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Saturday, July 28, 2012

There Is Such A Thing As The Perfect Body

(An excerpt from the Seduction Is A Spiritual Practice Workbook)

Venus of Willendorf
One of the most undeniable virtues of a true Sacred Seductress is the way she loves her flesh. A Seductress loves every inch of her self: smooth skin, dimpled skin, parts that stick out, parts that just don't. It is all as beautiful as a sunrise to her. And because of the conviction in her self-love, the judgments one usually makes about a female body seem to slip away when they are in her presence. She is that powerful.

A Seductress does not wait around for the "perfect body" to arrive in order to feel and know her full sensual and erotic power. The things she is told she should be ashamed of (fat on her belly, her breast that is smaller than the other, her skin tone, etc.), she flaunts rather than hides like the diamonds that they are: rare, beautiful, and perfectly imperfect.

The way a woman feels about her body is a mirror image to what she believes about herself, her Divinity, and how she relates to the world. Body hatred is an epidemic amongst women. We live in a culture that teaches us to believe that she must meet an impossible list of qualifications in order to feel "beautiful". The tricky thing about this list of benchmarks however, is that there is not a woman alive who could even come close to meeting them all. For every woman who wishes her hips were smaller, there is a woman who wishes her hips were more round. For every woman who wishes her breasts were fuller, there is a woman wishing she could wear t-shirts without feeling self-conscious. It reminds me of the story "The Emperor's New Clothes". We are all striving so desperately to be perfect, sexy, beautiful, young; and yet it is this exact desperation to change what is already perfect that makes us all feel so downright ugly.

A Seductress transcends all of this by making the important distinction between true beauty, and the illusion of "learned beauty". Learned beauty is what we do when our sole purpose is to gain the approval of others. It is living by the message of what we have been taught beautiful means, rather than the beauty that we know is true in our soul. When we aim to achieve the beauty we have learned, we are dependent on external validation to convince us of our power and radiance. But a true Seductress knows with every fiber of her being that her beauty has nothing to do with her lip gloss. Her lip gloss can be a lovely expression of her beauty, but it is certainly not the source of it.

True beauty is eternal. It never leaves us. It does not change with our outfit or our hairstyle or our age. True beauty means that we need never pause in the mirror and ask ourselves "do I look beautiful right now?", because true beauty needs never be questioned. It is a simple feminine truth.

 The Fall session of Seduction Is A Spiritual Practice is happening on September 14th and 15th (Friday evening and Saturday day) Early Sign Up Savings ends Tuesday July 31st. 

I would LOVE to have you in class.

In honor of our true beauty, enjoy the love letter I wrote to my body called Adoration.

 "Adoration" by Gil Elvgren
 I adore My Body.

It is so scrumptious and delicious, I just want to gobble myself up.
 I love my legs. They are like the most elegant champagne flutes. I imagine that if they were a food, they would taste like lady fingers drizzled with chocolate and whipped cream.

I love my arms. I love the way they taper delicately at the wrist. I love their shape as I hold onto the subway rail. I love the way my muscles flex as I sway from side to side.

I love my breasts, they are like the ripest plum, hanging on a vine in Tuscany, warm from the sun.

I adore my hips. Their curves, the way I can grab the flesh on the bone. They give me a sense of home, like a crisp, brown Christmas turkey cooked with butter under the skin. Yum.

I love my Belly. I love the roundness of it. I love how authentically feminine it is. I love having it massaged in a warm bath with oil underwater.
I LOVE my shoulders, my clavicle, and my decollete. My clavicle is like an Olympic ice skater. Graceful, elegant. A perfect ten. My decollete; smooth like the frosting on top of a birthday cake. My shoulders, like marble pillars in the Sistine Chapel, holding everything together with strength, grace and beauty.
I love my hair. Like warm amber honey. Smooth, lustrous, sensuous.

I love my face. My eyes, like looking down an endless beach. My lips, like perfect velvet pillows you just want to sink into. My skin, like the creamy froth on top of a cappuccino.

I love being a woman.
I love being me.
In the words of Doris Day, "I enjoy being a girl".

 I would love to hear your own love notes to your own body in the comments below. Let's inspire each other into a fine romance with our succulent skin!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Just Start (How Qoya arrived at The School of Charm and Cheek)

"Just start" she said.

When Rochelle Schieck spoke these words to me three years ago, I was floating in a swimming pool while she sat on the edge looking down at me with her face full of it's usual mix of passion, love and enthusiasm.  Rochelle is the founder of Qoya, (more about that below) and she had just returned from Costa Rica where she led her very first Qoya retreat. Rochelle is my dear friend and great inspiration. Seeing her achieve this dream made me so proud of her, so inspired by her, and positively green with envy.  I had asked her "Ro, how did you do it?" She replied "just start".

