What is the magic equation to a life well lived? I've been asking this question and looking for the answer for over 10 years now. In my soul seeking travels to different corners of the earth, personal growth class taking and life as an experiential scholar, the answer I have today is inspired by the people I observe to have the most sustainable sense of fulfillment. They are those who have a lifestyle where they consciously give to and receive from community.
The key is to balance the two. To give and receive. If you focus only on giving and don't take care of yourself, you'll feel resentful, exhausted and a scarcity around your own energy, time and resources. If you focus only on receiving and not consciously giving, there will be a stagnation of energy and a discontentment. Giving and receiving is like our own breath, best when it goes rhythmically and consistently in and out. As you approach each person, experience and day, it can be so much sweeter when you are conscious of what you can give and can receive.
To go deeper is to realize just what you are giving and receiving, because beyond material giving and receiving, the biggest present we can ever give someone is the gift of our presence. True statement.
I just finished leading the 4th annual Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica, which is always one of my favorite weeks of the year. Someone asked me, "So, what did you cover? What exercises did you do? What rituals? What adventures did you go on? Who came? What music did you use? What did I miss?" I told her not to worry about any curriculum she missed, but that in Qoya, and maybe everything in life, it's just a reason for us to be together.
She looked confused, so I went on to explain. One of my favorite quotes is when Gandhi says, "Happiness is when what we think, is what we say, is what we do, is what we feel." When there is this congruency between the different realms of our perception- mental, physical, emotional and spiritual, we can really be together and there is a totally different quality of presence and authenticity that allows true connection. How do we come into that congruent state of alignment, integrity and authenticity? Through movement, nature, ritual and community in Qoya. Through movement, we remember. Through nature, we heal. Through ritual, we honor. Through community, we celebrate.
Qoya is based on the idea that through movement, we remember. Through movement, we remember our essence. In class, 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, that is how you know you're doing it right. We shift from a sense of seeking outer validation, where there is no waiting for correction or praise, to consciously developing a stronger sense of inner validation. There are no beginner, intermediate or advanced classes. No level 1, 2 or 3. There is just one level. More than the movement feeling good, if it feels true, you're doing it right.
When we have the space to be true, to open, to see and be seen is when the deeper connection to ourselves, each other and community is possible. It is when we can really be together.
While getting feedback from women after the retreat, a theme that came forward was that one of the gifts in this retreats that made it different than any other was the intimacy. While being interviewed by I AM THAT GIRL last week, I was asked the question: What piece of advice changed your life? My answer was, "A mentor of mine told me that most people get caught in a mindset of more is better. They said that instead of thinking how big I can take my work to think of how deep I can take the work. This advice changed my life to stay aligned with the real reason we do the work and devote ourselves to our passions, which is to achieve the deepest experience possible."
This advice really shaped my approach to creating experiences with that intention, "how deep can we go." I have been to yoga retreats with over 100 people, where I would meet a couple friends and the teacher would say my name once or twice in a week, and they were fun. Then, I thought of the experience all the women received in Costa Rica, where I asked each woman to fill out a questionnaire about what is going on in her life right now, her favorite music and the one thing she hopes to get from the retreat and I studied them, built classes around them and created exercises for them to be able to explore their own truth and have their own revelations.
So much of our approach to education stems from an industrial model of creating output of information for the masses. Qoya is completely different. The learning comes from learning how to access your own answers from within and having opportunities to learn from one another with an emphasis on the experience and community. (For example, the picture above is from breaking up into groups of four and each person choosing a movement and co-creating a sun salutation.) In addition to the words you share or epiphanies you awaken to, you get the experience of truly being together and what the physical sensation is in your body when you remember. When you remember the sacred, when you remember what it is true for you.
So, what is the magic equation to a life well lived? I'd love to dance together to find out what the answer is for you.
I am passionate about Qoya and making it accessible to those who feel called to it, so I am on the move leading classes and retreats in all four directions this year. See the list below and I look forward to being together at the perfect time.
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!
