Qoya: Giving Birth to Your Story

Someone once told me to “live where you pray the best.”

It inspired me to find places in the world
where I write the best because for me,
writing is a form of prayer.

Join me at a private chateau in France
to honor the stories you are ready to tell.

Imagine a circle of women gathering each afternoon
by a cozy fire for writing and storytelling in the grand salon of the chateau. 
It smells and feels like the holidays as we take time to nurture ourselves
and our stories over afternoon tea. 

Please join Betsy for daily Qoya and writing circles, walks in the woods,
a spoken word salon and evenings filled with gourmet dinners and French wines.

We will be telling the stories that make us remember why our voices matter.

The retreat is a Qoya Writing Retreat but this time we will go deeper
into sensual movement as a way to stimulate our second chakra,
awakening our creativity super powers. 

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.
— Martha Graham

A Qoya Writing retreat is an invitation to connect to the wisdom of your body as a portal to your stories.

Through movement and writing prompts, you’ll learn to let your body guide you deeper into your storytelling and honoring your voice.

"Betsy’s intuitive writing prompts have been a deep inspiration. They have uncovered the
story within and taken me down writing pathways I could’ve never imagined."

MELANIE ERICKSEN, www.soulplay.us

What is a Qoya Writing Retreat?
Qoya is a shift in consciousness that evolves the way we have been taught to move our bodies as women. Classes combine the wisdom of yoga, creative expression in free dance and the joy found in feminine movement. During the retreat, your writing is drawn from intuition and inspiration that comes through in Qoya giving rise to the stories you are meant to share with one person – or with the world. Suggested reading before the retreat: Qoya: A Compass for Navigating and Embodied Life that is Wise, Wild and Free

Do I need to be a writer to attend?
Betsy believes we all have a story to tell and finds that movement - Qoya - is a natural way to keep the channels of inspiration open. There are no levels in Qoya (and no way to do it wrong) and no levels in writing needed to enjoy, benefit and be inspired during the retreat. You will receive a three song writing ritual designed to keep the stories flowing even after you leave the chateau.


Betsy Blankenbaker is an inspired writer and filmmaker telling important stories of the marginalized voices of the world. She is a Certified Qoya Teacher and teaches pop-up Qoya classes as she travels. In 2016, she taught at the first ever Qoya Collective Retreat. She also teaches kids Qoya classes at the school she sponsors in Zimbabwe through her NGO, House of Loveness.

"The retreat was everything I was hoping it would be—powerful Qoya classes, fantastic writing exercises, incredible food and wine, a pinch-me-is-this-real location, quality time by the pool, and exploring the surrounding forests, heartfelt connections with kindred spirits, and Betsy's wise, wonderful, loving guidance. I'm ready to go back!” 


“I didn’t know anything about Qoya but I didn’t care! I knew I needed to sign up for the retreat in France.”


"Working with Betsy was one of those experiences where the veil lifts and you realize just how magical life can be—that is not to say writing my story of trauma was easy, but she lovingly guided me through the process. When I would get scattered or scared, she would remind me to come back to my body and to just tell the story as it happened. Something in that gentle reminder freed me to tell my story in a holy and empowering way.”



Day One – Arrival
2-6pm: Check into your room at the chateau and spend the afternoon poolside, exploring the grounds or take a five minute walk to charming Clerac village.
6-7pm: Gourmet Dinner
7:30-9pm: Opening Circle & Gentle Qoya class

Day Two – Three 
8-9am: Breakfast
9:30am-12pm: Qoya Class
12pm-2pm: Lunch and time to rest
2pm-4:30pm: Afternoon Writing Circle
4.30-7pm: Free time to wander the gardens, nap, write, read, restore
7-8pm: Gourmet Dinner
8-10pm: Evening Ritual

Day Four - Departure
8-9am: Breakfast
9:30am-11:30am: Qoya Class & Closing Circle
Noon: Lunch
Departure by 2pm Blessings for your onward journey

I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories... water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes


The retreat will be held at Chateau de Clerac in the village of Clerac, thirty minutes north of Bordeaux, a region famous for its wine, food, and rich French culture. The chateau belongs to a family who is offering it as our home base. The closest airport is Bordeaux airport, and you can also fly into Paris or other nearby airports and take a train into Bordeaux.


Arrive a day early on Thursday, December 8th to enjoy the chateau before the retreat begins.

Includes airport shuttle (for arrivals between 11am-3pm), all meals and a 60 minute private session with Betsy on December 8-9th to discuss your writing goals.

COST: $300

To add on this extra day, simply check the box to add it to your order during checkout.


Pricing is per person.

Your tuition includes:

  • Bordeaux Airport (BOD) shuttle to and from the chateau between 11am-3pm
  • Accommodations at the Chateau de Clerac
  • Three organic meals daily with wine pairings in the evening
  • Qoya and writing classes with Betsy

Your tuition does not include:

  • airfare to the retreat
  • shuttle to/from the chateau if outside of 11am-3pm arrival/departure ($75 fee)

Register for your spot today.

Select the housing option you desire.


How do I get there? We recommend flying to Bordeaux Airport (BOD), which is a 40 minute drive away. =There is ample parking at the château if you choose to drive. You can also take the high speed train to Bordeaux from Paris and we will arrange pickup at the Bordeaux-Saint-Jean Train Station (Gare de Bordeaux-Saint-Jean).

Arrival/Departure TimesPlease schedule your flight to arrive at Bordeaux (BOD) airport between 11-3pm on the day of your arrival and 11-3pm on the day of departure. If your flights arrive/depart outside that time, we can schedule airport transportation for an additional $75. 

For arrival by train, please take the shuttle (about 7 euros) or a taxi from the train station to the airport to meet the shuttle for the chateau.

Early Arrival Upgrade: $300 Add-on an extra night, Thursday, December 8th

Arrive a day early to enjoy the chateau before the retreat begins. Includes airport shuttle, all meals and a 60 minute private session with Betsy on December 8-9th to discuss your writing goals.

Check-In/Check-Out Times
Dec. 9th check-in between noon-5pm
Dec. 12 check-out 9am

Can I bring my own food and drinks? All meals and snacks are included; you will be well fed! We will cater for any dietary requirements provided you let us know when booking. If you wish to bring your own drinks, please feel free - there will be no corkage charge since the chateau is your home for the course.

Can I book a single room instead of a shared room? Yes, it costs $250 additional if you want a single room. Most of us will be in shared rooms with en suite baths. Please know there are plenty of cozy spaces for private time within the chateau.

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.

Do I need to bring writing with me? No! You can bring a work in progress or start on something new at the retreat.