Today we’d like to introduce you to Cara Chang Mutert.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Cara. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My first yoga class was in a small dark room in the basement of the local YMCA. It was not love at first yoga. In fact, I remember feeling pretty resistant to most of it. As a dancer most of my life and still in my early 20s, most of it came fairly easily, and I didn’t understand its subtleties.
From there, life continued as expected, and I followed the predictable map of my life. With a degree in journalism, I worked as a reporter and then editor for almost a decade. I carried on with the conventional path, and I was now married, with a baby. I decided to try yoga again, mostly as a way to get back into shape after pregnancy. It had been awhile since I had exercised with any intensity, since I had taken a long hiatus from any kind of movement following a knee injury that ended my performing days as a dancer.
This time, I experienced the physical benefits of yoga almost immediately with increased flexibility and mobility, and soon the less predictable path began to surface. With renewed confidence in my body’s abilities, I enrolled in a ballet class at the local college, which quickly led to job offers teaching dance. I kept my day job, moonlighting as a ballet and modern dance teacher, and continued to practice yoga. With the birth of my second child 18 months later, the mental and emotional benefits of yoga became even more noticeable, if not profound. As I worked to balance the many parts of my life, yoga offered me a sense of peace and time for introspection. I was able to see myself more clearly and recognize what mattered to me most. It was then that I decided to leave my career as a journalist, focus on raising my children, follow my passion for movement and even began to perform again.
Not long after, my husband followed suit and left his job to follow his dream of running an indoor skateboarding park in Woodstock. Above the gritty WARP Skatepark was a rundown dance studio. Although it was in need of some serious TLC and many hours of sticker removal, it had potential. By this point in my yoga journey, I had realized yoga’s power to heal, not only my old knee injury, but also through my experience in helping my best friend endure and recover from breast cancer treatment with yoga. So I decided to use the space to try to offer a few yoga classes and share what I loved. We decided to call it “The Yoga Lounge,” since the space doubled as the skaters’ parent’s lounge when we weren’t holding classes. I started with just 2 classes a week. People started coming, and I realized I needed to learn more.
With my increased sense of responsibility, I started studying and practicing yoga even more intensely, seeking master teachers, like Gabriel Halpern of Yoga Circle, Chicago, to help guide me. I earned 200 and 500 hour teaching certifications to support me, and as I continued to feed my own growth and understanding of yoga, my classes continued to grow too. I added 3 more classes, which continued to build, but I knew the sounds of Ollies, kick flips, crashing skateboards and thrasher music from the skate park below had begun to outweigh the benefit of free rent.
After about 3 years at the skate park, one day when I was handing out yoga class flyers on the Woodstock Square, I saw a little pen-written sign on notebook paper that said, “For Rent.” Almost weirdly, it was on the door that went up to the space with the big stained glass window that I had eyed several times before and had thought, “Wow that would be a really cool yoga space.” Without hesitation, which is rare for me, I went right in and asked to see the space. Before I made it up the stairs, I could feel it was right. When I saw the skylight and the huge picture window overlooking the Square, I knew it would be perfect. Within a month, I moved the studio to our current space on the Square. Since then, more than 10 years have flown by. I couldn’t have done it without the dedicated group of instructors who have helped me along the way, the generous teachers who have guided me, and of course, the loyal and devoted yoga community that still supports us today.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been mostly a smooth road. Most of the struggles have been my own, in managing growth, learning how to market myself and the studio, and embracing social media and technology. Yoga has helped me move through the fear amid the fluctuations of class sizes and seasonal shifts, and just stay the course despite the ups and downs. It’s the natural course of life.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The Yoga Lounge – what should we know?
The Yoga Lounge is a small, locally owned yoga studio in Woodstock that has been offering quality yoga instruction to the community for almost 14 years. We offer classes 7 days a week in a variety of styles, including more athletic vinyasa flow, but our specialty is really more of a gentle, alignment-based, organic and slow flowing therapeutic style of yoga. Our intent is to provide a safe, warm and positive yoga experience for anyone who walks through our door. The amazing view from our studio overlooking the quaint Woodstock Square is always changing with the seasons and the beautiful sunsets only help to enhance the experience. Most recently and unique to this area, we’ve added to our space Iyengar wall ropes, which help to support students and allow them to experience poses more deeply and fully.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think being there no matter what, day in and day out, year after year, regardless of attendance or class size is a big part of it. Understanding that we are all living a life of personal challenge and struggle with inner dialogue is something I get and have deep compassion for. By trying to stay true to myself, imperfections and all, I think allows others to feel safe to do the same. And by trying to stay authentic to the original intent of yoga, which extends beyond purely the physical aspects of yoga, my hope is to bring a little more ease, strength and comfort into people’s lives.
- Class card rates range from $10-$15 per class
- Unlimited Yoga – $99 per month
- Drop-in rate $18/class or $10 for veterans and students
- Address: The Yoga Lounge
On the Woodstock Square
114 1/2 N. Benton St., 2nd Floor
Woodstock, IL 60098
- Website: www.woodstockyogalounge.com
- Phone: 815-337-9866
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/theyogalounge
Photos by Denise Yager