How do I explain what Qoya is? Usually, I pretend it is an exercise class and say, "Qoya is a combination of yoga, dance and sensual movement." But the truth of Qoya lies deeper in the simple sentence it is based on, "Through movement, we remember." Not only do we remember our essence as being wise, wild and free- which draw reference to those movement forms of accessing our inner wisdom through yoga, expressing our creativity and wildness with dance and be free to enjoy our bodies with sensual movement- that through the movement of our bodies, we remember God/Goddess/Spirit/Source/Truth/Divine Light/Insert World of Choice Here. And like all things we hold sacred, it's so much more than that and hard to convey fully in a business card. Right now, I am on a two month, but looking more like two year or two decade pilgrimage to reclaim the divine feminine (and am writing articles about what I find on the Huffington post).
I have a passion for women's empowerment, my own and the collective's. To me, women's empowerment, is simply the freedom to live as one desires to live. I have witnessed, in myself and in others, that when we align with our ego, we are filled with limitation and when we are aligned with Spirit, our perception becomes limitless. When connected to Spirit/Source, all things become possible and you can feel your place in the interconnected web of life. But to do that, one has to be conscious of what their relationship to that Source is. Hence, why I am traveling and writing on reclaiming the Divine Feminine is because, as a woman, if we can't find our gender in the map to enlightenment, it's harder to find ourselves.
Sometimes, it's best to start at the beginning. My religious and spiritual journey started as a child who went to a strict Baptist babysitter. This babysitter of mine had daughters a little older than me who were twins and who I looked up to and adored. I wasn't invited to their birthday party because I was told, "only kids from church were allowed to go." We lived next door to each other, so imagine me young and lonely, looking out my window at their birthday party wishing I could be part of it. Not for long. I took matters into my own hands and told my babysitter I wanted to start going to church. One way or another, I was going to get to that party.
My first religious immersion began by enrolling in church summer camp, which was a lot like normal summer camp- except having breakout sessions to ask everyone if they had accepted Jesus as their personal savior (with all the adult camp leaders staring at you with their encouraging/condemning eyes). I didn't know what it meant at age ten, but I took a leap of faith into trusting the adults before me and raised my hand too.
What ensued was studying the bible, becoming a sunday school teacher for younger kids and eventually feeling like I was definitely going to hell. Somehow, skipping school and dancing on my couch to Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video on MTV resonated more than being still and silent during a church sermon, which in hindsight is perfect foreshadowing to my own journey. Even though I was a straight A student and an overall nice kid (see photo), somehow everything I did seemed to feel like I was going against the will of God and would be punished. The main thing I learned from my early experience in religion was not love, but guilt. And so, out of guilt, when I went to college, I signed up for a class called Introduction to Christianity. I didn't see myself going to church on Sundays anymore, so I thought this class would be the perfect filler to continue my fear based faith. However, the class did just the opposite. From an academic perspective, we covered that the Bible was not a book written by God, but a book written (and re-written) by man. We learned about during the times of Jesus there were several different interpretations of his teachings and the age old story that history is written by the winners and hence the version we have now is the one that was used by those in power to kill and eradicate anyone who believed differently like in the Crusades, Inquisition and other puritanical religious wars. This class confused and liberated me at the same time. I lost my map. I lost the formula or the equation that explained where we came from, what we were here to do and where we going. In exchange, I received my freedom. No longer bound to words written on a page, I was now free to experience all of life and through my own experience have the authority to assess what resonated as truth.
And after fifteen or so years since that class, I have been searching for this truth in far away places like with yogis in India, ancient ruins in Cambodia, mediating with Buddhists in Thailand, with shamans in Peru and then some, I found my strongest connection to spirit right here through moving my own body, which is why I do Qoya. And why I pretend Qoya is an exercise class is for two reasons:
1- It is. You do experience the traditional benefits of an exercise class- increasing one's strength, flexibility, balance, agility and overall health. The difference is those become the bi-products of your workout. You don't exercise to burn calories, you move because it brings you joy and connection to the deepest part of yourself.
2- Movement is the one of the most effective portals into experiencing spirit. The revelation that I am working with and teaching my next three workshops in Minneapolis, MN, Oslo, Norway and Greece on is best described by author Sue Monk Kidd when she writes, "Embodiment means we no longer say, I had this experience; we say, I am this experience."
The shift for reclaiming the divine feminine is to embody oneself as the divine feminine.
When I first started teaching yoga, I would often say at the end in savasana, "Remember we are not human doings, we are human beings. Just allow yourself to be." May we all soften our search to allow the Divine Feminine to just live, breath and be in us today.
How did your relationship to Spirit/Source begin?
How do you access Spirit/Source now?
Do you believe that you can do it through the simple action of moving your own body?
I do! Join me for an experiment to see if it's true for you too. You can always move with me for free online at EmbodyQoya.com under the Intro Section or join for $30 a month and have access to over 50 videos, including full 1 hour Qoya classes. I will also be teaching a workshop in Minneapolis, MN September 4-9th, 2012 at Four Gates, a workshop in Oslo, Norway September 20-24, 2012 and a Qoya Retreat in Greece Sept. 29-Oct 4 (with an optional add-on for 3 nights in Athens and 3 nights in Istanbul) this fall. Would love to dance with you!
With love and leaping,
P.S. Thank you for all your support for my Huffingpost Blogs! My most recent article on my time in Rome is up and you can find it here. xo!