With over 300 million practitioners worldwide, yoga is revered for its many health benefits yet remains a foreign concept for countless others. One beloved yogi in South Florida has worked hard to bridge this gap by creating a safe space where everyone in the community can explore the benefits of hot yoga in a welcoming, friendly, and judgment-free zone. Based in Wynwood, Mimi Yoga Studio is among the hottest in South Florida right now— attracting celebs like Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner—and its Founder & CEO, Miriam “Mimi” Ghandour, is at the heart of this popular studio’s continued expansion and success.
To celebrate World Wellness Day, guests will soon have an opportunity to meet Mimi in person and join her for a complimentary pop-up class in Aventura Mall on Saturday, April 29th. We think it’s important to get to know your teacher before class, so we met up with Mimi poolside to learn more, including what to expect during class, her favorite brands and wellness tips, plus all the details about her pre- and post-yoga life, which will leave you feeling inspired and ready to join her on the mat. Without further ado, it’s time to meet Mimi!
Q: Namaste! Can you tell us about your background and how you got started teaching yoga?
A: Yes, of course! I am a single mom who moved from Saudi Arabia to Miami with my two kids in June 2014. My daughter, who is now 11, suffers from a muscle disease, which was the primary reason behind our move. At that time, I was not in a good place mentally or physically, and that’s what prompted my yoga journey. At 30 years old, I had no idea after walking into my first class that it would profoundly change my life, ultimately helping me accept my situation in a new country and navigate how to support my daughter with special needs. I continued to take yoga classes, and then a year after practicing, I decided to do my teacher training and got certified as an instructor. I wanted to share that same feeling I got from the practice and the journey with as many people as possible because I know that everybody out there has a story, and we’re all looking for something to help us feel better. So that’s exactly how my journey began.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most important element of yoga?
A: The biggest part of yoga is not necessarily the poses; it really is the community. We are nothing without a community, and not just any community, one that is like-minded and non-judgmental. A community that wants to move forward with you, support you, and wants you to succeed in every way possible as a human being. That is really what the appeal is, at least in my experience, and I continue to do it on daily basis. If you build a community, then everything else falls into place.
Q: How does your personal motivation translate into the Mimi Yoga Studio community?
A: There’s no joy without pain and no light without darkness. The key is for each of us to show up. And that’s why the mantra of Mimi Yoga Studio is just “show up.” It doesn’t matter how you show up, you just need to show up exactly the way you are. We encourage progress over perfection because the truth is nothing is ever going to be perfect.
Q: What do you want to say to people who may be hesitant about trying yoga for the first time?
A: Every single yoga class—whether it’s in Aventura Mall, at my studio, or wherever—will always have new people who are showing up for the first time, and that’s so brave. That’s amazing! If you’re one of them, know that I congratulate you even before we meet for class on April 29th. There’s also a huge misconception when it comes to yoga. I meet people every day and they’re like, “oh my god, yoga, I’m not flexible.” My response to that is, “if you’re flexible in your mind, then you can do yoga!” Flexibility is in your mind. And yoga really is for the willing and not the flexible. What I mean is that you must be willing to go in and break open; allow it to be an internal experience. That’s really where your journey begins.
Q: What do you want to share about your first pop-up class at Aventura Mall?
A: Basically, expect a lot of fun! Expect a beautiful community, expect movement, and then light bites and an opportunity to network afterward. You’re not showing up just to do a yoga practice with perfect form and all that. You’re showing up to be surrounded by a safe environment at the mall—I love it and feel safe there. Plus, the yoga community is also a safe space for all. That’s really what to expect. Whether you’re a beginner or you’re an advanced practitioner, just show up the way you are. That’s it. Believe in yourself, believe in the magic around you, and you will persevere. But do the work. If you don’t do the work, the work will not be done.
Q: How do you want people to feel after attending your class?
A: I want them to feel good, empowered, energized, and happy so they can take that “yoga high” with them throughout their day. That euphoric feeling really does last at least until the end of the day. It’s amazing!
Q: What does World Wellness Day mean to you and how do you stay motivated?
A: I honestly believe that everything is a choice. From the moment we wake up, we choose to feel good. We choose to find happiness throughout our day. It’s all a choice. Wellness really is a lifestyle at the end of the day. We don’t need a day to celebrate wellness. We should be celebrating wellness every single day as long as we’re breathing because there’s always more we can accomplish. But in order for this whole journey to work, we have to show up. It’s as simple as that. We have to show up and do the work. I can sleep with my dreams or I can wake up and chase my dreams. That really is my opinion about wellness in general…It’s a daily practice, and it’s never linear. You’re not going to have the same day every single day. Some days are going to be amazing, and some days are not. Life is like that. It’s not linear.
Q: Your style is so fun and unique! What are some of your favorite brands right now?
A: I’ve loved fashion since I was a child. It’s not something new. I grew up around my mother who is a fashion icon—She owned a fashion store while I was growing up, so a lot of my inspiration and style comes from her. Obviously, I love luxury brands that are not necessarily related to yoga, but I like to mix and match my style. For example, I can go out with my yoga outfit, which is probably from Free People Movement or Nike, but I’ll carry a great bag and style everything with my Schutz boots. Funny enough, most of my favorite brands are already at Aventura Mall. That’s what I love about it!
· FP Movement is one of my favorite activewear lines, as well as Free People’s ready-to-wear collection. They have a very big selection of both. If you want a dress, you can find it at Free People. If you want a yoga outfit, you can find it at FP Movement!
· To be honest, I didn’t know anything about the Schutz brand until my collaboration with them, and now I live in my Schutz boots! I like to wear my yoga pants with my high heel boots. They’re super comfy and I can walk around in them all day. Obviously, I don’t teach in them, but I just wear them whenever I’m on the go.
· We also recently collaborated with Nike. They are super in tune with Gen Z and their active wear material is amazing for yoga or any activity really. It’s also versatile enough to go out in.
Q: After working up an appetite, what are some of your favorite places to grab a bite to eat at Aventura Mall?
A: I like Serafina because it’s easy and my daughter loves it too. They have a very nice menu. I also like Carrot Express. I eat a lot of Carrot Express, to be honest with you. They have super healthy choices that are just yummy, like the avocado toast, their acai bowls, and their granolas. I would say those two are my favorites.
Mimi Yoga is a lifestyle brand and global yoga community with members in over 64 countries worldwide, and headquarters in Wynwood. Keep an eye out on the Aventura Mall Happening’s Page for more information about MimiYoga’s pop-up class on April 29th.