Once a month, we will be highlighting a Qoya dancer in the community. I'll ask a woman who has embodied Qoya and it's philosophy to share what it means to her. Today, I'm delighted to introduce our first interview with Kitty Cavalier, who teaches Qoya in New York City and is the founder of the School of Charm and Cheek where she shares her gifts teaching Qoya and burlesque classes, Seduction as a Spiritual Practice Workshops and Retreats, as well as other fun things like make-up tricks and magic candle rituals! Enjoy her words here.
How do you describe Qoya in your words?
This is a toughie! To describe Qoya is kind of like trying to describe swimming in the Ocean, you just have to experience it. How can you describe something that brings you bliss beyond words? I usually do so logistically at first: “It is a class that combines yoga, dance, and sensual, free movement.” I also drop in little love bombs like “it has completely changed my relationship to my body and my life” or, “I now look forward to exercise the way I look forward to a massage thanks to Qoya”.
How does Qoya tap you into your wisdom in your life?
Qoya has taught me that my body knows everything. If there is a situation I feel stuck in, or stuck on, I know that as soon as I turn on a song and start to move, everything will suddenly make sense. I remember that (even though this sounds a bit like new age fluff) we are all Divine and eternal. It’s one thing to know that in your head, but Qoya makes that wisdom available to me in my body, any time I want or need to access it.
How does Qoya evoke your wildness in your life?
Well, I’m definitely always the one to start the dancing at a party now! I really think our bodies are like our own little universes. What you can feel in your body exists in your universe. If you know what it feels like to lose yourself in your dance, your sweat, your pounding heart, those are the moments are when the wild, untamed, organic soul is unleashed. Knowing what that feels like on the inside allows me to create it on the outside – in my work life, my home life, my spiritual life, my love life (hubba-hubba), and everything in-between!
How does Qoya help you revel in your choice to be free in your life?
One of the things I am most grateful for the level of freedom I feel in each moment thanks to Qoya. I was in yoga class today remembering all the times that I would try to follow what everyone else was doing, causing myself pain in my body and beating myself up for not being “flexible” or “strong” enough. Through practicing Qoya, I now know that my body is MY BODY. If someone is telling me to move it in a way that doesn’t feel right, I am free to stop and choose what feels good. I don’t have to conform to what others are telling me to do. I choose what I want, and trust that it is always the right choice, because it is my choice.
Qoya is based on the idea that through movement, we remember.
What do you remember in Qoya?
I often ask this question of my students during stretching at the end of the class so that they can capture the experience they had in class.
The answers are always the same for everyone.
I remember that everything is going to be ok.
I remember that I am divine.
I remember that my life rocks.
I remember that being a woman rocks.
I remember that I am powerful.
I remember that I can do anything.
I remember that my body knows all.
I remember that if it feels good, that means I am doing it right.
Thank you Kitty! So grateful for you shining your light on and through Qoya.
One of the things I am so inspired by is Kitty's desire to give and share what has evolved her on her soul's journey. Teaching Qoya over the weekend in LA, we explored the theme of what is under our New Year's resolutions, intentions, goals or visions. Other than the rewards that manifest in our lives, what is the the essence of what we want to give away. We offered that gift as an intention as we danced our sun salutations. We embodied the sensation of how it feels when we share our gifts with the world as we free danced. I've found the greatest consequence of following your deepest intentions and truest desires is a feeling of fulfillment and joy. I've also found one of the quickest ways to experience joy in the body is through Bhangra dancing.
Check out this 5 minute Qoya Bhangra 101 video here and see if it is true for you too! Remember, Qoya is an EXPERIENTIAL path. It is not about understanding the concepts, but feeling the pulse of them in present time in your body, mind, heart and soul. In other words, instead of a mental exercise of nodding your head as you read, get up and move!
Dear Qoya Queens,
Do you remember that Qoya translates in Quechuan as Queen? Not a bejeweled and emotionally distant Queen in a castle, but a feminine manifestation of higher consciousness that is confidently seated on the throne that is her life. In a way, that is one of the best ways that I can explain all that I have come to study and learn about December 21, 2012. This is our individual and collective opportunity to shift our consciousness into it's highest vibration to embody and radiate our inner Queen, which is another way to say, our divinity.
My friends over at Astrostyle.com explain this auspicious day on December 21, 2012 as marking the end of a 5,125 year cycle of the Mayan calendar and the beginning of another era. It's more of a "the end of the world as we know it," than a literal Armageddon. In fact, the Mayans call the post-2012 era The World Of The Fifth Sun or The Fifth World. The Mayans were profound record keepers and mathematicians, both astronomers and astrologers. Another occurrence they predicted for December 21, 2012 was that both the Earth and the Sun would align with the Galactic Center-- an event which has not happened for 26,000 years (the time the Ice Age began). Just as the Sun is the center of our solar system, the Galactic Center is the gravitational field that the entire Milky Way revolves around! So, this alignment of Earth, Sun, and Galactic Center connects us to worlds beyond our own, fiery and mysterious with an indescribable pull. This post is my offering for a guide to the end of the world (as we know it), with the intention of centering into your own essence as wise, wild and free and seated powerfully on the throne of your life.
I meditated deeply on "where to go" for the solstice. Mt. Shasta? Hawaii? Back to Minnesota where I was born? New York? LA? The mountains? The ocean? The answer I received was, "There is no where to go out there. The only place to go is within." For those of you who are sensitive to the subtle energies shifting, be sure to take time to align yourself with an internal focus. When researching guidance on how to navigate through these changes, the Shamanic wisdom that came forward was, "The assignment each person is given during this time is to listen deeply to and trust themselves and their intuition." This is the perfect application of all the practices of yoga, meditation, clearing your system with green juices and eating organic whole foods and other self-development healing practices that all of us have been exposed to up to this point. This advice need not be applied from a place of fear. Regardless of the Mayan Calendar ending and the predictions for an evolution in human consciousness, even if you don't personally feel a huge shift in your world right now, it's never a bad idea to establish a more powerful connection with trusting yourself. And since it has been 26,000 years since we were aligned with Galactic Center....why not? Just do it. Go in. Trust yourself more deeply than ever before.
Here are three invitations to take you deeper in for your own guidance today.
1) Click here to do a 20 minute December 21, 2012 Forgiveness meditation with Alberto Villoldo, founder of the Four Winds Society. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIZi1ODXueI&feature=youtu.be
2) One of my favorite tools for going deeper within for answers is the labyrinth.
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol for the meandering path of the soul that goes from light into darkness and emerges once again into light. It’s a maze, but there is only one way out and that’s the way you went in. The metaphors here are endless.
How do you walk one (or dance one)? The way I was taught to walk a labyrinth was to go in with an intention and as you walk into the center, let all of your questions come up, all of your doubts and all of your fears. Feel yourself asking, curious and seeking for an answer. Make your way to the center and when you arrive, pause. Sit down. Soften. Surrender. Let yourself be held and seen and loved in the sacred center of the labyrinth and stay as long as you need. Release all that binds you until all that no longer serves you is gone. Trust that you will know when the releasing is complete. When your inner voice tells you you’re ready, begin to walk out and instead of asking questions, allow yourself to be simply in a state of receiving. Give your inner voice an opportunity to share what it longs to remind you of.
How can you make one? You can make one out of yarn in your living room, out of sticks in your backyard or in the sand at the beach. Make a labyrinth by making a spiral starting in the center and energizing and charging it with your presence as you make circles around it. As many as seven spirals around, as few as two, do what feels right and whatever you have room for.
3) Do Qoya. Qoya is based on the idea that through movement, we remember. We remember our essence, our truth, our spirit as wise, wild and free. Here is a free hour long Qoya class with the theme Feel As Much As You Can and access your inner knowing and feelings as a guide to navigate this sacred time.
I am so grateful for your support of Qoya and honor your courageous soul as we dream a bigger dream for ourselves and for humanity. A return to love. A remembering of spirit. A dance that feels honest and true.
My last blog post was titled 3 easy ways to learn how to listen to your intuition. If you're going to write about encouraging others to listen to their intuition, it puts oneself in a position of moral obligation to do the same, in order to be in integrity. So, when I received a clear intuitive message that said, "Go to Minnesota for your birthday and (specifically) go to the physical land that you were born on," I booked my ticket and packed my suitcase.
The first couple days of my visit in Minnesota, I found myself completely enchanted with my friends and family, with the beauty of all the gorgeous gardens, parks, bike trails and outdoor concerts. I went to a bunch of delicious farm to table restaurants like the Birchwood cafe, Lucia's, French Meadow and vegan oasis Ecopolitan. I was overwhelmed by the amazing women who attended my Qoya weekend workshop at Four Gates and I found myself thinking "...maybe I could move back here and make Minnesota my home base?"