I've been living in LA for almost two months now, teaching Qoya and planting seeds for her to grow out West. In the last Qoya class of the year, I led the women through a visioning ritual that I want to share with you today. It's called a three card story.
First, let me differentiate between visioning and goal setting. I borrowed a friend's car recently and there was a CD of a lecture by a man named Jacob Glass where he described himself as a de-motivational speaker. De-motivational because many times our motivations or goal setting can come from a place of ego whose acquisition is outside of oneself. Strategizing for things to happen can sometimes be a useful planning tool, sometimes a pacifying approach to the ego to further the illusion that it has control and sometimes be the default M.O. to a culture that even when things are going horribly, we can help feel better by knowing we are "working hard." I'm not opposed to working hard, but am curious about becoming more conscious about from what place our projects stem from- ego or spirit.
Ego generated goals will likely be exhausting and when fulfilled, satisfaction will be fleeting. Spirit generated visions will have a soulful satisfaction, regardless of the outcome, to know that you have given yourself fully to the task and shown up not only for the material rewards, but for the inner transformation that always happens when we grow. And why do we set goals or visualize for the year ahead? Is it because we perpetually just want more or is it because we deeply want to evolve? Is it that our dharma, the unique thing that can only be birthed in this world through us, is calling our name?
The vision process is always self-examination. It's never, "God, I want this. Make this happen." It's always, "What do I have to become to live the vision, to manifest it, to reveal it?" The visioning process, then, is a process of transformation of the individual.
- Reverend Michael Beckwith
In Jacob's lecture he encourages you to wait for some guidance and that if Spirit wants you to do something, you will know it. So, when you get the divine assignment, that is when you go full throttle and run with it! Sounds good, unless you have no idea what your divine assignment is.
One of the three essences of a Qoya class is based on the idea that all answers are within. Qoya is like a map, like a labyrinth, into the center of one self to access each individual's deepest truths. The three card story is another way in.
Step Two: take a couple deep breaths to come more into your instinctual being of letting your body lead you and feeling the card draw you to it. As you pull your three cards, root into your intention that one card is to symbolize the beginning of the story, one for the middle and one for the end. Leave the cards face down and wait to turn the cards over one at a time as you are writing.
Step Three: get some paper and a pen out and write this first sentence down, "Once upon a time, there was a woman who had a vision of the year to come." Then pull the first card to tell the beginning of the story. Trust whatever the words on the card or the image draws up for you. Sometimes it can be literal, but remember, the intention is to access the vision that lives inside of you and the cards are a way to access that. After writing a paragraph about the beginning of your story, then flip over the second card and write the middle of your story. Try to let the subconscious take over and write without pauses, just letting it flow. Lastly, pull over the third card and write the end of the story.
Step Four: from reading your story, listen deeply to your words to hear the theme, mantra, or intention that came forward. Notice the difference between setting goals on what you think you "should" do and that this exercise is to take you into your intuition to open yourself up to the bigger vision that lives in you.
Step Five: from here, I encourage you to make a playlist that evokes the remembering of this intention and dance to it daily! For ideas on easy and pleasurable ways to move your body, check out EmbodyQoya.com online with a free 10 day intro and a monthly membership with over 50 videos.
In Qoya classes, the structure is to begin with circling each part of the body to practice focusing less on how it looks and more on how it feels, looking for the place that feels good to move and open your body. Then, we move into heart opening, hip opening, dancing sun salutation or a warrior yoga sequence, learning a choreographed dance, shaking, dancing our intention in free dance, community sharing and connection and we end with stretching. In the spirit of New Year's Eve, here is a short three minute video to teach you the Grapevine!
Through movement, we remember. We remember our essence is wise, wild and free.
May you be brave enough to remember the truth and intuitive enough to follow where it guides you.
May love have its way with you.
May the sweetness of the New Year be yours.
***And if there is an intuitive nudge somewhere in your three card story to come join us in Costa Rica, we'd love to have you! See the video below and click here to register!
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.
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.
