Wise, Wild and Free with Qoya Founder Rochelle Schieck
In the podcast:
01:43 Dawn of Qoya: The more sacred pulse of life
03:10 The Qoya of Peru
04:52 Leading the individual back to inner connection
05:55 Losing our heart’s value
06:32 When you follow your heart, the world conspires on your behalf
07:18 Taking a courageous leap, even when people say “You shouldn’t”
08:22 Gratitude as a practice
08:49 A powerful moment in Rochelle’s life
10:27 Bringing yourself into alignment with divine order with gratitude
12:43 Knowing our spirit through the feminine
13:50 Channeling the essence of a dream by shifting energy
15:50 Mastery of the mind through your heart
17:24 Congruence and trust
19:14 Flowing with synchronicity and a stronger intuition
20:43 Opening towards potential
21:40 Moving the body with Qoya
23:44 The free form movement
24:48 Expressing our essence through the body
27:23 Creating space to widen our circle of compassion
28:37 Rochelle’s visit to Australia
29:02 Where to find Rochelle
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Mark: Hi, everyone. This is Mark from YogaCoach. Today, we are talking to Rochelle Schieck. I met Rochelle a few years ago in Australia on the Yoga Circuit and she’s awesome. She’s got a great, big spirit and heart and I’m really looking forward to chatting to her today.
Rochelle is the founder of Qoya, and Qoya is a combination of yoga, dance, and movement with awareness primarily for women, and the message of that is that through movement, we remember our essence or in other words, our soul in yoga – what we call Atma.
Rochelle has been featured on www.Oprah.com, New York Magazine, and Australian Yoga Life amongst a few. So welcome, Rochelle. Where are you at the moment and what are you up to?
Rochelle: Thank you so much Mark, for having me.
Rochelle: And I’m in Venice, California, which is where I live now – in Los Angeles and enjoying a beautiful, sunny afternoon.
Mark: Don’t all the weird, creative people live in Venice?
Rochelle: Exactly! It’s where all the creatives, the artists… but it’s also interesting. There’s definitely a lot of spiritual seeking and spiritual finding happening in Venice as well -it’s just a really inspiring group of people that live here. I really love this as my home base.
Mark: Yeah. It’s certainly on my bucket list to go to Venice one day. It looks like a very interesting place to be, and to come and visit you.
Rochelle: Exactly, and I would love to have you, and I know Venice would welcome you.
Mark: Rochelle, tell me about Qoya and how did you come to that name?
Rochelle: Great. Well, Qoya is based on a very simple idea and ideas that through movement, we remember; that through movement, we remember essence is wise, wild, and free. Wise, wild, and free also draw a reference to the movement forms that we practice in Qoya, so wise – (count?) on the wisdom traditions of yoga, wild – the creative expression and authentic movement that can come through dance, and free – expanding our capacity to really enjoy being in our body through conscious movement. It’s also based on the idea that we start to remember those things that you can never really put into words, so when you see a sunset, or for you, when you catch an amazing wave, when you get caught up in the contagious laughter of a child, or you feel the fulfillment of doing your soul work in the world, or you feel the warmth of your lover’s body in bed, or you have a conversation with a dear friend and at the end of it, you really feel like everything’s going to be okay – those moments that go past just going through the motions, but bring incredible meaning. Qoya is based on the idea that through movement and movement with meaning, they can use the body as a portal to access and experience the more sacred pulse of life, and how I came up with the name is… I actually started the class and was calling it Inspired Movement, and I knew that wasn’t the right name, but it was just something. I just needed to start it and call it something, and as it got more clear that I thought this might be something I was going to be doing for a very long time, I went to Peru on a pilgrimage to get clarity around this work and then also looking for a name and I ended up being on a tour, and the tour guide said, “Oh and this is where the Qoya would be.” And I was in these ancient ruins, and I asked “Who were the Qoya?” and he is like, well there were the Inca – they were the kings, and there are Qoya, which were the queens. I did some more research and found out that it wasn’t queen, like the jeweled, emotionally distant position of inherited power, but it was queen – as in the wise women, and that Qoya translated directly as a feminine manifestation of higher consciousness. So for me, it was a perfect name embodying that feminine quality, which I think is a lot of the healing, and the world right now is coming in and it’s not so much a gender of male-female, but this idea – we all have a masculine and feminine essence and the more harmony we can create inside ourselves and our relationships, and then bring it to the world. So that’s how I chose the name Qoya and something interesting in terms of yoga is that Quechuan is the language that Qoya is in, which is also vibrational language, like Sanskrit, so Qoya describes its essence just in that vibrational field that it creates when you say the name.