I looked up the address of the hospital I was born in and was off for my pilgrimage to visit the place where this trip around the sun first began. When I arrived at what used to be the hospital where I entered this world, I couldn't believe what had replaced it- a beautiful (and chic) apartment building that just opened. In that moment, my intuitive vision became clear - I'm coming home.
After having my intuition guide me so clearly to my next home, I went for a walk in the closest part to this apartment building and came across this poem by T.S. Eliot. The words were the stamp and seal of approval, the poetic synchronicity that describing goes beyond words. When you can feel your place in the web of interconnection amongst all things. To feel your intuition is to feel plugged in and supported in a way that is stronger than isolated and alone. Reading this poem, could make anyone want to go home- to go back to the beginning, back to the space between two waves of the sea.
I believe that the easiest way to tap into your intuition, into your happiness, into life- is to learn how to feel it through your body, through movement.
Qoya is based on this idea that through movement, we remember. We remember, as women, that we are inherently wise, wild and free.
That through movement, we can experience our own way home. Back to the place we started our journey in our body and knowing it for the first time.
On my birthday, something else happened. I launched the Qoya online studio! It's a growing collection of videos ranging from 5-10 ,15, 30 and 60 minute videos that remind you that your body is an incredible resource of wisdom to answer your deepest questions. Videos that remind you that your body is a vessel to wildly and creatively express your essence. That your body is one of the easiest ways to be liberated, to feel free and to have a daily experience of your power, purpose and pleasure.
My dream is to share all the things in which I have been blessed to experience and learn and create them in a format that is easy, effective and fun to serve, nurture and inspire others on their journey. Do you have 5-6 minutes today to do the first day of the 10 Free Days to Embody Qoya? A little movement goes a long way. Just a moment of remembering can be the kickstart you need. It can be like control-alt-delete to reset your system again. It can be the realigning of your compass, so that your body's wisdom can guide you home.
For the pilgrimage back to one's body, there's Qoya. And now, you can have access to Qoya through your internet connection with dozens and dozens of videos on EmbodyQoya.com as well. And then, there are retreats, which are sacred time to live the philosophy of Qoya morning, noon and night with morning meditation and breathing, longer Qoya classes, healthy delicious meals, adventures and learning how to sit with the sacred in ceremonies and goddess rituals. The next 2 retreats are planned for Greece in the Fall and Costa Rica in the Spring. I'll also be teaching classes in NYC at Sacred in Brooklyn Sunday July 8th and 15th at 5:15pm and another workshop in Minneapolis Sept 4-9th. I am so grateful for the growing community of dancers, for all the blessings that are and all the blessings that are to be.
Once upon a time my understanding of the definition of Qoya was Queen. And Queen meaning a female manifestation of higher consciousness. Then, on my most recent trip to Peru, I stumbled upon Qoya tombs and they weren't just for these Queens I had imagined in times of old. My tour guide told me the Qoya people were a CIVILIZATION of people- not just women, also including men and children. This revelation of a bigger meaning for the word Qoya was happening simultaneously as four Norwegian graduate students appeared to help create Qoya Kids. During this same time, I was invited to teach at Omega they asked me to teach a class for men. Qoya for kids? Qoya for men?
Always devoted to dancing with life as it shows up, Qoya is expanding. We (the Norwegians in the photo to the left , along with Qoya dancer and amazing mom Deb Javerbaum and I) headed out to Shelter Island to sit around a table and compile research and our experience to brainstorm how would Qoya look for children. Then we rallied a bunch of human beings under the age of 13 together and started to dance. Turns out, they love it. We shot and edited a couple videos, drew illustrations and are refining text for an easy one page print out for teachers, parents/caretakers and/or kids to use and more. We're also planning a Qoya Kids teacher training in NYC in July. Join our mailing list to find out more.
And then...for the first time ever, we had Qoya classes for men at Omega! I decided I would teach the same class I teach for women, with some different music choices and a few less hip circles. The men were super sweet, receptive, great dancers and one of them asked to be the first Qoya for men teacher! I asked for their feedback after class. Here's what I got-
"One of the things I became aware of early on in the class was that I was not learning something new or the form of Qoya, but what Qoya was teaching me was to clear away the barriers that obscured the knowledge that I innately have, that I know how to move my body. The Qoya class taught me to let go of the idea that would make me think that I don't know these things."
He got it! Qoya is not about learning of form of what it is supposed to "loos" like. It is about looking for the place in each individual person, in each individual moment, that "feels" good and sensing and valuing the pleasurable sensation of moving your body to let that guide you. It is about shifting our focus from searching for external validation- either by corrections or praise- and move to a sense of inner validation, where the fact that it feels good, is a good enough to do it.
Many of the men spoke about not having a movement practice that resonated with them. Most of them said they didn't care for yoga. At first I was surprised, but then realized that about 80% (or more) of every yoga class I go to is all women. They spoke about not really being into the gym culture either and that they too were longing for something where they could express themselves through their body. For now, I'm still going to continue teaching Qoya classes and retreats for women and launching Qoya for kids, but am open to see what other opportunities arise that serve all of our community.
In addition to teaching Qoya at Omega, I also heard an amazing speech last weekend by Dr. Gabor Mate who wrote a book called When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection. He brilliantly spoke about the needs that every child and human have. 1- For love, attachment, relationship and 2- Authenticity, expression of one's true self. He draws a correlation between our immune system and our emotions and thoughts to present his hypothesis that when we suppress our true feelings and our true divine nature, we suppress our immune system as well. With the link of stress being proved to be a main component in illness, he offers the viewpoint that the biggest stress of all- is not being yourself.
Hearing that speech filled me another wave of inspiration and hope to continue to share Qoya. Qoya's gift is an opportunity to fully express who you are through your body. To know the physical sensation of your dreams and your disappointments, of your joy and of your grief, and not to let them be stagnant. But to learn how to honor them through the prayer of your movement and feel how these events activate your life, how they contribute to your journey- how they are your journey. To me, to dance is the highest spiritual realization. It is not a strong stance for this or that. It is not a hierarchy of one or another. It is not a self-conscious holding back. To dance is to revel in the pulse of life. To dance is to embody the life force that animates all things and in that dance, as your heart starts to beat and the sound of your own heart is louder than the sound of your mind, you remember. You feel your connection to your true self and in that truth, you remember your connection to all things and you remember that we are all in this together and that the only thing that is truly important is love.
Qoya Teacher Kelly Quintia Blissful in Santa Monica
I trust you've heard the adage Follow Your Bliss before brought to life my Joseph Campbell and a mantra for many to live by and a common sight on inspirational quotation cards. But, what does follow your bliss mean...for real?
Often times my bliss leads me to places like Hawaii, Costa Rica, India or outside of New York City and into the magic of Woodstock. Those are all the places I've led Qoya retreats in the last year and I often say, the only thing better than having a fulfilling experience that nourishes oneself on all levels of your being is creating a possibility for someone else to experience that bliss. Always, always, always, our happiness is magnified by the generosity with which we offer ourselves to the world. Always.
I recently watched the documentary called Finding Joe. It's about Joseph Campbell, his wisdom and reflections on his philosophy. The amazing thing that Joseph Campbell did was immerse himself in stories, myths and religions from all over the world and then noticed the story line that lies inside ALL stories. He calls it the Hero's Journey and it is the journey we all take. Sometimes we choose it and become a daring entrepreneur like Richard Branson, a creative genius like Bjork, a consciousness expanding athlete like Laird Hamilton (who is interviewed in the movie) or a world changing philanthropist like Zainab Salbi who started Women for Women. And other times the journey chooses us- with grief and loss, sickness, losing a job, going through a break up or some other shift that forces us to change our direction. We may choose it or it may choose us, but we are all on a journey.
As we travel, the mind yearns for a map. Where do we go? How long will it take? Are we there yet? Advertisers are happy to sell you their idea of the "way." Friends and family guide you the best that they know how, but one of the interesting things that Joseph Campbell says when trying to find your way is that the one way you know that you are on the wrong track is that there is a clear path. If there's a path, it's been cleared by someone else. That was their mystery to solve. Their puzzle to put together. Their awakening. Not yours. Yours, mine and all of us, can only identify our way by going where no one has gone before.
And which direction to go and when to go? Imagine your compass as your bliss.
Here are some hints on finding your bliss so you can follow it.
- Bliss is the one thing you can't not do. (I remember in college I started as a dance major and felt there was no way I could not dance everyday. It just didn't seem possible. I had to dance like I had to eat and sleep. What is the thing that you just HAVE to do?)
