There’s good reason for excitement when a second-generation business owner comes home to roost—or in this case, burrow— for Montauk yoga. Mindful Turtle Yoga is nestled underground in a Zen-like cedar sanctuary just behind Buddha Berry and alongside Fort Pond Native Plants. Enter through the flats of colorful petunias and impatiens, and down the short staircase to the cool, quiet studio. As you exit (in full alignment with the day) pick up an organic fruit smoothie.
That’s exactly the vibe owners Diane Ferraro and Danielle Goldstein had in mind when they opened a pop-up extension of the popular Stonybrook studio here at 34 South Erie Street. But Ferraro had an additional imperative. For her, it’s a homecoming.
Richard Ferraro and his wife Frances, who passed away in 2004, came to Montauk to start a business in 1974. They purchased the Merry Mermaid hotel. As a still-active Grumman executive, Ferraro commuted to Oakdale every day, while he and Frances managed the motel full time. Married 21 years when they had Diane, they chose to raise her in Montauk and made their home in a section of the motel.
Diane attended the Little Flower Elementary School. “Then it was a K-8 school,” says Ferraro, “Open classrooms. Combined grades. Maybe three kids in a grade. Teensy tiny.” But it helped shape her life and her love for the environment.
“It was a surreal experience,” she says. “You have all the beauty of Montauk—its raw and powerful beauty. You could explore and connect with nature and everything around you. [I remember] looking at the stark grey skies and seeing seagulls 12 hours a day. It led to my creative side, and entrepreneurism.”
Although “growing up in a motel [where] every weekend was like a parade of different people coming through,” Ferraro says her parents never made a big deal about “the uniqueness” of raising a child in a summer community that was quite desolate the rest of the year. “I felt very supported. I look back now and think about when we moved to Miller Place when I was in fifth grade; it was time to sell the motel. It was the right time to expose me to more diversity.” The Merry Mermaid closed its doors permanently in 1981.
Diane’s father has been a tremendous resource for Ferraro and Goldstein as they build their business. “He has been my encyclopedia, my institutional knowledge,” she says. “He laid the flooring with my fiancé. It’s an authentic expression of drive, passion and integrity. It’s an amazing thing when you can work with your hands and a piece of your heart.” (Diane Ferraro is marrying Ike Ruhnke at Gurney’s in the fall.)
The Mindful Turtle Yoga Studio is open to all levels of experience. “We are known for our high-quality instructors, classes offering individual attention and for going beyond the physical practice of yoga,” says Goldstein. Their philosophy, says Ferraro, is to “foster growth, be supportive and encouraging, and help people find the best essence of themselves which has nothing to do with what we can physically do.”
The duo has been overwhelmed by the community welcome. “Montauk is such a seasonal experience, but we want to meet and connect with the local people. The Chamber of Commerce has been so supportive,” Ferraro says. She acknowledges the difficulty of trying to run a seasonal business but stresses that “we all want each other to be successful at the end of the day. I have the utmost respect for the business owners because I come from that lineage.”
“Things are going great in Montauk!” Goldstein agrees. The studio is currently specializing in wedding and bridal packages that can be customized and the women will also bring the yoga to the beach. Ferraro says, “we’re open to the possibilities. We hope to use this space and develop corporate and individual retreats. We will take our deep breath and move through the season and see where it falls.”
Mindful Turtle Yoga class schedule is available at mindfulturtle.com/schedule.php.