Mark: Well, I’m known for… I guess that makes you the queen bee then.
Rochelle: Yeah! Queen of Qoya.
Mark: Yeah. Queen of Qoya, and you talk about the secret in creating a sacred space, and this divine, feminine, more coming-into-the-world, or what we might call the Goddess energy – how do you think that’s going to change the way the world works, and the way that people interact, and how we shaped our consciousness into the future?
Rochelle: Well I think it’s mainly when I contemplate the feminine and what that means to me, and if I were to distill and make it very simple, the word that comes to me is inner connection, which is what a lot of our mystical or religious, spiritual traditions also bring us back to is that we are all one. So this idea of the focus on the individual, which is beautiful in a lot of ways, but the shadow side tend to be more on the greed and the disconnect from really caring about others and love. And so, the rise of the feminine is just this self-responsibility to realize that everything that we do affects everyone else, and I think the more we can integrate that into our lives – an example would be when I think of making a decision, I think of myself an individual, but I also think of ‘what is the collective in making my decision?’ I’m part of that, or Native American traditions – when they say making a decision and imagining it affecting the next seven generations. My hope is that I would see it in the way of love being the bottom line, instead of just money being the bottom line. I feel like… and especially for me. In America, so many of our systems became business and healthcare and the government… so many things have taken on this corporate model where the value of our heart isn’t seen as being valued. It’s really just money is the bottom line, and so I think this ability to come back into our hearts and back into inner connection would ripple out in just the way that we feel connected to ourselves, each other and life growing, and so the disconnected and the sort of artificial half.
Mark: The theme there – a lot was around connection and creating a unique connection, and I know in your earlier years, you felt disconnected from yourself and those around you – in essence, a bit lost, looking for answers. How did you come to turn that around?
Rochelle: Well, for me… you know, like a lot of things in life, there’s a lot of contributing factors, but I feel like I can really trace it back to when I was 18 years old and I read the book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
Mark: Good book.
Rochelle: Yeah, exactly and one of the main premises in the book is when you follow your heart, the world conspires on your behalf.
Rochelle: And I decided I would live my life as an experiment and I would see if that was true, and if it wasn’t true, I would reassess but I was going to make an honest go of it and really just follow the voice of my heart, even when it didn’t make linear sense, even though it didn’t make financial sense… even when people around me were saying “You know, you shouldn’t do this.” I want to become a yoga teacher, maybe like 12 years ago, when it wasn’t so popular yet, and everyone was like, “You shouldn’t. You know it’s just a fad. You shouldn’t do that.” And I just knew in my heart it was the right thing to do and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but the main way that I went from a place of being disconnected and to connected again was just taking that courageous leap over and over again to follow my heart, and I’m so glad. So, the experiment’s been going about 15, 16 years and so far, so good.
Mark: Yeah. I think it’s safe to say that the experiment worked.
Mark: And I think out of that experiment working and throwing it out there and trusting it and going for it, that a principle that’s really important for you that arose out of that is that gratitude in your life is a big part of that. Can you explain how you came to that principle and how you implement it in your life and your life and your work?
Rochelle: Yes. Well, the first time I was exposed to the idea of gratitude as a practice is when I was taking this Goddess course in New York City, which is basically looking at if you were to look at every aspect of your life – work, home, relationships, health, and what if you just looked at it from a feminine perspective? One of the assignments were asked to do was to write down a hundred gratitudes about our lives and to write down a hundred of them. So right after that course, I got a phone call that my grandmother was not well, and that even if I got on a plane right that moment, that I probably wouldn’t be able to make it, but I did get on the next plane I could and I went to go see her in the hospital, and everyone had stayed up with her through the night, and they were all exhausted. So they left and I stayed with her, and I just done this gratitude exercise, so she wasn’t conscious, but I climbed into the hospital bed with her and just started showering her with gratitude and I said “Thank you for making me cinnamon and sugar toast when I would come over as a kid. Thank you for taking me on that vacation to the Waterpark. Thank you for believing in me and coming to all of my dance perfomances. Thank you for being so funny and having such a strong backbone.” And I just showered her in gratitude, and then I got tired ‘cause I’ve flown a red eye and I fell asleep, and when I woke up, she had died in my arms.