-Bliss is when hours can pass by in minutes (I always feel this way when teaching. Classes feel 3 minutes long. I also feel it when I'm working on Qoya and I start to yearn for 36 hour days, because there are so many desires I want to create, so much of myself I want to pour into this work.)
-Joseph Campbell says, "When you follow your bliss, the universe will open doors where there once were only walls." (When I was 18, I read a similar message in the rite of spiritual passage book the Alchemist. The idea was the same, when you follow your heart, the world conspires on your behalf. I had the good sense of deciding I would live my life like an experiment and see if that was actually true. If it was, I would continue with that belief and if it didn't work out, then I'd reassess. Thirteen years later, I continue to make courageous leaps that are less rational and conventional, but are following my bliss.)
And what about challenges? What about when you follow your bliss and then there is a dragon to slay on your path? By following your bliss are you exempt from life's challenges? Does everything work in synchronistic magic and feel like you are skipping in the hills of Switzerland or lounging on the warm beaches of a Caribbean island? No. The documentary offers, "Opportunities to know our deeper powers come when things are challenging" and another one of Joseph Campbell's quotes, “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure."
This is important to remember as to not be overly discouraged when challenges arise. It's normal to have an adjustment period, to experience the fear, the pain, the temporary loss of peace, the breaking of the illusion of control, but the hero's journey, the heroine's journey, is the epic tale of the soul and the soul yearns to grow and as the saying goes, "Calm seas don't make good sailors."
Gorgeous woman blissfully splashing in the ocean at Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica
When you can look at your life's story and see the archetypical threads, you can identify where you are in it. It can guide you to see that it is time to make the courageous leap, time to embrace your challenge as an opportunity to grow or time to look into the eyes of fear and step fearlessly into it and then beyond it. The journey can be challenging and you must know how to source enough energy and power to do it. So...where does that come from? From your bliss.
Your bliss is the thing in this world that connects you to the truth of your soul. You must find this. And if you don't know what it is, you are about to start having the best time trying. It may be taking cooking classes, starting to garden, taking a week off to go on a retreat somewhere amazing, becoming a mother, painting the sunset, whatever it is that awakens you.
Follow your bliss like a compass. Trust that like the sun will rise and fall, so will the universe support you on your hero's journey. And in those sweet moments of your bliss, savor them, savor them, savor them. Also, remember to write thank you notes for all the blessings you receive.
It's also only 6 weeks until the Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica April 21-28, 2012 and we are down to our last 10 spots. If you're thinking about coming, please let me know to ensure there will be a bed for you to sleep in! I'm also excited to announce another retreat I'm doing called the Goddess Altar May 21-25, 2012 in Woodstock, NY at Menla Retreat center with two of my favorite muses and teachers. As always, I look forward to dancing together at the perfect time.
A quick note to wish you a magical New Year. May the blessings that you put into the world boomerang back to you a million fold.
Here's also an invitation to join me in my New Year's ritual this year. I sat down and wrote my top 11 gratitudes for 2011 and shared them with a friend, then we wrote our top 12 desires for 2012. The final part of this exercise is to then take the desire list of your friend and write your desires for him/her x 10!!! Take their desire list and magnify it, expand it, make it a shooting star, add your creativity and love of this person to see something bigger for them that they may not be able to see for themselves. Let them do the same for you.
Gratitude is a great way to ground ourselves in the blessings of our lives and is the most fertile ground for planting the seeds of our desires. We all love to dream, but sometimes we fall out of practice. Holidays are a great time to press pause long enough to reflect on the past, savor the present moment and vision the future.
Know that you can do this ANYTIME, with a friend or on your own if you desire! New Year's Day, New Year's Week, the New Moon, Your Birthday, Your Anniversary…or just because it's a Tuesday.
I believe that when you dance, you access your true essence and feel the sacred pulse of life in your body, from which all creation arises. So, to tap into even more power and magnify your dreams, I am also gifting you this 10 minute movement ritual for DREAMING BIGGER DREAMS. (The Password is: qoya).
Thank you for a beautiful year of dancing with Qoya in 2011. I am so grateful for you and your support and look forward to dreaming bigger dreams together in 2012! (Maybe in Costa Rica?!?)
My holiday gift to myself this year is a one way ticket to paradise.
I'm talking about paradise literally AND figuratively.
Literally, I bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii. Starting January 2nd, I am leading the New Year's Qoya Kauai Retreat. After that, I'm still open to the universe/spirit/god/goddess/my intuition to guide me.
Figuratively, I am inviting you to get your own one way ticket to paradise and join me. There is the paradise "out there". The paradise that seems elusive and temporarily experienced on a vacation, in the acquisition of a desire or in the daydreams and fantasies of the mind. There is also the paradise inside, that is available to us anytime regardless of external circumstances. It is the place where we feel ecstatic. Alive. Awake. Aware. Wise. Wild. Free. Ourselves.
The gift I am offering to you is a map to your inner paradise through movement.
Qoya connects us back to ourselves so that when you move your body in a way that feels good, you start to tap back into your essence, your truth, your radiance, so you can source from that center.
Once you have that tangible and measurable sensation in your body to reference, you can use it like a compass when making future decisions. Does taking this job make my body zing like the way I felt when I was dancing? Does this food make me feel lethargic and tired or full of energy like when I finished the Qoya routine? Once you have experienced yourself at a high vibration naturally by simply moving your body, you know how to create the conditions to experience it again anytime you need it. (You move!)
The whole point is to notice what works. What lights you up. What makes you feel alive and more connected to yourself, spirit and others. Then, do that more often. It sounds simple, but sometimes we forget.
Qoya is based on the idea that through movement we remember. We remember, as women, that we are inherently Wise, Wild and Free. Wise, Wild and Free are also the essence of the movement forms that influence Qoya. Wise comes from the wisdom of yoga. Wild is from the creative expression in dance. Free is from the pleasure found in sensual movement. The focus is less and less and less on how it looks and more and more and more on how it feels. When you're moving your body and it feels good to move, you're doing it right.
Here is the link to aone hour Qoya routine called Paradise (Password: qoya)! It and dozens and dozens of other videos like it will be on EmbodyQoya.com (the online Qoya movement studio I am working on as I travel), but until that launches, I would love to share this with you and encourage you to explore finding the way that your body wants to move, finding your map and your way to your inner paradise in 2012.
I know there are many of you on this list who have never actually tried Qoya. Thank you for your support and I hope that you enjoy this video as an appetizer and that we can dine together and feast on Qoya in person sometime in a class or retreat together. For those of you who I have danced with, I hope this will be a reminder that takes you back into the physical sensation of remembering and expressing your true self through your body. Please let me know how you like the video!
***To prepare for your Qoya class, wear comfortable clothing (the movements are a combination of yoga, dance and sensual movement). Most people prefer to do the class barefoot. Before doing any exercise, it is best to be well hydrated and have an emptier stomach. Always listen to and honor the unique needs of your body. The class is one hour long.
May we remember how to connect to the joy and pulse of life by feeling paradise in our body. And if you'd like to join us in person for Qoya's next excursion to Paradise, look at the Spring Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica April 21-28, 2012 at the beautiful Blue Spirit Resort.
I am a free woman, unbound and limitless in my capacity to revel in and receive pleasure.
So are you.
This is 3 of 3 in a series of blog posts that focuses on the essence of each of the core expressions of Qoya: wise, wild and free. Hands down, one of the most powerful ways a woman can own her life is through knowing how to access her own sensual pleasure. Before I go into how this philosophy is taught, embodied and lived in Qoya, I want to credit the woman who opened up this world for me- Regena Thomashauer. Regena, a.k.a Mama Gena, started the School of Womanly Arts in New York City which offers a 6 month Mastery program where you learn the tools and the arts of using pleasure to have your way with the world. It's also called the pleasure revolution. I've done the course 4 times. I've done the advanced course called Inner Circle 3 times. I've had over 40 of my friends and peers do the course and I've watched hundreds of other women completely transform their lives by shifting into the power of the feminine. In all the personal growth and development work I have done, this is one of the most unique and effective ways I have come across to tap into your feminine essence and it influences and supports myself and Qoya everyday.
Regena is launching a brand new round of her online Virtual Pleasure Boot Camp, a ten-week program designed to take you out of ordinary civilian life and root you firmly in the tools, arts, and culture of the Pleasure Revolution, all from the comfort of your own home. If you feel the calling to dive deep into your essence of being free to fully experience the joys of your life, I can't recommend her work enough. It is because of my experience in the School fo Womanly Arts that I was able to identify my deepest desire and then have a community of women supporting me to make that big leap, which was creating Qoya.