After finishing Qoya's fifth retreat in the last year and first New Year's retreat in Hawaii, I was infused with an even deeper sense of gratitude for how beautiful life can be. I spent last night sitting on an island in the middle of the ocean under the light of the full moon fueled by the sparkling stars, decaf chai, strawberries and dark chocolate as I wrote a dozen thank you cards and felt like I could have written a thousand.
From this place of abundance, I feel called to honor the blessings in my life through service with the consciousness of our interconnection. I truly believe that as you get stronger, I get stronger and as I get stronger, you get stronger. So, it is with the desire for all of us to go higher in 2012 that I offer you the chance to give generously from your own abundance and receive the opportunity to come to the next Qoya Retreat to Costa Rica April 21-28, 2012 as my guest.
The fine print: You can win a spot in the next Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica April 21-28, 2012 (an $1,800 value!), but airfare and any other additional costs are not included. To see what is included, look here!
Be entered into the contest by donating $12 to the Flawless Foundation for their $12 for 12 months of good karma in 2012 fundraising campaign. Each dollar up to $25,000 will be matched by a generous donor AND all the funds raised through Qoya will go to yoga programs for children. You can be entered for each increment of $12 you give before midnight on Sunday, January 15th. And there's no limit to how many times you can enter. It is also transferable so you can win and give the retreat spot as a gift! (To men and women~ I guarantee you know at least one woman who would love you for this gift!)
Rochelle Schieck, Founder of Qoya, and Patrick Kennedy at the Flawless Perfection Party in April 2011
One of my top 12 desires for 2012 is to be a catalyst for charitable giving and so when I saw this final push for a fundraising campaign with Flawless, I had an instant epiphany on how to make that dream come true. Here's why I am choosing to make this donation to Flawless. I know the organization very well as I've been a volunteer and have watched it grow from its inception. I was at their first big event at the Millennium Hotel in NYC in 2009. I was at their memorable event at the Burden Mansion on Fifth Avenue MC'd by Lisa Bloom and with the most inspiring panel of speakers like the Honorable Patrick Kennedy, Karenna Gore Schiff, Garen Staglin among others. I've been to their dinner fundraisers that turned into dance parties and I've been on the phone with founder Janine Francolini when she's gotten big news like Moby is coming to the next event and endorsing Flawless and their mission or while she was on her way to be with the kids for one of their amazing programs that involve healing through gardening, the arts or yoga. I was at their most recent event at Freg Segal in LA, where Flawless partnered with artist Tara Dixon and her business Gratitude Designs. I've been blessed to be a witness to the common thread between all of these events and the work Flawless does. The common thread is love.
Not love you only from a distance love. Not love you only when it's convenient love. Not love only when it's conditional love. Real. Enduring. Soulful-even-when-it's-hard-love. Especially when it's hard love.
There is nothing convenient about trying to raise a child with mental illness. And there is nothing harder than trying to navigate your boundaries to take care of yourself when someone you love is struggling with mental illness. The reaction to the discomfort around mental illness is to look away. The ostrich technique. If I bury my head in the sand and then if I can't see it, maybe it will go away.
However, the totem animal of the Flawless Foundation is not an ostrich. It's a peacock. The Flawless Foundation's mission is to "See the Perfection in Every Child" and take a stand for more humane, compassionate care for children and adolescents who live with mental health and neurodevelopmental challenges.
The Flawless Foundation fulfills its mission by funding holistic healing programs and removing the stigma that holds people back from rallying around this important cause. Whether it is our own challenge or that of someone close to us, a culture that turns away from the reality of suffering that our fellow humans are going through affects all of us.
In a time and place in the world where there are so many worthy healing causes, the Flawless Foundation stands out to me as a brave and soulful warrior stepping towards the tender minds and souls of children and their care takers to love them right where they are at, seeing the perfection not only in every child, but in everyone.
And isn't that what we are all trying to do in our own way? Bring more love and light to this world? I am. I am devoted to leading Qoya classes, retreats and creating an online Qoya studio through which women have the invitation to remember the deepest truth of their soul as they move their body. And the only thing better than experiencing a deep remembering and soulful connection to the divine in my body is the idea of being able to be a catalyst for someone else to experience it and imagine the healing impact that could have for them.