Rochelle: And it was just this amazing experience and how complete I felt in that I had expressed my gratitude to her. I had been a hospice volunteer earlier in my life, so I knew that the hearing is the last thing to go, so I had a lot of faith that she had actually heard me and it was just the feeling that I had in this powerful moment of my life, which in many ways, of course it was sad, but it was one of the best moments in my life. I personally couldn’t imagine a better way that I would want to die than in my granddaughter’s arms, being showered in gratitude. And so, it was… that experience was so powerful for me and then, when I went to Peru on this pilgrimage and got the name Qoya, I also studied with the mountain shamans who believed when your body dies, it goes back to the earth from which it was born, your spirit goes up to the heavens, but all the wisdom you accumulated goes to the mountaintops. And so, we climbed these mountains as pilgrimage and asked questions at the top, then meditated and get answers, but part of the practice is on the way up, we do these two-hour gratitude ceremonies where you just say ‘thank you’ for two hours. And instead of climbing the mountain in a way, like where you’re focusing on getting to the top, and you’re asking like, “Please help me to the top” – no, you never do that. In this tradition, you just say ‘Thank you for getting me this far. Thank you for getting me this far.” The idea is that gratitude brings you into alignment with divine order in seeing the gift in everything as it is, which is the consciousness from which creation comes, that you don’t want to ask for things in this bitter disappointment of how things are, but when you find the gratitude, you come in the right relationship with life and that’s the most fertile ground to dream in. So from my personal experience of feeling that completeness and the joy of being able to express the gratitude, as well as this tradition and shamanism of 10,000 years as gratitude being the way in which you get yourself to a state which you want to create and that you would only want to create from a grateful heart – that overly affected me.
Mark: That’s a great story and it’s a fantastic reminder, because I’m creating a new platform myself, and it involves a lot of work. Now, I know it’s from my heart, but sometimes in the workload, I’m not trusting and I’m moaning and groaning, and I know if I trust a process, it will be fine. So it’s a great reminder to come back to gratitude and be thanking for where I am and where I’ve got to, rather than where I haven’t got to, so thank you a lot for reminding me about that. I think the other message there is the incredible wisdom, that the aboriginals our people have on the planet of shamans, the (utmost trained?) aboriginals, the American Indians who you’ve mentioned as well.
Mark: There’s a lot to learn from them, yeah?
Rochelle: Definitely. I feel so grateful for having access to those teachings and it’s interesting when it comes back to the feminine as well, because it’s in service to the feminine, but the feminine being Mother Earth. I found that a big part of the feminine as well is sometimes in other spiritual traditions and (paths?). It’s a lot about transcending this earthly plane and knowing our spirit that’s eternal and never dies, that there sometimes can be a disconnect from being here. And so this wisdom that a lot of these indigenous people hold is just the beautiful, beautiful, beautiful metaphors and sacredness that is right here and right now in this physical reality, and that by honoring and loving this world as it is and being a co-creator in it, that that’s also a sacred path and sort of… kind of turning away from the world to connect with what’s beyond it and for me, it just resonates more in my heart.
Mark: One of the most important practices in yoga is to wish all beings well and happy. You know, you have your own special version of this based around dreams. Can you share with the audience what it is, and how you do that practice?
Rochelle: It’s one thing that I love to take some of my people in Qoya through is this experience where they think of a dream that they have, like just really in the center of their heart. The thing that they yearn for, that they would wish and desire for and then what I do is to ask them to write down or do a ritual or a ceremony where they wish that essence of that dream for other people, so an example would be if someone wants a partner, and they want that connection and ability to share their life with a beloved, that they would take time and think of other people and then wish that for them, and really pray and whether it’s like taking seashells and throwing them into the ocean for each person or putting rose petals out or writing their names down on a piece of paper, but this idea that taking all of that energy and really, really praying for someone else, and then just noticing how that feels. It’s a great way to move and honor the desire that we have inside of ourselves, but then also the honoring of the collective and that we’re all in this together, and to really pray for someone else.