I am forever grateful for all my experiences with the school and forever honored at the opportunity to share it with other women who are ready to take off the lid that keeps them feeling small to live the legend that is their life. Please connect with me if you have any questions about Mama Gena's and I'd be happy to share more of my experience with you. I do truly believe as each woman steps more into her power and her pleasure, it gives permission for another woman to do the same and another woman, and then the men in her life, and then her children, and pretty soon we've got a community of people enjoying their lives, expressing their unique gifts and truly evolving our world. Sounds fun, huh?
Back to where we started...Qoya...wise, wild and FREE...sensual pleasure....
Sensual movement gives us permission to explore how to slow down, to indulge in circular, swirling, non-linear motion; to sway from side to side, to roll around on the floor, to circle your hips and feel the freedom of your own body. The intention is not how the movement looks, but exploring which movements feel good in your body.
When a woman moves naturally in her body with fluidity and power, it can appear "sexy" – and it is. But, in Qoya, we don't do it to look good for an observer. We move this way to enjoy our own bodies.
Embracing our sensuality releases conscious and unconscious layers of shame, guilt and doubt that no longer serve us. Qoya encourages each woman to remember how to access the pleasure that is always available to her through her physical form.
FEEL YOUR FREEDOM NOW.
Stand up and place your hands on your hips. As slowly as possible, circle your hips a couple of times to the right breathing deep and slow. When you feel ready to switch directions, circle your hips a couple of times to the left and start to let your hands dance anyway they want to. Explore enjoying the feeling of touching your own body. Here's a video from a previous blog post last year's holiday season to hip circle along with. It only takes a couple minutes and a little movement goes a long way, so give yourself a couple minutes to enjoy your body, click here to see the video and circle!
Sensuality is only one aspect of being free, but it’s important to realize that tapping into the sensual pleasure of your own body is one of the fastest ways for a woman to reclaim an aspect of her power that may have been previously given away or self-abandoned. Knowing oneself in this way encourages not only a woman to feel free, but to feel empowered. Being empowered sensually often translates to being empowered in life. Qoya desires to offer women an opportunity to tap into their sensuality in a safe and sacred way and in doing so gain clarity about their desires and feel their sensual essence as fuel for the journey.
To revel in the pleasure of your own body is to accept the gift of being a woman and one of the most profound ways to say YES to your life. Thank you for being here with us at wisewildfree.com today. I look forward to the next time we are able to dance together.
Here it is! Today is the day I am celebrating one of my dearest friends having one of her biggest dreams come true. Lisa Bloom is the author of her first book called Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World.
It’s published. It’s in bookstores (see proof in photo to the left). It’s on amazon. You can read it on your kindle or you can buy the audio book on her website. (P.S. If you’re going to buy it, do it today as sales during the first week determine whether it is a best-seller.)
Lisa has a special place in my heart. She appeared as the first person I met during my own Eat, Pray, Love adventure. I’m assuming you have read the book or seen the movie, but if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. My story was somewhat similar to Elizabeth Gilbert’s, the author of Eat, Pray, Love.
1- I also had that dark night of the soul, crying on the floor in the bathroom, knowing my life needed to change.
2- I had a huge dream to travel to India and around the world for a whole year.
3- In the midst of intensely living items 1 & 2 on this list, someone told me about the book Eat, Pray, Love.
4- I read it in one sitting, staying up all night and then calling in sick to work the next day to finish reading. (Side note- I also read Lisa’s book in one sitting. Love those page turners! Thank you to all the authors that take the time to write the books they feel called to write. I am forever grateful for the positive experiences they are a catalyst for in my life.)
5- When I closed Eat, Pray, Love, I went to the computer and booked a ticket to India six months from that date giving me 180 days to try to leave my relationship of five years, quit my job, put everything in storage, save as much money as possible and get ready to take a 360 degree journey around the world.
6- I did it all and it was amazing.
7- The first person I met on this journey was Lisa Bloom.
Since meeting her at this pivotal time in my life, Lisa has been a wellspring of inspiration for me to draw from. Her childlike enthusiasm and joy of life juxtapositioned with her ability to take a fierce stance on the pressing issues of our times as a legal analyst covering trials like Saddam Hussein's crimes against humanity tribunal and also as a trial lawyer taking on David-and-Goliath battles on behalf of the vulnerable against some of the most powerful forces in our culture illustrated for me how a woman can have it all. Lisa has a successful career. She has two amazing kids in college who are passionate, intelligent and a genuine joy to be around. She always has an abundance of love in her life and is recently engaged to her beloved. Mazel Tov!
I remember hearing, "A teacher isn't someone who just shares information, it's someone who shows you what it looks like in a human life." And that's what this book does. Lisa isn't preaching, she's genuinely sharing how she has come into balance being a successful woman in a culture that is heavily influenced by the media (she should know, she's been on TV almost everyday for the last 10 years). Her book reads like the first conversation I had with Lisa: full of passion, excitedly jumping from topic to topic, soulful, centered in the now and drawing on her encyclopedic knowledge of the current issues of our time.
Lisa’s book starts with a couple of disturbing statistics like:
80% of Americans did not read a book for pleasure last year.
25% of American women would rather win America’s next top model than the Nobel Peace Prize
24% of American women ages 18-34 would rather loose their figure than their ability to read
However, she doesn’t leave you outraged with these numbers. The book ultimately reads as inspirational with stories of how women can avoid self-abandoning themselves during this time in history where they have more freedom and opportunity than any other generation before them with practical and poignant suggestions and solutions. To read more about the book, check out her full page book review in Elle in the June issue or online here or just read the whole book! And then read another book! And then another!
Lisa recently reminded me that in one of my Qoya classes years ago, then called Inspired Movement, I had everyone write down one big dream they had on a piece of paper. After writing it down, we shared our dream with another woman and spent the entire class dancing “as if” and exploring what would it feel like to have that dream fully manifest. The dream she wrote down was to write this book. (For more about this technique, check out a previous post I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free.)
We can all relate to the feeling when you have a dream that seems bigger than you. Where you are full of desire, but you have no idea HOW it will work. How is it all going to come together? How will I find time? How will it be received? Common conjuring wisdom is- don’t worry about the how’s, just take forward motion everyday in the direction of your dreams and enjoy the process.
And Lisa so did. Lisa quit her successful job as a TV host, moved to LA, sat in her new beautiful office day in and day out for months and wrote that book! This book that had been gestating in her for years is born today! My favorite part is that thousands and thousands and maybe even millions of women will benefit from the sage wisdom and sassy ranting of this intelligent, soulful, modern-day thinker of a woman.
In celebration and in honoring of Lisa and her big day, please join me and Aretha Franklin for a couple of minutes of enthusiastically dancing around wherever you are to embody the intelligent woman you are and how today and moving forward you won’t let that go to waste.
*As I proofread this post, I am reminded of the flow of synchronicity. I actually gave Lisa my copy of Eat, Pray, Love when we met in India which started an amazing back and forth of book recommendations. My big dream during that trip when I met Lisa was to start leading retreats and bring people to the most powerful spots on the earth and receive all the transformational gifts of going on those big journeys- inner and outer. Those dreams of mine are also coming true. Qoya has three retreats on the calendar and would love you to join us. Please click on each link for more information.
I’ve been back from Costa Rica for about a week and I am still Feeling Good. Hands down, without comparison, the Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica was one of the best weeks of my life. Qoya is based on the idea that through movement, we remember. We remember, that our essence is Wise, Wild and Free. We reclaim our bodies as the pathway to spirit and enjoy expressing ourselves as embodied soul. Seeing over 30 women take the journey into themselves through their body and emerge with bright sparkling eyes, strong toned bodies and ecstatically expressive hearts was an honor to witness.
Qoya is about turning up the volume of each woman's inner wisdom, of her creative spark and of her desire- first through her body, then in her life. In Qoya, we focus less and less and less on how “it looks” and more and more and more on how it feels. When it feels good is when you’re doing it right. This is a shift from being previously dependent upon external validation and transitioning into a place where you trust your body as a guide and not only approve of it’s messages and desires, but you listen to and follow them!
Once you truly know the messages of your body- once you truly trust the messages she gives you in the form of your intuition, your instinct, your gut feelings, your zing- then you can fly. You can rely on your own sensation as your compass. I think I may have quoted Shakira on this blog before, but here it is again, “Your hips don’t lie.” Neither does your heart, your yoni, your gut or your full body zing. However, be wary of the monkey mind that loves to loop you around. If the mind starts to sound like a used car salesman trying to sell you something, that is probably your ego trying to recruit you for team fear. If your inner voice's guidance feels expansive and timeless and bold, that is probably the voice of your inner wisdom.