When Rochelle felt the calling to create Qoya, she did the thing I have seen her do best when she needs to make a life change. That thing is travel. She went to California, Brazil, Hawaii, Peru. She said that during this time she prayed, she meditated, she asked for clarity on what this thing was that she felt so compelled to create. She told me "At a certain point I realized, you just have to start. I could see the grand vision of where I wanted to end up, but I didn't know how to start there, so I just started where I was. Just start."

Dancing Qoya in Costa Rica
At the time I was teaching one burlesque class. I don't even think I had a website. This conversation changed everything for me. It gave me the perspective that what I have to offer may not be as good as what I'll be offering 5 years from now, but how will I get to 5 years from now unless I start now? I took her advice. I started, and over the last three years I have created The School of Charm and Cheek, and seen so many of my dreams realized. 

One of these dreams has been to offer a movement/exercise class that addresses a woman's need for pleasure, fun, sensuality, spirituality and community first and foremost. (As it should always be with everything, in my opinion.) The exercise benefits are just the icing on the cake. I am incredibly proud to say that my dream has been realized, as I myself have just returned from Costa Rica as an officially trained Qoya teacher.

To say Qoya is a movement class is like saying the ocean is made up of a few raindrops. True, but not the whole story. Qoya is a spiritual temple, a shamanic journey and the dance party you have always dreamed of.  It is communing with the very throb and heartbeat of life through your very own skin and bones. You know the feeling you get when you see a gorgeous garnet sunset? Or hear a baby's giggle? Or see a three-legged dog wagging it's tail? Or witness a rainstorm in the jungle?  These are the moments when we remember.  We remember that life is magic and mysterious and we feel humbled to be a part of it. Qoya is a form of exercise, but at it's essence, Qoya is a way of accessing this sacred remembrance any time we want it. Through movement we remember that we are all wise, wild and free.

My whole life I tried to exercise like a good girl. I did aerobics, took runs in the park, yoga, endured torturous, sleep deprived mornings at the gym where I would run full-pelt towards myself in a mirrored wall in front of the treadmill.  But the truth was, all I really wanted to do was run as far away from myself as I possibly could. Exercise, to me, was little more than atonement. A way of trying to right the wrongs of this feminine body that was always too fat, too pale, just...not right. Most of what I wanted to change about my body were things that exercise itself could never change.  And yet, it always seemed like the perfection that I so longed for lay just beyond the next horizon. Or in this case, the next set of Pilates tapes I could order off of a TV infomercial.

When I started dancing Qoya with Rochelle, it took alot of re-wiring to understand what she meant when she would say "if it feels good, you're doing it right".  After all, my whole life I thought that doing exercise right meant you needed to feel pain.  "Feel the burn, no pain - no gain, it might not be very fun now, but think of how you'll feel after!"  Jeez. It's no wonder I still feel PTSD at the sight of a set of free-weights.

In Qoya, we draw from the wisdom of yoga, the sweet, wild abandon of dance, and the freedom of sensual movement. Class always begins with a slow, soothing warm up. The message "if it feels good you are doing it right" is repeated over and over. There is no competition, no way of doing this wrong. Class then transitions into a sensual, hypnotic way of doing yoga that feels like a moving prayer. This is followed by dancing, both choreographed and free dance. But this is not just any dancing. When you dance Qoya you dance your whole life. You dance your deepest truth. It is impossible to explain in words. It is like trying to explain swimming in the ocean - something you can't really understand until you experience it yourself.

All of this is done to a soundtrack that takes you from India to the Lower East Side, up to the heights of Heaven and back down to the dance floor of Soul Train. The music is a collection of everything, because Qoya is a collection of everything. It is an hour where there is no such thing as the right way, except the way of your own body and soul.

My First Qoya Class!
Beginning July 10th I will be teaching Qoya classes Tuesday nights from 7-8pm at The Yoga Collective.  As my gift to you, to introduce you to this beautiful new baby girl, for the month of July these classes being are offered by donation.  Pay what you can.  Or pay nothing.  I just want you to get in, get a taste and roll around in Qoya. If you've never done Qoya before or you are a crowned Qoya Queen, whether you hate exercise or you love it, if you just want a way to sweat and stretch that is fun and leaves you feeling happy, I invite you to come dance with me this Summer.  Let's get wise. Let's get wild.  Let's be free!