Mark: Yeah, like it’s kind of a cool way of paying it forward, but with dreams.
Rochelle: Exactly, and the thing for me is also just to notice how things feel, and the wisdom in the body, and I think the main thing when it comes to manifesting is that a lot of people don’t always enjoy the process of dreaming. They just can’t help get out of the fact that they don’t feel good, that it’s not here now, and so, this is kind of a sweet way to shift the energy where they can still be honoring of their dream, but it’s so much fun and it feels so good to wish for someone else to experience an amazing thing in life that you would wish for yourself. It’s just… allows you to be in a dream in a way that still feels good in your heart.
Mark: Yes, and the definition of yoga is to have mastery of your mind and the whole point of having that is we say that yoga was designed to meditation, the mastery of the mind, but the purpose to that is to love Atma or love your soul and when you do this, you begin to live from your heart and you align your life choices from this place. It’s a powerful way to live and I really see that power in you, but how easy is it to trust your heart to move out of your head and move into the heart and live from there?
Rochelle: Mmm. Thank you, Mark. I see that in you too.
Mark: Thank you.
Rochelle: Well, it’s interesting. A couple of things come to mind because there’s that beautiful quote by a (nice man?) where it became too painful to say contracted and you had to open up – I’m just paraphrasing, but it’s… basically, it’s this idea, like how difficult is it to not live from your heart? I think from (when itself?) is what happened, and for others, I noticed as well. It just gets to that point where the only thing harder than living from your heart is not living from your heart. It just ends that being impossible to have such a disconnect between what you feel and what you do and one of my favorite quotes that I think of a lot is Gandhi’s quote where happiness is when what you think is what you say, is what you do, is what you feel, and sometimes in a modern, sort of going-to-the-motions, trying to survive and make a living, and being overstimulated by all these things in life, a lot of people feel this disconnect where they are thinking one thing, feeling a second, doing a third and being pulled in all these different directions. So for me, living in my heart is just coming into this congruence which I’m so grateful for my yoga practice, in Qoya and all the things that help contribute to it, but having the space to keep my body healthy so that my mind can be clear, keeping my mind clear, so my heart can open, keeping my heart open so I can really listen to that inner voice of my soul and spirit and I think once you get on that path, it feels so good that you can never really go back, but it’s difficult and that’s where their gratitude practice comes in as well though, because it’s this ability if you can really come into a deep, deep, deep sense of trust, then you start to look for the gift in everything, so even if some retreat that I do isn’t a huge financial success, I can look for what is the gift and I’m like “well the gift is… wow” that was one of the deepest processes I personally ever went through as a teacher and I know this person said she had an amazing, life-changing decision and start to see the benefits and the gifts instead of just looking at a place where it did not work out. So for me, trusting and living from a place in my heart is really trusting even when it’s not the way that I think that it should be, or it’s not the way that I was expecting. It’s like, can I trust and say thank you even here. And the more I surrender, the more I’m guided and the more I stopped trying to force things in the world to happen and I just listen to the heart, the more miracles happen. Basically, here is what I found so far: it’s I can’t always see the path, but I can feel the next step and so I just keep doing my practices in being in nature and meditation, yoga, Qoya, being in a community, eating healthy food to keep my vessel open, so that when the messages come through, I can hear them and then just keep following it. I almost like dancing with the mystery now more than the idea of thinking that I know what’s going to happen.
Mark: Yes and there’s lots of studies – conclusive studies that people are most happy when they are doing something that is meaningful and purposeful in their life, that is of service and benefit to others and from a yoga perspective in what we’re talking about with Qoya, that’s the whole practice: to remove all the obstacles to flow so we can live in our heart and then if you trust that, everything will be looked after. The abundance will be there…
Mark: The money will be in there, the people, the synchronicities will arise. In fact, internally, the intuition gets stronger and externally, everything comes along to support that – the synchronicities, it’s… and we can call those miracles, yet I think that we’re just following our divine plan of who we are and what we’re meant to be doing.
