Courage to Love

You are ready for love.

Giving and receiving.


You've been on a healing journey, and now you're ready.

To pour love into the cracks in your heart.
To dive headfirst into beauty.
To find love as a location in your body.



Self-judgement can be hard to shake loose.
Even when you think you're past old wounds,
they have a way of showing up again and again.

(Hello old friends...)

The heaviness of the world right now is also a struggle.
Its atmosphere of anger and fear is easy to internalize.

No matter how heavy you feel right now, I'm here to tell you:

You can shake it off.

You can physically shake fear out of your body
and let in pure love and light in its place.

You can feel gratitude for the lessons,
the relationships that didn't work out (thank goodness!),
for the heart teacher, even when it teaches with pain.

The heart breaks to open even deeper and wider, 
and this is an invitation to make peace with your inner critic
and fall madly in love.

France is the perfect location for a love affair.
This time - that love affair is with yourself.

Loving yourself is the ultimate path to freedom.


In Qoya, we talk a lot about the difference between internal validation and external validation, or loking for someone else's approval versus your own.

We also say in Qoya, “There’s no way to do it wrong, and the way you know you’re doing it right is when it feels good. More than feeling good, that it feels true.”

What if the same thing were true of love?

When you follow feeling good - but more than that, feeling true - you can love yourself and others without reservation or qualification. You can seek your own approval first rather than looking for others to validate you. You can let go of old hurts, rewrite old stories, and meet the world with love and connection.

Love shifts from a finite resource to something that is always available to you, no matter where you are or who you're with.

Last year, within the space of a few months, I was invited to let go of many of the core elements in my life that defined me at the time: marriage, career and home. 

Instead of falling into victimhood and suffering through wave after wave of loss, I chose to be grateful and to see the waves as cleansing gifts.

There were rough moments, but I successfully navigated that time and can now share all the tools I've learned about surviving heartbreak and loss from a place of love, compassion, integrity, and experience. 

I have spent the last two years making the daily choice to Love in the face of all that is not (or does not appear to be) Love. I have chosen to trust that the universe loves me unconditionally; from this perspective, there is no right or wrong, no shame or blame. Every challenge is a gift and every ending is a new beginning.

I want you to know that this same choice is available to you.


"As a birth doula, Elan has helped hundreds of women bring their babies into the world with a deep reverence for the birth process. As a Qoya teacher, Elan uses her birth expertise to guide a woman to rebirth her life. If you are ready to make a midlife transition, take a class or retreat with Elan."

BETSY BLANKENBAKER, author of Autobiography of an Orgasm


My first love was dancing. Over time, my career expanded into other diverse areas, but I always knew that one day I’d return to dance. I'm deeply grateful to have realized this in a most beautiful and reverent way, through Qoya. My birth name, Elan Vital (“life force” in French), describes the creative energy that dynamically drives human evolution and spirit. I believe that we are all essentially powerful creators of art, ideas, new life, businesses, relationships, and human consciousness. I've spent the last 20 years creating safe and sacred space for people to bring their unique gifts forward. As a doula and leading birth advocate, I've helped thousands of women and families embrace their power as creators and consciously birth their babies with love, respect, and deep reverence for the creative process.

From 2004 to 2014, I worked tirelessly to improve maternity care services for all women and babies in New York City as the founder and leader of the non-profit organization, Choices in Childbirth. As a Broadway producer, I provided safe space for the creation and development of a dozen musicals and plays including Hairspray, Spamalot, and Crybaby. Currently, I'm exploring the world on my Leap of Faith Tour where I'm meeting amazing people, exploring beautiful places, having heart-expanding adventures, and creatively, reverently rebirthing a new version of myself. Come join me on The Leap of Faith Tour for one of my upcoming Qoya retreats in some truly magical places including: Bali, Zimbabwe, France and New Mexico!


