With a vision to have a yoga studio that provides an environment for people to practice yoga, grow, strengthen their bodies and heal, Kat Casey opened Monona Yoga Center in Monona, WI in January 2016. Casey, an experienced yoga student and instructor, is also a special education teacher, and started her professional yoga journey in 2003 when she merged her passions and became a certified yoga therapist for children with special needs.
For Casey, Monona Yoga Center was the result of her desire to be more connected to her family and embrace all people in the community, giving those with special needs a place they can seek employment and improve their health.
"Opening a studio has long been a dream of mine," Casey said. "After the birth of my second son, I wanted to make a change in my life that would allow me to bring my children to work with me, and live more in alignment with my values. The stars seemed to align as everything fell into place."
Monona Yoga Center offers a large variety of yoga classes: yin, ashtanga, kundalini, vinyasa, beginner's classes and more. The studio also offers a specialty class called Exceptional Yoga for those with special needs. According to Casey, it's a powerful way to help these students. "It is amazing to witness the healing power of yoga therapy for children with special needs," Casey said. "Each disability is unique in its needs, and yoga can be prescribed to benefit all disabilities." Exceptional Yoga practices relaxation and meditation to help kids become less hyperactive and improve their focus, in addition to providing an array of other mental and physical benefits. Casey can provide this class to groups or privately for those who prefer private yoga therapy sessions.
There's also an after-school program, Zen Turtle, available through Monona Yoga Center for boys and girls in kindergarten through fifth grade. Parents can sign children up to attend three times per week or five times per week. Their kids get to experience basic yoga with music and fun, while also enjoying snack time, dedicated homework time, and play time to socialize and explore creativity. "The after-school program was a big part of my vision," Casey said. "It was something I would have wanted for my own children. We practice yoga daily, focus on mindfulness, provide help with academics and teach children to grow empathy for the world around them. It is a nurturing environment with a social emotional curriculum."
Through these yoga teachings, Casey wants to provide the community with a safe and welcoming place to experience authentic yoga. No matter who walks through the doors of Monona Yoga Center, Casey hopes they find the inner calm, healing and strengthening that they are seeking.
"Monona Yoga is a community," Casey said. "Everyone knows each other, and comes together for the purpose of wellness and practicing yoga. Many people come early, help themselves to tea and chat with fellow yogis." To learn more about Monona Yoga Center, see a class schedule or apply for the Zen Turtle program, visit mononayoga.com.