Rochelle: I agree. Synchronicity is definitely my soul food and one of the most rewarding aspects of following your intuition when… for me, it’s when all this magic happens, but the magic is really just the lifting of the veil of illusion that we’re ever separate and just for a moment in the synchronicity is you can see it’s tangible – how interconnected the events of our life are and then, it’s… most people think “Oh, this moment was like divine and synchronistic and a miracle”, and the thing is, I feel like the synchronistic moments or the moments when you can see it, but that’s actually how life is, but I always think when synchronicity comes, it’s like a little wink from the universe that I am aligned with my path and I love it every time.
Mark: Yeah. I always stress when I am teaching my students and my graduates – it’s not really just to teach them ABC or to teach them how to get flexible, but the main importance is to fall in love with your student’s potential and see them as Atma, see them as a field of pure potential and possibility and all we need to do is remove the obstacles or the interference to that, and you know, one way – we know we’re working onto more levels and one way is through the body. That’s where most people enter, and if you’ve got tight muscles and immobilized joints and contracted diaphragms, then that’s a restriction to flow in essence or a restriction to your soul, and this movement side of things with yoga, it’s kind of a structured way of moving to create openness, but you prefer a more free-form movement. How do you think they kind of work together and complement each other as far as getting the body to represent that inner flow?
Rochelle: Well, I love my yoga practice and I still practice yoga often and then in creating Qoya… again, it kind of comes back to – we could say this masculine, feminine or left brain right brain, so a lot of the ways that I’ve noticed that people are taught to move in their body are more left-brained or masculine, so it’s logical, rational, linear and goal-orientated, future-focused, predictability and so, when I was creating Qoya, I just thought it would be interesting to just explore the opposite of those qualities instead of being more linear. What if it was more circular? Instead of it being more about goal progression and getting somewhere in the future, what if it was about honoring this moment exactly as it is and the body exactly as it is right now? Instead of having it be more of an individual experience, having it be more of a collective experience, so there’s a lot of sharing – like I’ll put people in half-pigeon and hip stretch, and instead of just sitting there for two minutes, I’ll have them connect and share three things they are grateful for. Whatever the theme of classes that they… talk about a time when you followed your intuition and share with people, so it’s not just like going through it. And basically, I’ve found that instead of teaching people alignment, I’m trying to teach them their inner alignment of what is the physical sensation to trust yourself and trust that you know how to move your body so that it’s less about learning how to do a yoga pose that creates a form which creates a flow, but it’s like learning how to dance around a fire like our ancestors, or learning how to dance in your living room when you’re putting the laundry away and an amazing song comes on, or learning how to dance, you know? Like learning how to move your body in a way that is so innate, that is so just like… I mean, I love yoga. I’m so grateful. You know, I practiced two hours this morning, and at the same time, I think we have to be a little bit careful with the idea of practicing yoga, where it takes people away from thinking that they know how to move their bodies. And so, for me, the free form movement is giving people that weight become their own inner teacher, and teach from an internal sense of alignment. Ideally, the balance of the masculine and the feminine, left brain or right brain and the structure and the free form – I believe they all come together. So it’s not ‘one is better than the other’, it’s just most people develop the way their relationship to the body in a very linear way and this is just creating a space where they can explore with more the intuitive and expressive, and movement with meaning – like bringing meaning to what they are doing.
Mark: Yeah. Well, you know and I’ve been to your yoga classes before, and they’re really different and they are really fun and you are definitely getting to your own expression of movement, and I’ve seen you dancing on the beach in your wild, free way and it’s amazing. But for a lot of people, it scares the hell out of them to just go into free movement and just led half of them, whatever – let their hair down and go for it. Well, I already think that’s the case.
Rochelle: Well, the thing that comes to mind in this moment is just our world create an invitation and appreciation for our essence, and can we create more spaces where we get to tell the truth? Can we create more spaces where we can be honored and loved exactly for who we are and where we are? My desire for people when they come to Qoya is that the way that they can express themselves through their intellect and language that they could express themselves through their body and when I’m trying to teach people to dance, I used to… I had this fun thing I did for a while, which was teaching musicians who perform on stage who are nervous about dancing. Teaching them to dance, and so one thing that I found that was really helpful is imagine the music is inside of you, and your body is the speaker through which it comes out.
Mark: That’s cool.