I believe that is possible through the yoga programs that the Flawless Foundation initiates and I invite you to join me in supporting the Flawless Foundation in their courageous work. The ability as an organization to approach children with love restores their dignity, gives them the help they need and acknowledges the divine spark that lives in them as the divine spark that lives in us all. We can open our hearts big enough to hold the complexity of these situations and hold space for them to heal and be loved right where they are.
To enter the raffle is a win-win-win, which is my favorite way to play. You win by getting the gift of investing in another soul's well being and you get the opportunity to play with the idea of indulging in a powerful and joyfully transformative week in Costa Rica at the Qoya Retreat (or gift it to someone else!) And the children win by getting exposed to a nurturing environment that empowers them in their healing process through movement.
To enter: Go to the Flawless Foundation website and donate. Send your confirmation email from paypal to email@example.com and write Costa Rica in the title. Every time you donate an increment of $12 you will be entered in the raffle. There is no limit to how many times you can enter. No limit to how much we can love. No limit to how much we can dance. Raffle will be drawn January 16th and all donations must be made by midnight the evening of January 15th to enter.
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.
Today, March 5th, is my mother’s birthday. (Happy Birthday Mom!) When thinking of what to gift her on this day, I started to reflect on what she has gifted me.
As I look back on my childhood, two things stand out. The first is the millions of times she said to me, “You can do anything you want. You can be the President of the United States, a pilot, a dancer...anything!”
Humanity evolves generation by generation and what a privilege it is to be born during a time in history and a place in the world where a young girl can be encouraged to pursue her deepest passions. I am so grateful for the freedom I personally feel to break out beyond any cultural or societal restrictions or expectations. Thank you Mom for planting that seed in me that I now so passionately embody and encourage in others.
Another thing my mom did that was pretty amazing was...she paid for all my dance classes. This wasn’t a once a week, one hour deal. I wanted to take every class my dance school offered. Like 20, 30, sometimes 40, hours a week of classes. Thousands and thousands of dollars she paid. Hundreds and hundreds of hours she worked as a single mother. Ridiculous amounts of miles she drove to get me to and from dance class and her investment was not lost.
Dance was my refuge, my church, my temple. No matter what state of mind or heart I went in, I came out feeling the zing, the pulse of life coursing through my body. This transformation that movement provided for me everyday as a child is something I believe so strongly in as an adult, I have created a whole business around sharing this simple and profound message with as many women as possible.
Through movement, we remember. We remember, as women, that we are Wise, Wild and Free. Calling on the wisdom of yoga, the creative expression of dance and the liberation to enjoy one’s body through sensual movement we evolve the way we have been been taught to be in our feminine bodies. We remember that movement is one of the easiest and most direct ways to be aware of the divine. The divine within us and around us.
I had a vision to gift my mom a video of me dancing for her birthday. I wanted her to physically see the result of her kindness, of her wise words, “you can do anything,” and to see how my body expresses my gratitude to her and the gifts she gave to me.
It is a powerful thing to move for someone else, whether it is a sensual dance for a lover, a song and dance skit for a friend at a birthday party or simply devoting a dance break or a yoga pose to someone else.
See, the thing is- our body speaks a language beyond what words can express. The life force that animates our bodies, when infused with intention on another person, is a gift that goes deep into the core of our being- as the giver and as the receiver.
Who can you dance for today? How raw and exposed and vulnerable can you be with expressing your love through your physical body?
In Qoya classes this week, we devote one of our songs to dancing for someone else. As I invite a woman to do this, I instantaneously watch as her body lights up. The movement brightens. The soul deepens. Her love and light becomes embodied and expressed. It is always amazing to me to see how wired we really are to share our lives in community. I believe our society has mislead us with a false allure of individualization. Isolation and loneliness is out. Community and giving and receiving more love to and from others is in. How can you reach out to a friend, family member or lover? How can you create community and bring the people you love closer to you? How do you feel the most connected to yourself and then to others?
