Graduate of NYU. Dancer for 22 years. Mostly Hip Hop and Funk styles (Popping, Locking, Break Dance, House, Waacking, Hip Hop). Developed two styles of dance, Liquid and torsion. Trained in Aikido and Kung Fu for many years. Practicing Qigong, massage and acupressure for nearly 2 decades. Certified Yoga teacher for 10 years. Yoga practitioner for 24 years. Reiki certified. Author of Qiyoda: Qigong Yoga Dance.
I have been a dancer for most of my life. If my soul was to be described as anything, it would be as a dancer. To me it is one of the most fun and incredible practices or exercise I have ever experienced. As a practice it demands perfection of the body much like that of the martial arts. As an exercise it is uplifting, addictive and cultivates mastery. It also increases creativity and intuition. All I have ever wanted is to be able to dance for the rest of my life and this drive has led me on an incredible and strange journey to master dance. But in order to master anything, I realized that the body needs to be perfected as well. I also learned that this could become an amazing journey of discovery all of its own. It was from this journey that Qiyoda came to be.
My love for dance has lasted longer than my career but I took a strange path. I might not have come this far if I hadn’t met some amazing teachers that guided me to discover the things, I needed know in order to continue on this path. Unfortunately, I was not born with a dancer’s body. Tall, thin and naturally flexible and naturally aligned. I was plagued with injuries because I had poor form and was very inflexible. It was the martial arts that taught me how to move the body with efficiency and how it moves naturally within proper form. And when moving in this way there should be no unnecessary strain placed on the body.
I have always been drawn to the martial arts, spiritual philosophies and practices. Martial artists have been able to combine self-mastery with the mastery of the mind, body and spiritual mastery. There was a time that I thought to myself that I wanted to meld dance with the martial arts and create a kind of martial arts without the martial. Where the practitioner could gain the same benefits a martial master could without the violent aspects.
At the time it was just a thought. Then while I was living in the mountains I met an Aikido master, Kenshi Kariyama, who was also in a way a travelling Buddhist monk who loved the Lotus Sutra. He was also a master of Shiatsu and acupressure, who could see energy. His whole life was dedicated to healing people and working towards his and others enlightenment. Being that we were into the same things and I could learn so much from him we quickly became very good friends. We chanted and practiced martial arts together often. It was practicing with him that I was able to see the connection of martial arts movement with a dance style I had practiced before. Then I began to see the possibility of melding the two. But even then, I didn’t really get serious about it. That came later.
The strange thing is that even though I hung out with Kenshi and learned a great deal from him, he never taught me about Chi. I actually discovered how to feel and move Chi on my own. When I realized what I was doing, I practiced for 5 hours a day or more for nearly eight months. I made incredible progress and thought I would heal myself and get that dancers body in no time. Not so much the case, but this was just the beginning of my journey that brought me to realize and understand all of what I have written about in Qiyoda and have nearly reached perfection of alignment, flexibility and able to maintain it while in motion.
The journey of healing one’s self and working towards mastery is an incredible journey of self discovery everyone should take. By healing I mean, what it takes to realign the body and perfect its movements and create happiness and well-being in your life. This may be injuries past and present, emotional and mental stuff. We all have our own path to take, a teacher is merely a guide pointing the way and a source of inspiration. It is through our own practice to master our selves and our lives in the pursuit of health and happiness that we learn the most. We learn about who we truly are as a person and our potential as humans. Human potential meaning that we are spiritual beings that are connected by an underlying energy that cannot be measured by machines only experienced by us as people. And once we can get in touch with that spirit, it is our doorway to the realms of mind and spirit.
In that time of practicing Chi on my own, exploring and experimenting with it, I came to understand the mind and its relationship to Chi and my body. I also came to understand how the body likes to be healed. I also learned that not every issue can be healed with the same approach. Energy can be an extremely powerful tool to affect healing and well-being in the body. But I also realized that even though I connect to the body and move the energy, things still needed to be worked out on the physical. This is when I started to use massage like I learned from Kenshi and could understand the techniques he used. I also utilized Yoga and movement.
You see I am a very impatient person; I want to have a perfect body now because I know how many amazing things, I can do with it. So, when I work on my body, I use many techniques and sometimes a few of them at once. While on this journey I realized the similarities between Qigong and Yoga. Qigong is a practice that is purely the cultivation of Chi, there should be no movement of the body involved. Something that Yoga (modern westernized Yoga) seems to be missing. The Yoga term for spiritual energy is Prana. From what I had learned from practicing Chi, it was easy to incorporate it into massage and Yoga and expedite my progress towards perfecting my body. As for incorporating it into dance, once you understand how Chi cultivation works through movement, then you can see how dance IS already a Qigong exercise.
My philosophy is that the more I practice the faster I get there. When I have time, like a month to a few months, I will practice and train 6-8 hours a day or more. Now this is not necessary to gain great progress. I can actually be very lazy and not practice for months so for me it’s catching up. Or when I start making progress, the practice gets so good I don’t want to stop.
It took nine years to write Qiyoda. It wasn’t until the last year that I was able to really start to develop “torsion” and Qiyoda started to blossom into what it is today. This is the culmination of 15 years of study, research, exploration, experimentation and thousands of hours of practice. And this is what I want to share with people the most. That so much can be learned, discovered and understood from a person’s own practice. It is an amazing journey of self-discovery and a discovery of the intimate relationship that we can all have with life and spirit.
Thank you for reading,