Rochelle: Yeah, and when you’re dancing like that, imagine your essence is inside of you and your body is the way that they can come out. And it’s just… what is… we mentally have an idea of who we are, but what is the physical sensation of our essence? For me when I move, that’s what I feel, and when I dance, that’s what I’m dancing. For me, movement is prayer. It’s just this idea of what is the difference between our essence and this spirit of being a human being is that we’re in a body. I’m pretty sure that when I pass from this life, I’ll be able to have tons of experiences in my eternal soul and Atma, but only right now do I get to be in my body. So I want to feel it and I want to breathe into it and I want to dance with it and I want to express myself through it, and I want to be in this world as long as I’m here. So for me, I understand the inhibition, but it’s not just about dancing, the inhibition is about… is there space for you to be yourself in this world? And for me, it’s very metaphorical that as you move yourself freely, not only are you breaking past the worry of what people might think in movement, but it’s your creating space for yourself to do that in your life. It’s like people start moving freely in Qoya, and then all of a sudden, are like “I’m going to start my own business” or “I’m going to go on this trip and I’m going to take a six-month Sabbatical” and there just… as you have more freedom in your body, everything is connected. People start to experience more freedom in their life, and that’s really the point, you know? Yoga practice isn’t about yoga, it’s about your life; it’s about your soul. Same as Qoya – it’s not about free dance; it’s about being free.
Mark: Yes, and essentially, thinking less and trusting more and I like what Einstein says, we need to widen our circle of compassion, and I think the point he’s stressing there is that yeah, we think less and learn to care more and trust flow.
Rochelle: Definitely, and I feel like you have to create space to do that, so one of the main things I do is lead retreats. I lead about a retreat every month, and I tell people – because they have these really powerful experiences, and of course I’d love to take the credit for Qoya, but it’s really just creating conditions where you can feel and hear your inner voice. So that’s healthy, nutritious food, movement, meditation, being in nature, being an amazing community, and sort of getting out of the momentum of your daily life to just create space. Now, you don’t have to go on a retreat to do that. It might be taking a bath at home, or going for a walk on your lunch break, or catching a morning surf, but you have to know how to create conditions to enter into that flow state, and enter into your heart.
Mark: Yes, and I think that’s a great place to finish it off today, and it’s been wonderful speaking to you, Rochelle, and can’t wait to connect up with you again somewhere in the world, and as far as Australia, when are you going to come and visit us again?
Rochelle: I’m looking at coming in January of 2015, so it’s on my calendar. I love Australia, I’ve been a few times and definitely loved my last visit there. It’s so fun – loved the Byron Bay Spirit Festival and teaching in Sydney. I love it all, so I definitely… January is on the calendar.
Mark: And for our audience, how can they go and check you out more on about what you’re doing and your program, and how to connect into your work?
Rochelle: Great. My website is www.loveQoya.com and up there, there’s information about classes and how to find classes near you, but there’s also a bunch of free online videos if you want to do Qoya at home. There’s also Qoya kids videos, which are really fun if you have any little ones. There’s also a list of upcoming events and retreats, and like I said, I have a retreat just about every month, and a blog that I write on often and love to share what’s going on in my life, and what’s going in the Qoya community. So those are great ways to stay connected as well as Facebook, Instagram – all that jazz.
Mark: Thanks, Rochelle. I’ve got an appointment in about 10 minutes, but I’m going to go and put on some Black-Eyed Peas and I’m going to let my body be the speaker.
Rochelle: Oh, amazing Mark! I’m so happy to have the visual to imagine that. I’d love if you would take a video (crosstalk) (just matters?) now, so they can be inspired by your example.
Mark: Well, maybe. Maybe. I might have a few little steps to get to your freedom of movement, but I’m there – I’m on the journey.
Rochelle: Yes. Yeah, we all are.
Mark: So again, wonderful speaking to you. Take care. Lots of love, and we’ll hope to see you in Australia in January.
Rochelle: Great. Thank you so much, Mark and thanks for all that you do in the world. I know that you inspire many to reconnect with their soul and live lives of purpose, and it’s no small thing that you’re doing and I see you, and I’m grateful for you.
Mark: Thanks so much.
Rochelle: Alright. Bye.
Be Wise. go wild and get free