Editor’s Note: We spoke with Whitney Zora Stetler, the owner of Cocoa Yoga Café located at 13843 Tamiami Trail in North Port. Visit CocoaYogaCafe.com to learn more and to schedule a class. Classes are available for beginners and advanced students.
Whitney, what’s your vision for Cocoa Yoga Café?
Cocoa Yoga Café is a peaceful oasis for every community. A place where you can unplug from the world and tap into your deepest sense of self and oneness with your humanity. Cocoa Yoga Café is your personal place for healing, cultivating inner strength and serenity. The scent of fresh fruit, roots and vegetables invigorates your senses. Friendship and comradery abound as you deepen your practice or take off the armor you’ve worn to weather the storm outside. It’s a place where you can enjoy live music, a place where humans come together to sing and dance, as we have done for thousands of years.
What’s your history with yoga?
I will always remember my first yoga class when I was only 16. I felt silly and a little awkward, laughing with my best friend beside me. Until, at the end of class, in Savasana (the pose where you rest on your back to meditate) all my teenage angst melted to the floor. My tough exterior shed away to reveal my tender heart, and I cried. My friend and I both released the pent-up tears of youth and envisioned such a peaceful place that after the class we could only sit in silence to watch the sunset.Later, as a young mother, I continued practicing yoga to continue cultivating that inner peace I had experienced, and also to help to keep my body strong. I coupled my yoga with running and found that the more regular my yoga practice, the less often I felt like the Tin Man when I began my run. I noted that weeks when I missed yoga, I had a less patience to stop and smell the flowers with my young daughter.
One of my favorite yoga teachers suggested I become an instructor. It was only days later that I was struck, as though hit by lightning, with my vision for Cocoa Yoga Café. I was fortunate to complete my initial training with Ashley Rideaux and advanced training with Davina Davidson followed by more training with Roger and Albina Rippy. Yoga training opened my mind to studying and teaching meditation, healthy breathing, goal-manifestation, Fascia Rolling, and aerial yoga. Being a teacher is a commitment to continuous learning. The more I learn, the more I am captivated by the depth of knowledge yet to be discovered.
What can you share about your classes at the studio and online?
We’re a magnet for amazing yoga teachers that have expanded our capabilities to teach many styles and levels of classes. That includes gentle yoga for seniors, restorative yoga, Yin Yoga, and Buti, which incorporates African dance, jumping, and spinal spirals to release tension. We’ll also offer hot yoga and aerial yoga. We have classes at our studio and online through our website to give students more options for their practice. Additional classes will focus on Fascia Rolling and meditation.
What made you want to incorporate a café with yoga?
I was raised on fresh smoothies and salads. This nurtured my love for fruits and vegetables. I learned more about good food when I waited tables at a small Trattoria under Chef Jake Politte. I moved to New York City when I was 20 to study at The French Culinary Institute. I also studied in Colorno, Italy to learn more about food and my heritage. The best meals were made with fresh, local ingredients. It feels natural to offer healthy refreshments like fresh pressed juice to support the enriching yoga and meditation experience. With my love of food, I found it difficult to enjoy a sugary coffee beverage after yoga. A studio with fresh pressed juice was always appreciated by my taste buds and quenched my thirst much more. Healthier beverages and food items are appealing before or after yoga and meditation.
Where are you from originally and what brought you to North Port?
I grew up in Silver City, New Mexico, a small town nestled in the beautiful Gila Wilderness. I ran and played outside every day of my youth. My husband Blake and I lived in Florida from 2009-2012. We jumped at the opportunity to move back in 2019 to be near his parents. We love raising our daughter and son in North Port. Cocoa Yoga Café is here to share good things for your heart and soul. We look forward to meeting you soon.