I want to share with you a couple of profound moments where I followed the zing in my body and the consequences of doing so. These are times where it made no rational sense to make the decision I did, but I just did it anyway. I took bold action in the direction of my desires because I felt a strong hit of intuition. It started with a deal I made with myself around 12 years ago where I decided that I believed that the universe would always support me in the pursuit of my true heart's desire. Therefore, all I had to do was figure out what that heart’s desire was and leap in that direction. Before you read these stories, imagine what it would be like in your own life or what it would be like if we all believed the world is conspiring on our behalf. What if we all believed that whenever we step out of our comfort zone and stretch in the direction of our biggest dreams that we are sacredly supported? It could be fun.
I hope as you read these stories your awareness of the ways you are supported and the remembering of the courage you have already modeled in your life arises. What I really hope is that those dreams that have been a soft whisper start increasing in volume and begin to howl like a wolf for it’s pack.
Once upon a time, I had a feeling that enrolling in Shaman School at the Four Winds Society was my next step. Please note, this did not make logical sense to use all my savings to travel around the country and then to Peru for 6 months studying energy medicine. However, I felt the zing in my body and I am devoted to answering the call when it arises, so...off I went.
After a passionate study of the divine feminine for many years, I found myself in tears in my first introduction to shamanism. This was an unbroken lineage of energy healing for thousands of years all in service to the divine feminine. The divine feminine being mother earth. Many of the metaphors of healing are done through connection with nature as a way to connect with spirit. One of my most powerful overlaps of the divine feminine and shamanism was during a pilgrimage to the sacred mountain Salkantay (pictured to the left) outside of Cusco. All of the mountains around Cusco ground a particular energy and this mountain was said to hold the energy of the "Undomesticated Feminine." Shamans (of the Andes) believe that when you die your body goes back to the earth from which you came, your spirit goes to the heavens, but all the knowledge you acquired goes to the mountaintops. Many medicine men and women will hike to the tops of mountains and meditate to access insight to their questions. We hiked 16,000 feet over 5 days, took breaks to be in awe at the wild avalanches and at the top of that mountain is where I received the clarity of my message for Qoya: that our nature is wise, wild AND free. It was there that I saw that Qoya is an opportunity to express and embody the full range of woman as kind and wise, nurturing and soulful, sensual and erotic, fierce and protective and wildly wildly creative. All of us.
After hiking Salkantay, I went into the heart of the Amazon jungle to study with the Shamans there and here begins a beautiful synchronistic tale.
1- I meet the co-founder of Omega, Stephan Rechtschaffen, but I didn’t know he was the founder of Omega. I just knew him because he came to my yoga class, we chatted a little and then went our separate ways.
2- Two weeks later, my inner voice demanded, “Go to Omega this weekend! Go to Omega this weekend!” “Ok, ok! I’ll go!” I conceded. I arrive and the first person I see is Stephan. I am amazed at the coincidence of meeting him in Peru and then running into him a couple of weeks later at Omega. He mentions it’s not such a big coincidence because he founded Omega and is there quite often. Ha! I express my gratitude for him co-founding one of my favorite havens on the east coast, a center devoted to the evolution of consciousness and bringing like minded people and teachers from all over the world together. He mentions he also started a place in Costa Rica called Blue Spirit and that he runs groups there too. I shared with him my vision for Qoya as a way to evolve how women relate to their bodies and feel their spirituality by embodying the feminine. Later in the conversation, I voiced my desire to bring women on retreat to Costa Rica. He said, “Let’s put you on the calendar.” This was the beginning of a dream coming true. The picture to the right is one of the gorgeous women on this last Qoya retreat fully embodying her wise, wild and free self dancing on the beach. Nice.
3- During my first retreat in Costa Rica last December, guess who stayed in the room next to me? Alberto Villoldo! Alberto is the founder of the Shaman School I attended, The Four Winds. He was vacationing with his gorgeous wife and teacher Marcela Lobos, who led the trip I went on in Peru a couple months earlier. Can you believe it? I invited Marcela to be a guest at my Qoya class one morning. She came and she loved it and then invited me to teach Qoya at her next Women’s Altar retreat in Utah in April 2011. I love how this story keeps intertwining and unfolding.
4- I had the most amazing time in Utah doing my first sweat lodge and going through the rites of passage of the feminine from maiden to mother to crone, with Marcela. I loved the opportunity to learn about the feminine through the experience of being in a true circle, where each woman was honored for her voice, medicine and unique expression. It was a powerful and transformative week to be initiated through ceremony into the feminine rites of passage. Click here to see about a similar class Marcela is teaching in her native Chile this fall. I took many of the gifts of the Women's Altar into the Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica. See picture below from one of our fire ceremonies at the beach where we stepped into the timeless tradition of gathering around a fire.
5- After the Women's Altar class, I took a red-eye from Utah back to New York and attended an amazing event put on by my dear friend Janine Francolini, the founder of the Flawless Foundation. The Flawless Foundation is devoted to seeing the perfection in every child, focusing on bringing more loving and compassionate care to children with mental illness. One of the speakers was Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy who spoke right to the heart of everyone in the audience. Mr. Kennedy was addressing the topic of mental illness as a civil rights issue and asking each one of us to open our hearts and minds to see the “spark of divinity” in everyone and to truly treat others as we would like to be treated, with dignity and respect.
With the 50th anniversary of his JFK’s speech, Patrick Kennedy will be launching this decade’s “Next Frontier,” as exploring the “inner space” of brain disorders –– “a moon shot to the mind.” This event is to be a catalyst for a unified, all-fronts effort like his uncle’s, President Kennedy's, space program. The moon shot to the mind program is needed to combine research, build awareness and explore neuroscience to understand and heal neurological illnesses.
I spoke with Mr. Kennedy after his speech about how moved I was with his asking everyone to wake up to see the “spark of divinity.” What I heard was an invitation not only to see the “spark of divinity” in these children with brain challenges, but I heard the call to wake up and see the spark of divinity in all of us. I asked him if he had heard of the recently published book Power Up Your Brain: The Neuroscience of Enlightenment by David Perlmuetter and Alberto Villoldo. The book combines the perspectives of a medical anthropologist and shaman with a neuroscientist to come together to explain the ever emerging connections between spirituality and science in a way to heal and power up your brain. (I highly recommend this book and sent a copy of the book to Patrick Kennedy's office as a gift).
The moral of this story is like the most morals of most stories. Trust yourself. Take incredible care of yourself by clearing your mind, opening your heart and feeling good in your body so that when your intuition arises, you know yourself well enough to clearly hear and trust it. Then, take bold courageous leaps in the direction of your desires. Follow your bliss. Follow the flow. And write thank you cards to those that help you along the way.
What synchronicities in the past have lit you up?
How much do you call on your own intuition?
When a synchronicity happens, do you pay extra special attention like it is a dialogue with the divine or do you write it off as a mere coincidence?
I invite you to invite in more synchronicity, more miracles, this week. Let the magic unfold!
Since my passion is in movement, here is a video to get you back into your body feeling good in your hips. Do this once a day or several times a day, but the most important thing is to do it. Through movement, we remember.
My way is that of a woman who is Wise, Wild and Free. Qoya and Wise, Wild and Free are the words I use to frame my perfect self-expression, the way that I bring my strengths, passions and pleasure together to contribute to the collective. It's the idea put most succinctly and articulately by dancer and visionary Martha Graham...
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. 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 just have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatsoever at any time. There is a divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
I hear you Martha. I wholeheartedly believe each woman on the planet at this time has a unique gift to share with the world. I also believe that during these times of great change, advancements and reinvention, she has the impulse to share. The dissatisfaction Martha speaks of- the depression, the confusion and the despair, those may seem in the way. But, what if we look at them not as something to overcome or get over, but to go into? And once we go in, what if we use their soulful cry as fuel for our art? As an opening instead of as a dead end? Could be fun...
Here is a little about my journey to find that expression Martha speaks of. Growing up in Minnesota, especially in the middle of winter, days could seem somewhat...beige. Gratefully, I always felt this strong invitation, this urge as Martha puts it, to bundle up in an imaginary technicolor dreamcoat and dance in the land of infinite possibilities.
Through dance, I found, honored and expressed myself. I expressed my grief, my joy, my pleasure, my pain, my confusion and my certainty as they cycled through me, each day taking a new spin on the wheel of fortune.