On this retreat, you will:

  • dance with your relationship to love and revolutionize it
  • spend reverent time in nature 
  • nourish yourself with rest, movement, and communal meals outdoors
  • enjoy free time for Qoya teacher training, journaling, napping, walks through the woods, or a swim in the pool
  • discover new ways to nurture yourself
  • learn to prioritize self-love and integrate it into your life
  • make new friends in a caring circle of sisters to witness and support you
  • consciously create the next chapter of your life


Day 1 – Arrival
2:00 – 5:00 arrive at the Chateau
5:00 – 6:00 – (Optional) Initiation Teacher Training Opening
6:00 – 7:00 – Delicious dinner
8:00 – 9:30 – Opening Circle

Day 2 & 3
8:00 – 9:00 – Beautiful Breakfast
9:30 – 11:30 – Qoya class
12:00 – 1:00 – Nutritious Lunch
2:00 – 4:00 – (Optional) Initiation Teacher Training
5:30 -7:00 – Evening ritual
7:00 – 9:00 – Delicious Dinner

Day 4 – Departure or Teacher Training
8:00 – 9:00 – Beautiful Breakfast
9:30 – 11:30 – Final Qoya class and Closing Circle
12:00 – 1:00 – nutritious lunch
Safe Journey Onward!
2:00 – 6:00 (Optional) Initiation Teacher Training



Day 1 (June 23) - Arrival
5:00 – 6:00pm  Opening Circle

Day 2 & 3 (June 24 - 25) 
2:00 – 4:00pm Training Session

Day 4 (June 26)
2:00 – 6:00pm Training Session
6:30 – 8pm Dinner
8:00 – 9:00pm Ritual 

Day 5 (June 27) - Departure  
8:00 - 9:00am Beautiful Breakfast
9:30 - 10:30am Closing Circle  
11:00 AM Departure

"The Château de Clérac is that rare place where my mind sinks into simultaneous focus and relaxation. The food reinvents your relationship to pleasure, the people there are the most charming and kind that I've met, and everywhere your eye lands, there is immense beauty. It is truly heaven on earth."

EMILY B., playwright and screenwriter


Château de Clérac is a gorgeous family run sanctuary-retreat that beautifully blends old world elegance with new world community, warmth, and comfort. The castle-like chateau is set in 22 beautiful acres of private gardens and forest and offers a salt-water swimming pool, 2 tennis courts, a pond, and nearby walking trails. Meals are shared together outdoors when the weather permits, enjoying the fresh morning air at breakfast or watching the sunset at dinner.

The courage to love starts with your willingness.

To invest in yourself.
To follow the "yes" inside your body.
To honor the small, brave voice of your heart.

Let the external journey of your body mirror
the internal journey you’re pursuing.

Expand your capacity to give and receive love
by surrounding yourself with beauty and support.

Feel the courage to love, starting with yourself.


Pricing is per person.

Your tuition includes:

  • Accommodations

  • Meals

  • Daily Qoya classes

  • Daily Circle/Rituals

  • One massage

  • Shuttle to and from airport or train station

Your tuition does not include:

  • Travel to Bordeaux airport or train station
  • additional massages or excursions (i.e. horseback riding)

Register for your spot today.

Select the housing option you desire. All pricing in USD.

Cancellation Policy: If you need to cancel for any reason and we can find a person to take your spot, we will refund the amount paid minus a $500 non-refundable deposit. If we cannot find a person to take your spot, there are no refunds; however, you can transfer your paid spot to someone else, so you can send a friend or family member to the retreat in your place.


How do I get there? Merignac is the closest airport, located about 45 minutes South and West of Chateau de Clérac. There is also train service into Bordeaux.

We can arrange all airport pick up and drop off. Château de Clérac is happy to coordinate free shuttle service to and from the airport or train station provided you arrive near the arrival and departure times. If you are arriving outside of those times, we can still arrange transport, but there may be an additional charge.

Arrival/Departure Times
Please plan on arriving between 2:00-5:00pm on June 23rd.
Please plan on departing by 1:00pm on June 26th or by 11:00am on June 27th if you stay for the Initiation Teacher Training.

What currency do I need in France? Euros. If you plan to use credit cards, be sure to let your credit card company know you're traveling!

Can I bring my own food and drinks? All meals and snacks are included; you will be well fed with organic local produce whenever available, much of it raised on the estate. We will cater for any dietary requirements provided you let us know when booking.