Our souls are yearning for something that is real. Something that resonates as truth. Something sacred. You know those moments that take you out of the mundane and into the mystical. When you see the green flash during a sunset, experience a mind-blowing orgasm, are transported by an amazing book, savor a delicious bite of food or get enchanted by a child’s innocent hilarious laughter.
One of the premises of Qoya is based on the idea that movement is one of the easiest ways to access those ineffable feelings that are best described as sacred. In Qoya class this morning we lit candles, blew our intention into rose petals and sprinkled them around the mat to send a message to our brain that this is not obligatory exercise only for the maintenance of our health or to be fit, but this Qoya class is an invitation to revel in the sensation of our bodies and to reclaim our physical feminine body as a temple for our essence that is wise, wild and free.
Even if you’re busy, especially if you’re busy, I encourage you to take a moment to evoke the sacred in your day today through movement. Here is a video with a simple movement of inhaling arms up to the sky and exhaling while bending your knees, grounding back to the earth and swinging your arms down. Listen to the sound of the waves rhythmically going in and out like your breath and take a minute out of your day to get back into your body and practice your ability to feel the sacred as you move.
Funny thing about this word sacred. It's really catching on and re-emerging into our contemporary culture. In Brooklyn last weekend I taught at a new movement studio opened by my visionary friend, Dara Cole, called Sacred. www.sacredbrooklyn.com . It's a pretty perfect name. In addition to offering Qoya classes there, she is creating a space for all of us (man, woman, child) to honor ourselves through movement and tap into the awareness of what is Sacred.
I invite you to join me for a free Qoya class at Sacred this Sunday, February 27th from 5-6:30pm. Regular Qoya classes at Sacred in Brooklyn are starting this week with Qoya every Wednesday and Sunday evening from 6:30-8pm. www.sacredbrooklyn.com To see the Qoya class schedule in Manhattan, click here.
I also want to make sure you have another opportunity to dance with the sacred on your radar. Qoya is going back to Costa Rica on April 16-23rd, 2011!!! We will connect with the sacred through movement in daily Qoya classes, nature in the abundant jungle and ocean, go on courageous adventures and be part of an active and inspiring community of women. There is also the opportunity to participate in Qoya's first teacher training. For a sample schedule, to view the gorgeous flyer, see testimonials and information about the adventures and accommodations for Qoya’s upcoming retreat, dance as you click here.
Sending you gratitude and blessings on your journey. For those of you I have had the pleasure to dance with, I sincerely feel blessed to be a witness. And for those of you I haven't met yet, I look forward to dancing together at the perfect time.
Shine on Sisters as you feel yourself dance with the sacred today and the sacred dancing through you always.
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
Some get strong. Some get strange. Sooner or later, it all gets real. Walk on.-Neil Young
Some get strong. Three years ago, I moved to New York City. A 20-something idealistic young woman from Minnesota with no job leads, no big savings account, no permanent place to live, nada. What I did have was a strong intuitive feeling in my body. A zing. A deep sense of inner knowing that this was the right move for me. I also had a ticket to see the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. That was September 11, 2007. *Side note- I recently attended the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and highly recommend checking out any of the footage on their website.*
When is the last time you remember you just knew something? Where you felt it in every cell of your body? Where you honored the wisdom that came from your body? Where you took a risk and had faith in your own strength?
Some get strange. Life is bizarre. It takes random twists and turns. People you trust make decisions that affect you, sometimes negatively. People you can't imagine effectively running a bake sale get elected into public office. It gets weird. And as we go through our days, our own perception shifts and evolves. Some mornings we feel elated. Some lonely nights we feel victimized and wronged by the world. Some afternoons we are just trying to see past the cloudy fog of indecision. Either way, the only constant is change and sometimes the change is strange. We can easily look around our personal world and/or the collective reality and say WTF is going on? One thing to remember- sooner or later, it all gets real.
Sooner or later, it all gets real. All things must pass. Instead of getting caught in the dramatic loop, try to ask yourself, "how is this serving me?" Just by asking the question, you open yourself up to the answer. There is a great book about this process of looking for how a difficult situation maybe serving you called Radical Forgivenessby Colin Tipping. Eckhart Tolle says, “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.” If we can get real with ourselves, we can start to see the soul gift of the circumstances we are in and walk on.