And then one day, many years and adventures after leaving Minnesota, life started to click and come together. I was finding my artist's way and while living in the creative capital of New York City, Qoya was born! All the different puzzle pieces and chapters of my life evolved into a cohesive whole. They evolved into a message.
The message:Qoya is wise, wild and free. (So are you). The message under the message:Through movement, we remember. We remember, as women, that we are wise, wild and free.
A little deeper: After experimenting with many different spiritual traditions, pilgrimages and reading many books, I've found that dancing in Qoya is the most fun, the most feminine and one of the most powerful ways I know to honor and embody the blessings, challenges and gifts of life. *I should also mention that it happens to be an amazing workout. Be prepared to sweat in class.*
I recently realized that not only I am whirling like a dervish in gratitude for the opportunity to follow my soul calling to create and share Qoya, but as I look around at my circle of friends and acquaintances, I see that their puzzle pieces are clicking together too! Their lives are drawing strength from their wounds, power from their desires and momentum from the support we receive from one another.
I say this to you, because in addition to inviting you to dance with me, to embody the divine through the philosophy and movement of Qoya, and ultimately to find your unique voice and expression, I say this to you to remind you that you are not alone.
Below is a list. A list of many amazing women I've met who are standing for themselves, for you and for women around the world. From lawyers to nutritionists, to bakers to hair stylists, to musicians to web designers, from burlesque dancers to moms- these women are standing in their divinity, in their essence and courageously shining and sharing their unique gifts. Martha would be so proud.
Before you check out this amazing list, 2 things:
1- Here is a video to Lenny Kravitz's song Are you gonna go my way? It is filled with images that remind me of what it looks like to live a life that is wise, wild and free. Things like devotees in India throwing a coconut against the temple wall before they walk in to symbolize the breaking of their ego and anything else that keeps them from fulling experiencing God, being captivated by the beauty of ancient spiritual statues, going on dream vacations- like to Hawaii! Dancing in nature, dancing in a friend's kitchen, dancing! Road trips with a lover, cartwheels for no reason, the unconditional love of a dog, and the fact that Jon Stewart exists (a clip from dancing at the Rally to Restore Sanity). Taking samba lessons, family jams after dinner (making music, not marmalade), the peace from yoga and meditation, recognizing the goddess, a little boy who drums with rhythm, the hope of the future, OM and big body circles of gratitude. I love the scene of a Qoya student from the retreat in December taking the leap to zip line hundreds of feet above the tree line in Costa Rica and blowing a kiss before she sets free to fly. Booty shaking at sunset and backward bends to shift your perspective~all sealed with a kiss.
I hope it will inspire you, ignite a sense of remembering and delight you. Because, I think that's the whole point. To figure out how to live in a way that delights us and from our delight create a positive impact on the collective whole.
Back to this list! I remember hearing, "A good teacher is not someone who shares with you solely information and facts, but someone who shows you what these ideas and theories look like in a human life." These women do just that. So, here's a peak into my rolodex of inspiring muses who have all contributed to my life and I want to offer you to have on your radar just in case you may be looking for them too. I know there are several more women to add to this list, if one of them is you, please send your info to me and I would love to learn more about your work in the world! I look forward to building a stronger community with each connection and feeling our sisterhood thrive.
Regena Thomashauer is the creatrix of the pleasure revolution, Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts and the life-changing/ life-affirming Mastery Program, as well as many great books.
Marcela Lobos is a powerful Shamanic Healer leading an upcoming course called Women's Altar in April 2011. I will be there and leading Qoya in the morning for participants.
Ophi & Tali Edut, the Astrotwins, bring the stars down to earth. Astrological oracles who offer soulful ancient wisdom to the modern woman. Check out their must have 2011 planetary planner.
Lara Rosenthal is a healer and acupuncturist extraordinaire, specializing in women's fertility.
Danielle LaPorte is a woman that will knock your socks off with her sage wild wisdom for entrepreneurs, her site is www.whitehottruth.com.
Dara Cole is a woman beyond words, and that's why her specialty is movement. Her new studio Sacred is opening in Brooklyn Feb '11. Come to her opening gala February 19th! (And yes, Qoya will be there! See photo here.)
Smita Paul is a visionary and social entrepreneur of Indigo Handloom making divine scarves and clothes fit for a goddess.
Janine Francolini is a fearless mother, coach and philanthropist. Founder of the Flawless Foundation bringing love and light to all children.
Lisa Bloom is as fierce, intelligent and compassionate as they come. Civil rights lawyer, legal analyst and also known to spread vegan propaganda. You can always find her standing for what is right and true in her heart. Upcoming bookThink scheduled to be out this year!
Kelly Quintia, check out her yoga and Ayurvedic practioner website Grace in Motion for inspiration and support on your journey.
Amy Gottesman, baker and mother extraordinaire, heating up ovens and hearts in Columbus, Ohio. Website coming!
Aimee Follette, sexy chef of an oasis in Park Slope at her restaurant Sun in Bloom. My favorite salad: Bella Divine.
Alice McCarney, Alice the Oracle owns Alice Hair, an upper east side salon that will truly help you love the hair you wear.
Erin Marsz, Erin lives out loud all of our childhood-rockstar-Barbie dreams-come-true front and center in the band The Hotcakes! If you're in NYC, they are playing February 14th. You'll love it, I promise.
Luci Butler, this woman shines light through her fingertips as a professional musician and future teacher of Qoya.
Colleen McBride is an amazing masseuse, healer and mother in San Luis Obispo, CA. A very special inspiration to me.
Kayse Williams is an energy healer for many years, lover of life and founder of Sacred Alchemy, which provides high quality, pure, organic, essential oils.
Suzanne Guilette is the author of the published book Much to Your Chagrin. Suzanne embodys Qoya by living her dream.
Teressena is a visionary artist who created a new tarot deck called the Fifth Tarot which mirrors the evolution of consciousness many of us are feeling.
Kitty Cavalier is her burlesque stage name as she wakes women up to their seductive beauty with her burlesque classes!
Colleen Lasota is moving from NYC, back to Minnesota this week to be a pioneer and start an amazing movement studio and acupuncture practice there called Four Gates. Website will be www.fourgatesmpls.com. Qoya will be there too!
Lisa de Navarez is a beautiful soul & powerful life coach with abundant love to share, she is all about delighting in your life.
Mishel Herrera is just getting started on creating yoga clothes made for every woman's body and her business is called Dea, which means goddess in Italian. :-)
Sarah Bray is a website designer extraordinaire!!! She will bring your dreams to life in a feminine enchanting way. She did for me.
Jodi Jones is God's gift to the camera. Forever grateful to have been able to work with her as she shot my website photos.
Dame Lori is an amazing soul stylist, pleasure coach and incredible woman. Visit her site to see how to get some Dame in your life.
Denise Cooper, my goddessly bookkeeper who will celebrate with you and whip you into shape all in one meeting.
Elizabeth Mueller is a Savvy Soul Messenger brings those stirrings from deep inside you to the front of your consciousness.
Margaret Shrum is the founder of the Lingerie Diet, which is a revolutionary and luxurious approach to self-love.
Morisha Shuey, Yoga. Massage. Jewelry. She lives her bliss out loud in Brooklyn and NYC.
Barbara Wayman is the founder of Blue Tree Media, a marketing and a PR muse with sprezzatura!
Sheila Hay is the founder of Ecstatic-Birth.com, is devoted to the mission of putting childbirth back on its sacred pedestal and women back into an empowered relationship with their bodies and their experience of birth.
Jill Rogers is the creator of the Seven Sacred Steps, a guide to loving in an extraordinary way.
Nancy Moon is a PR genius. (period). Actually, (exclamation point)!
Karen Quinn writes hands-down the best blog/newsletter out there. Her wit, charm, humor and light pour through each word she writes and luckily it's not just newsletters, check out some of her amazing books as well.
Barrie Cole, widely acclaimed Chicago based playwright, live performer, and muse.
Emily Bohannon is an amazing combination of a fully developed creative and practical artist. She's an actor and paywright, as well as a small business consultant, online community genius who codes and does basic design, audio and video editing.
Jennifer Gandin Le is a writing superpower that helps business owners, creative professionals, and storytellers translate their ideas and passion into clear and vibrant language that connects them with the audiences they desire.
Nancy Block runs a peer learning network for entrepreneurs who want to become excellent managers of their wealth. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Bonarrigo is an accomplished actress, model, mother and is building her own business in teaching women how to take care of their skin and health with pure, safe and beneficial products. Email her at email@example.com
Rebecca Kousky, is the founder of one of my favorite inspired non-profits, Nest, with the mission to have female artistans leading communities out of poverty.
