Qoya: Recovering the Queen
A few years ago, when I severely needed healing and empowerment, I searched “dance healing” online. At the time, I was just getting into swing-dancing. I was also learning about various healing practices. I wanted to see if there was a practice that combined the two. As it turns out, there was. The Qoya website was one of the first options to come up in my search. I found a class in my city and joined that very day. The beautiful depth of the experience stood out to me so much, I signed up for teacher training on the spot.
Qoya means Queen--not a distant ruler on a throne, but a manifestation of higher feminine consciousness. In Qoya, we recover the Queen in ourselves—our right to be sovereign in our own lives. The picture below shows me reclaiming my crown at a Qoya retreat at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
In Qoya, we recognize that through movement, we remember our essence is wise, wild, and free. Wise, wild, and free draw reference to the different movement forms that we practice in each Qoya class: wise refers to the wisdom of yoga, wild to the creative expression of ecstatic dance, and free to the freedom of sensual movement, where we slow down, feel as much as we can, and give our movement as a gift to ourselves. The key thing to know about Qoya is that you cannot do it wrong, and the way you know you’re doing it right is if it feels good, honest, true.
This is how I introduce each Qoya class that I lead. After this introduction, I’ll jump into the theme for the day’s class, a topic usually uncovered after deep reflection into my own life. With the commonalities of our experiences, what is salient and meaningful for me at any given moment can often find its reflection or embodiment in the lives of others in the class. We can all approach the theme from different angles, color it with our unique self-expression, and take from the class what we need that day.
After sharing the theme, we’ll begin the special mix of movement and truth-telling that comprises every class. The movement is there to get us out of our heads and into our bodies, out of analyzing, thinking, and worrying with the mind to intuitively knowing with the heart. The truth-telling is there to deepen our connections to community and to recognize the sacredness and wholeness of our experiences.
Qoya is so much more than simply a movement practice that I facilitate, a class that I attend. It is a way of life, and it is one of the most life-changing experiences/philosophies I’ve come across.
Come as you are.
I don’t know about you, but I often feel an unstated expectation when I go to a standard yoga or fitness class. I have to be cheerful. I have to be positive and bubbly. In the case of yoga, it helps if I exude a serene sense of peaceful competence and wisdom that overflows from my lithe, fashionable-and-expensive-legging-covered body. That way I really fit in with the class.
In Qoya, you come as you are, bring whatever is going on for you. This is a place to dance with your experiences, to be real, to really explore wherever you are in life. If that means skipping the entire yoga portion of class to rest in child’s pose and surrender to the exhaustion wracking your over-worked, over-stimulated mind, then go for it. If that means ignoring what the instructor is saying, taking the movements extra slow, and deeply turning inward to feel into repressed sorrow or heartache, then do it. You’re not doing it wrong. You can’t do it wrong.
As an instructor, I feel a sincere pleasure in seeing the women in my class ignore my cues and do their own thing, the thing that is right for them in that moment.
Leave as more of who you are.
Through the dancing and the community, we shake off the fears, doubts, confusions, and stresses that place a stranglehold on our authentic selves. We leave with more courage, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and a sense of our own wholeness.
We move from worrying about how it looks, to focusing on how it feels.
With such a mindset, I’ve developed my intuition and my ability to feel my way into what is true for me. More than that, I have permission now to trust myself. This trust guides me toward creating a life that is uniquely mine, fully lived, and filled with wonder.
Overall, my life is more colorful. I don’t pretend anymore. I don’t put up with bullshit. I am myself. These are the gifts of Qoya, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this practice and this community.
For more information about Qoya, free movement videos and exercises, and news about classes and retreats, check out the Qoya website here.