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Healthy Food And Yoga

Whitney Zora Stetler Had An Epiphany. The Result Is Her Cocoa Yoga Café In North Port, Featuring Nourishing Food And Healing.

Whitney Zora Stetler, owner of the new Cocoa Yoga Café in North Port, has lived a life with as many twists as the yoga she teaches. Born and raised in Silver City, New Mexico, Whitney grew up at the doorstep of the Gila Wilderness, spending a childhood outside in the high mountain desert. She learned to be as attuned to the natural world as she is to herself, and realized along the way that healthy food and yoga are the perfect ways to better herself, and to give back to the world. 

“I took my first yoga class was when I was 16,” the ebullient Whitney explains. “It was an incredible spiritual experience. I found it healing. I got back into yoga in my late twenties after having my first child and stuck with it ever since. I went to Hot Yoga three or four times a week. One day one of my teachers said, ‘Have you considered yoga teacher training?’” 

Whitney followed that advice and became a yoga instructor in 2019. It was not long after that she had an epiphany.

“I was living in Houston with my husband, Blake—a commercial pilot—and two kids (Althea, now 8, and Matthew, 4). I had a really active yoga practice and was transitioning out of my career in medical sales. I wanted to do more for humanity and share my gifts and talents. It hit me that I should open a yoga studio with a café. It was a spiritual moment because the vision for the business came to me quite suddenly. For the next two weeks after I first had the idea, I kept a notebook by my bed where I would write down notes about what the business would do. I called my childhood best friend, who had since become a CPA, and I asked her how to structure the business. My husband said if I really wanted to do this, we should move back to Florida, where his parents were. We found a house with a big garage for his car collection. Our first night arriving in North Port, I saw a storefront that I knew would be perfect. I tapped my fingers on the window of the car so hard. I said, ‘I’m going to be there, I’m going to be in those two units.’”

The rest is history. Cocoa Yoga Café blends Whitney’s love for healthy, delicious food—learned from her time in culinary school in New York and Italy—with her love for yoga.

“In Italy, I learned how to make slow food, looking for freshness in ingredients and making your meals from scratch,” Whitney explains. “I knew I needed to open a yoga studio and have healthy food and a community place where people can heal and get something to eat.”

Blake came up with the name for the business because of Whitney’s love for chocolate and yoga.  

“Cocoa Yoga Café is a threefold of my favorite things,” Whitney says. “It’s a café with food made with love, it’s got a community vibe, we do live music and events, and it’s yoga for any body and every body. We have such a variety of classes that you can truly come here to heal, feel safe and have a community vibe.”

13843 Tamiami Trail, North Port. 941.800.3399. Cocaoyogacafe.com.

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