I am so grateful to live in a day and age, in a part of the world, where this many women that I personally know can pursue their dreams and live a life once only imagined. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Don’t let your silly dreams fall in between the crack of the bed and the wall.-Lyrics from Bermuda Highway by My Morning Jacket
It’s that time of year again. The time to reflect on the year past and set intentions for the year to come. In addition to Christmas, some of you may have celebrated the winter solstice last week. I sure did. I found myself following a suggestion to go to a hippie commune of sorts in Costa Rica where 100+ Westerners honored the full moon/lunar eclipse/winter solstice by meditating for 45 minutes, eating a vegetarian dinner and then transitioning into 5 hours of never-ending trance music. Please know this- music is my life. It’s the catalyst that opens up the space to experience my biggest passion, which is dance. Imagine that the music is so painful to my ears I am running through the jungle trying to find some reprieve. I even tried to entice some of the trance dancers to leave early and drive me home by offering them $100. My entrepreneurial invitations went unanswered. The truth is, I would have paid my last month’s salary to get out of earshot from the painful blaring and spewing of electronic noise. I mean, what ever happened to a good ole’ drum circle?
There was one solace found; looking up at millions of stars brightly shining and seeing the most radiant full moon light up the sky. Then, moment by moment, I watched each lingering phase of the eclipse. I thought of all of our ancestors who would navigate the cycles of their lives and the land and their travels by looking up into the patterns and mysteries of the night sky. It’s always been amazing to me that you can see the moon from wherever you are in the world (cloud cover permitting). Whether it is watching an eclipse, a sunset or seeing a profound expression of nature like a waterfall, volcano, a rushing river or the view from the top of a mountain peak, there is a magical moment when we feel connected to source. The pulse of life that makes the ocean waves rise and fall, seeds turn into food that nourishes our bodies, the force that propels a monkey to jump from tree to tree or the rhythmic pull that draws the soft sensation of our breath in and out. Experiencing that pulse of life is our soul food. The connection to source is what nurtures us on our deepest level of awareness and energized by source, we gather strength and momentum to go for our next dream.
I had a big year of dancing with my desires, of putting those silly dreams out into the world, by launching my business, website and my first retreat this year. I’m just getting back online after a week long retreat in Costa Rica leading 13 women through the heart of Qoya and embodying the feminine by doing daily 3 hour Qoya classes every morning immersed in the jungle, going on afternoon excursions like horseback riding during sunset, surfing friendly beginner waves (everyone that went stood up on the board!), zip lining across the tree canopy hundreds of feet in the air, getting massages and experiencing the oh-so-powerful and healing afternoon nap. Before each Qoya class, I like to give a quick 30 second intro saying,
Qoya is based on the idea that through movement we remember. We remember, as women, that we are wise, wild and free. We draw on the wisdom of yoga, creative expression in dance and the pleasure found in sensual movement as a way to embody and express our feminine essence. Qoya is about dancing in the question, “How does a woman’s body want to move and more specifically, how does your body want to move?” The focus is less on how it looks and more on how it feels and when it feels good to be in your body, you’re know you’re doing it right.
From there, we turn on the music and go on a journey. In my experience teaching Qoya classes for the last 2 years and teaching other forms of yoga and dance for the last 8 years, I’ve found that women light up when they go beyond the "going through the motions" approach to movement of right, left, up, down, turn, twist and evolve their consciousness to move with intention and expression.
In one exercise in Costa Rica, I invited each woman to think of something they deeply wished for and then dance “as if.” Dance and embody how it would feel when this wish becomes fully manifest. The next song, she would continue embodying the feeling of living the full expression of her dreams on one side of the yoga mat and on the other side of the mat she'd embody what it would feel like if she didn’t try. The point is to start to realize what it would feel like in your body if you gave up. What if you surrendered to the the fear, to the doubt? While uncomfortable, it can be very powerful and motivating to realize what is at stake. To realize that our "silly dreams" are not in fact silly. To realize that the only thing more painful or scary than taking that bold leap in the direction of our desires, is not taking it. Every single one of us has a unique gift to share with this world and our deepest dreams and desires are a great map towards the next step on that journey.
As you celebrate this holiday season, solstice and new year, I encourage you to take some time to make a long gratitude list for the blessings that have crossed your path this year. Our appreciation is the fertile ground to plant the seeds of our desires. From there, pick one of your top 2011 desires and dance “as if.” Dance your heart out loud. Make all of your movement like an exaggerated heartbeat. I recommend What a Feeling by Irene Cara (see YouTube video below) from the Flashdance soundtrack as a sure-fire song to lift your spirits. After that, tune into the song Bermuda Highway by Morning Jacket (also attached below) and assign one side of your yoga mat or the room to be dancing “as if” or what it would feel like to live your dreams fully manifested in the world and on the other side explore what it would be like if you didn’t try, if your succumbed to your doubt and fear. Also, spend time dancing in between and notice how the vacillation between each side feels. Set the intention for this exercise to give you information to strengthen you for the blessings and challenges on your path this upcoming year.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. - Anais Nin
Imagine women collectively daring to dream bigger dreams and encouraging other women around them to do the same. Let's make 2011 a year to press the edge, to expand and to evolve.
My desire for you this Holiday Season, Winter Solstice and New Year is to feel and embody the zing of excitement and enthusiasm in the direction of your dreams, infinite winks from the universe sending their support with coincidences and synchronicities that can only be explained by magic and to feel the pulse of life dancing through you and you dancing through life.
I would love to dance with you in 2011! Our Costa Rica Retreat was such an amazing success, we decided to do it again in April. Mark your calendars for April 16-23 in Costa Rica and stay tuned for a list of classes in NYC, a Qoya Road Trip Schedule and other fun 2011 dates!
May the beauty of what you love be what you do - Rumi
I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.
In my Qoya class last night, we began dancing to Nina Simone’s version of I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free. The lyrics continue...
I wish I could break all the chains holdin’ me. I wish I could say all the things that I should say. Say ‘em loud. Say ‘em clear. For the whole ‘round world to hear. I wish I could share all the love that’s in my heart. Remove all the doubts that keep us apart. I wish you could know what it means to be me. Then you’d see and agree that every man should be free. I wish I could give all I’m longing to give. I wish I could live like I’m longing to live. I wish I could do all the things that I can to do and though I’m way over due, I’d be starting anew. Well, I wish I could be like a bird up in the sky. How sweet it would be if I found out I could fly. Oh, I’d soar to the sun and look down at the sea. And I’d sing because I know, I would know how it feels to be free.”
Question: What does it mean to be free?
The New Oxford online dictionary definition of free is: not under the control or in the power of another; to be able to act as one wishes.
Better Question: How does it feel to be free?
An amazing writer, entrepreneur and philosophical inspiration to me, Danielle LaPorte of www.whitehottruth.com, and I were talking at one of her NYC tweet ups last year where she said she recommends a “to feel” list vs. a “to do” list.
Of course! The idea is this - more than a job, you probably want the feeling of purpose or security. More than a vacation, you probably want the feeling of pleasure or the feeling of being rested. More than a massage, you probably want to feel cared for, that your life is abundant or that you have time for yourself.
It is incredibly empowering to identify your desired feelings. Here’s an exercise to find out how.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer, who wrote one of my favorite poems called "The Invitation", talks about a writing exercise she learned from poet David Whyte that goes something like this.
1) You write "what you say you want" and then write "and if I never have _____, what I really want is ____.”
Here’s my example:
I want to continue to travel the world and make the following stops: Morocco, to dance all night to Berber musicians, go back to the most amazing Israeli restaurant I’ve ever eaten at (it was on some sidestreet in Paris and I want to find it again!), sip tea before doing a yoga class in the town of Rishikesh in Northern India, trek through the Himalayas doing the 18+ day hike on the Annapurna circuit in Nepal and then rest in a hammock being served coconuts in Bali.
And if I never get to do those things, what I really want...is to be swept up in the magic of life. To feel the exhilaration of adventure, the see the bright smiles of strangers, to remember that there is so much more to life than the 9-5. What I really want is to feel connected. I want to feel fully present and enjoy each moment. I want to embrace each person I cross paths with. I want to love.
See the magic? It may be awhile before I go on this trip, but from asking this question, I have so much clarity about what is driving my desire. And those feelings are all accessible to me right now. I can make my lunch outing an adventure. See the smiles of strangers all over New York City. I can remember what ‘s really important. I can take time to connect, to be present and to embrace the people I meet along my path. I can love.
Even better, through the body, through dance, through Qoya, you can become empowered by physically feeling these desired feelings in every cell of your body.
