how Qoya & I met

women of Qoya

women of Qoya

When I stumble upon something that I feel in my bones is essential to my core, like a mermaid I dive straight in, right towards the bottom. And there i linger.

Qoya is one of these things. 

Let me tell you the story of how Qoya and I met.

The year was 2009. The month, January. Around that time, I could be found in one of 3 places: in my apartment, at Bobst library, or in class. I occasionally took a Bikram class, but I had ceased teaching altogether. When I got in to my first-choice school, I danced around the entire city without fully realizing that I had just married Grad School. Straight-up 2 and a half year commitment. We’re now divorced, thank god, but at the time, we were definitely trying to make it work.

I eventually graduated and got my master’s in Museum Studies. I thought it classy to cross the finish line before fully and truly walking away from that field. But on the month of January in 2009, I didn’t know that yet, and so I toiled away, hour after hour, reading and writing incessantly. No matter how much I spent studying, it never felt like I’d done quite enough. I can see myself now: buried under books and articles, staring into my laptop, piecing together coherent thoughts. Late into the night. Until…

One day, as I was checking email, I found one from Rochelle Schieck waiting for me. It was an invitation to what she then called Inspired Movement, and it was a 4-week Sunday class. I knew it, almost immediately, that I had to say yes. It wasn’t a loud, exuberant “YES!” like the ones I shout out loud these days. It was a shy yes, a “why not, what can i lose?”  yes.

I showed up to the first class, and I was amongst one of the first few to arrive. Rochelle greeted me with a rose. As I was changing in the locker room, I heard more women arriving. The energy in the space immediately charged up. I could hear them praising each other, laughing, just simply thrilled to see one another. I eyed suspiciously in their direction. Where was I? What had I just stumbled into?

For many years, you see, I held it to be true that other women were not to be trusted. Thus, I surrounded myself with a lot of “guy friends,” often proud to be one of the “guys”. I could kick it back with the guys, not be in any drama or what have you. I don’t believe I had a single girl friend at the time. Yikes, yeah, I know. 

So when I heard these women genuinely happy to be amongst each other, I found myself in a completely different dimension. I had never witnessed this till now.

We did the class, it was great. It felt so good to move my body; my poor body, which had taken on a toll with the new lifestyle.

Inspired Movement soonafter became Qoya. It opened the door to a whole new way of living. All those loving women pointed me in the direction of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, which I enrolled in about a month after my first Qoya class. Insanity! As I was still committed to a full-time school schedule. 

Anyhow, the doors that have opened since then, the places I’ve been to and the radical way in which I changed and now live my life can all be traced back to that moment when I said yes to showing up to this class. 

Since my first Qoya class, I have not looked back.

For more on Qoya: loveqoya.com



My name is Mishel Ixchel. I’m Ecuadorian-born &
NYC-bred. Western Mass is currently home, and it's also where I practice + teach the art of
Sacred Self Care.