Follow by Email

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!


  1. Ohhhh, Kitty. Thank you for this description of Qoya and for validating the "ick" I feel when I think of rejoining a gym. If I lived closer than CA, I'd be right there, baby.
    SG Ti

  2. I too loath the gym and LOVE dance. Wish you were a little closer to FL :( I would so join you in your adventure. JL

  3. you are a BRILLIANT Qoya teacher. What a gift you are. Love, Fi xoxox