In our Qoya class last night we started with taking time to dance to Nina Simone’s song I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free and to feel freedom in our bodies as we dance. No right, no wrong, just free. Doesn’t matter what it looks like, just focusing on what it feels like.
I invite you to do the same. Listen to a song you love and take a couple minutes to:
1- Feel free in your body. Unrestricted. No judgment. Just soaking up the pleasure of moving your body like a sponge.
2- Do the writing exercise to go deeper into what one of your desired feelings is. Then dance that feeling.
By going deeper into the heart of what is driving our dreams, we become empowered by them and can find ways to enjoy them right now.
If you have any questions about trying a Qoya class or joining one of our retreats, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve got a feeling. A feeling deep inside. Oh Yeah.
If you’ve got the feeling too, now’s the time.
Oh darling, there are a lot of reasons to go to Costa Rica. It will be beautiful. Stunning, really. A day in the life will include the warm ocean, sun shining and being at the beach in December. All you need is love, but there will also be delicious food, amazing women and experts leading you to explore more ways to embody the most powerful feminine parts of yourself in movement, health and relationships.
But straight up, sister to sister, whether it is Costa Rica or something else that is calling you, now is the time. No more mañana. No more long and winding road. No more holding back or playing small. Imagine taking giant leaps in the direction of your full expression. Playing big and being bold about what you want to call into your life. Courageously dreaming as if there were no limits.
Now is the time to come together to dream bigger dreams for ourselves and for our world.
In my life, the magic consistently stems from the expression and embodiment of my most feminine qualities. The connection to my intuition and the earth. The reveling and savoring of the blessings in my life. The conscious expression and acknowledgement of gratitude. Honoring my unique gifts and finding more ways to make my contribution to the collective whole. My favorite are the moments of synchronicity that leave me in awe at the greater mysteries of life. I guarantee that the magic is there for you too. Come to Costa Rica to give the wise, wild and free woman in you a place to dance.
Whether it be this trip to Costa Rica or another big calling in your life. If you've got the feeling, leap! (Like the monkey in the video below.)
Let’s continue to build and support a community of women who are devoted to being wise, wild and free.
Now, let's dance! See video above for examples of the movement described below.
Movement: Imagine clearing cobwebs or pushing back any perceived limitations of: time, money, old beliefs, nay-sayers.
Intention: Reconnect with the place of pure possibility. Believe in Miracles. Trust that when you follow your deepest truth, you will always be supported. Feel yourself dancing between the faith that you are headed towards your greatest becoming and the place where you are right now.
Music: I’ve got a feeling by the Beatles. Notice those feelings, those instincts, those desires and go for it!
Take it with you: Ask someone today what one of their big dreams are. When they tell you, imagine it is possible for them. Then imagine what it would it look like if it was 10x bigger and from the depths of your deepest knowing encourage them to take action in the direction of their desire and to keep dreaming even bigger. Do the same for yourself. Together, we can create a culture of being willing and courageous enough to dream bigger dreams.
Welcome to wisewildfree.com. My name is Rochelle Schieck and I am so glad you're here and grateful for how you got to this page.
Last month I met Carolyn Garcia, who was the wife of Jerry Garcia. Jerry Garcia's voice and music that he played with the Grateful Dead was an anchor to many people spanning generations ranging in musical influences from folk to rock to funk~ all leading back to a message of love. There was an inquiry in the music of the spaces between our moments of remembering and forgetting. Remembering and forgetting that love is always what is most important. Always.
We're human. We're busy. We forget.
But, it's so important to know the ways in which we can remember. Remember how good it can be. Remember how good it already is. Remember the divine spark and pulse of life that lives in us and through us.
Carolyn Garcia said that the Grateful Dead their shows began in the late 60's with an intention to have a place where the community could meet. The community of people who were excited about the social revolutions of civil rights, women's rights and making love- not war. Right now in the midst of our own generation's war, economic fallout, impending environmental issues and 24/7 news media reminding us of our challenges, it's easy to forget what is really important.
I'm sending out the invitation to remember. To remember what is of the most supreme importance to you. The people, places and things that light you up. The remembering of the deepest truth of who you are- your joy and it's expression. When I heard Carolyn Garcia say, "They were creating a place for the community to gather," it just hit me. In every cell of my body I felt my desire to create places for my community to meet.
For the women who want to howl by the light of the moon, tread in the waters of the warm ocean, indulge in delicious organic food and be surrounded in a group of like minded women to continue the conversation of what it is to be ultimately feminine- please join me and Liyana Silver, relationship expert, and Alisa Vitti, women's health and lifestyle expert in Costa Rica December 11-18, 2010 for an epic week of remembering the profound pleasures of being in nature, being in community with women, being on an adventure and time to just be. Click here to see the gorgeous flyer and get more information.
For the women who want to practice movement and learn techniques of breathing, the power of setting intentions, have a sacred space to meet once a week to be encouraged to have their bodies express their true self and their feminine power, please join me for Qoya classes in Brooklyn and Manhattan starting next week. Click here for schedule and how to register.
For the women who want to have access to their source energy, like a shot of espresso, who want to carve out a couple minutes of their day to remember the joys of being wise, wild and free, who want to say yes and thank you to every thing that crosses the path...let's dance. Let's dance today and please use this blog as a resource for you to dance anytime you desire.
Question: What helps you remember? What people, places or activities do you engage in and it is an easy flow of positive energy that wakes you up, makes you feel alive and helps you remember what is most important to you. For some it's the ocean. For others it can be hiking outdoors. An old friend. A new friend. A divine meal. A lover. A child. Sipping a hot cup of tea while looking out the window. I believe for all of us two ways we can remember are through dancing and through community.
Movement: Feel your feet. Feel your connection to the floor. Feel grounded in the present moment through physical sensation. Play with moving your feet as fast as you can. Try to touch as much of the ground as you can with your feet. Remember the childhood joy of hot potato and imagine you are stopping out a fire with your feet. Have fun in your body! See video below for suggestions and someone to dance with.
Intention: The intention is to remember. Remember what is important to you and dance for that. Tap into more energy in your body and feel the awareness of your feet.
Take it with you into your day: Can you get your feet to touch the earth today? Walking in the grass, sand or on stones? Feel your feet throughout your day and notice where they take you. Let them lead you to the places that delight you and help you remember what is most important to you.
Welcome to the first day of wisewildfree.com! WiseWildFree is an online space for women to get back into their bodies and remember that we are all wise, wild and free. To get the benefit out of these posts, set aside a couple of minutes to do them. This is all experiential, i.e. no profound a-ha’s through speed reading. Ready?
Each exercise takes a couple of minutes and has:
1) a question to evoke your introspection and awareness
2) movement instructions given via text, video or audio
3) an intention to focus on the power of your mind and infuse meaning into your movement
4) music recommendations and free audio streaming via playlist.com
how to take it with you - a quick and easy way to take it into your day
This website and the Qoya movement system were once just a dream and now here it is...a living and breathing manifestation of what I envisioned.
It always starts with a dream.
Question: If you had to choose one, what would be your biggest dream right now? If you could write the next chapter of your life, what would the title of it be called? If you could imagine one thing that would be a more authentic expression of your true self in the world...what would it be? Take a moment to think about it and write it down.
Movement: Super simple. Make circles with your body, like you are tracing a globe. First with your arms. Then ankles. Knees. Hips. Rib cage. Shoulders. Slowly. Most importantly, enjoy it. You’re doing it right when it feels good.
Intention: Take your dream into your body and with every circle you make, imagine what your dream manifested would look like, taste like, smell like...feel like. Imagine as you circle the image of a globe, you are dreaming your world into being. Please note: there may be two common road blocks:
1- Distraction or day dreaming-just keep coming back to your dream, put the piece of paper in front of you to keep reading it.
2- Denial or thinking it won’t happen. Uh-oh. Doubt is one of the most dangerous creatures around. When it bites, it can paralyze you for too long.
What to do if road blocks arise?
1- Be courageous. It takes courage to dream big. One of my favorite definitions of courage is from Osho. He says, “Courage is when your desire gets larger than your fear.” Let what you want get bigger than what you think you might lose.
2- Enjoy your dream. Enjoy the part of you that can imagine. Enjoy the moments that you feel how it would feel in your body fully manifested.
Music: Imagine by Eva Cassidy, click on the sidebar playlist along with the video or when you dance on your own.
Take it with you: Throughout your day- if you are in line for tea, waiting for someone to call you back or in a bathroom line- simply circle your body and imagine your dream by visualizing it. We spend so much of our days focusing on our obligations, take a couple minutes and then a couple moments throughout your day to be present with your dreams.
- You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.