Walk on.So what do you do? What do you do while in limbo? What do you do in those inbetween places where you are living between the clear desire of what you want and the reality of where you are? Neil Young strums his guitar and sings Walk on. In our case, I invite you to dance on. Imagine taking a sticky situation in your life on as your dance partner, as a welcomed dance partner. Start to dance with it. Start to dance with life.
Remember, there is a very simple thing that always works to get back into our bodies. A way in which we can get real again. A way in which we can walk on. It's so simple, no experience required. You just have to be willing to try.
What is it?
1- Watch this short 2 minute video and shake along with it! On your own, shake each part of your body for 10-15 seconds. You will feel rejuvenated and more like your true self. That vibrant true self. Use this simple exercise as a tool to get back into your body, to get real and to walk on anytime you need it.
2- Click here to listen to Neil Young's song Walk On as you slice organic red peppers for dinner, walk to your next appointment or get ready for your day. Feel yourself taking life as a dance partner as you go from task to task. Notice how a little music can brighten up the most mundane part of our days. Feel the cycle of life moving through you and just like you accept the seasons changing from summer, fall, winter to spring, find that same acceptance with change that some get strong, some get strange and sooner or later, it all gets real, walk on.
3- Come dance with me! If you're in New York City, I'm teaching 4 classes a week and your first class is FREE, drop-ins are $30 or you can purchase a $100 all you can dance Qoya pass good through December 8, 2010. Click here to see Qoya class dates and times. There are also 4 spots left for our Costa Rica Retreat December 11-18, 2010.
I look forward to dancing with you,
I invite you to shake right now. Notice how you feel. Notice the zing in your body.
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.
Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name? As we're getting to know one another, I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Rochelle Schieck. I live in New York. I believe that through movement we remember. We remember that we are inherently wise, wild and free. I encourage women through my Qoya classes, workshops, retreats, private sessions and this blog to move. The big picture vision is that the more women move and subsequently remember, the more they trust their inner wisdom, express their wildness and revel in their freedom. And like most spiritual or wisdom traditions teach, we collectively remember that all we seek is already within. It's just about creating a passageway to the deepest truest parts of ourselves.
One of the most pleasurable, exciting and confusing parts of the human experience is our sensuality. It's time to presence a modern embodiment of an empowered woman who oozes with self-love. Imagine it was simple. Love your body as it is now. Love how it feels to move in it. Love more. Criticize less. Let's practice and rock out a little along the way.
Question: When is the last time you felt sexy? In 5 minutes, you are going to say, 3 minutes ago.
To me, sensual movement means moving the way your female body wants to move. Sensual movement gives us permission to slow down and feel. 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. 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.
Movement: 3 simple things~
1) walk across the room sloooooowwwwwlllly and enjoy yourself as you walk
2) a couple hip circles to the right, a couple hip circles to the left
Intention: This is an opportunity to say, "Hello, I love you" to your body. Notice your inner dialogue as you move your body in a strong feminine and sensual manner. You know you're doing it right when you're enjoying it. Slow down and deepen your breath to tune more in to more physical sensation.
Music: Hello, I Love You by the Doors
Take it with you: Do this experiment in front of a mirror where you try 2 different approaches to looking sexy.
1st- TRY. Try to look sexy. Use extra effort and notice how it feels. (It usually feels somewhat ridiculous).
2nd- Slow down, be you, and focus on FEELING pleasure in your body as you soak in the sensation just for you, not for anyone else.
Did you get it? As I teach Qoya classes, I notice women can fall into a default of what they think is sexy, which can feel inauthentic. A woman who is enjoying herself will always shine. Get in the habit of enjoying simple things like the way you walk, make each hallway a catwalk, the elevator a stage to pivot turn on and see where else you can slow down, tune into your body and feel more sensation. And from that place, introduce yourself to the next person you see with a Jim Morrisonesque hello.