on your practice and everyday life? During some difficult times, the scholarship program reminded me that I mattered…and that my practice mattered…and that we practice not just for ourselves but for how we show up in the world.

 What has it been like to become part of a virtual yoga community where you do not know some of the other students? Love it! Almost all of my good friends I have been blessed to meet have come through various yoga communities. It’s fantastic to see different faces from all over coming together.

How does this yoga community contribute to your practice? We all show up regardless of our aches and pains and joys and sorrows. That is supportive just on its own. My fellow students ask such great questions, are so honest with their struggles and genuinely happy to see each other improve.
How has the switch to online classes during the pandemic affected your sense of community? How does it help stay connected? How does it fall short? For me, it strengthened my sense of community and connection. There is something intimate about being in someones home (even if it’s virtual). We all bring  a bit more of ourselves to class whether it thru the room we practice or our animals that share our space. The online schedule has allowed me to attend classes more often because there was not the added travel time. At home, I found myself having an easier time staying present in my own practice and work on being more sensitive in poses. Personally, the only shortfalls are no Susan Elena or partner assists…no rope wall…and missing the beauty and energy of the studio.
What do you think about the future of hybrid yoga classes – some people in person some online? Love it all. For me, both being in person and virtual are wonderful. But I also think it’s because of Susan Elena and what an amazing talented teacher she is.
Any advice for those seeking to connect to a virtual yoga community? 
Sure…just join IYCWM!

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