Friday, August 11, 2017

Discover the increasing popular practice of Qigong by Lorraine Glowczak


Raymond Hill Community Center (RHCC) located at 7 Raymond Hill Road recently began offering weekly Qigong lessons on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. The first class began on Saturday, July 15 with plans to continue the practice into the fall. 
 
The classes are taught by Karen Rendall, an instructor from the Maine Center for Taijiquan and Qigong, and they provide an opportunity for the community to experience the relaxation advantages and explore the many reported benefits of the ancient Chinese healthcare practice. Everyone, no matter the level of experience, is invited to participate. The cost is $5 per class. Registrations are not required as walk-ins are welcomed.
Qigong practitioners move in a meditative, calming movement

Pronounced “Chee Gong”, the meditative movement practice is an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions. Often associated with its cousin, Tai Chi (also written Taijiquan), the awareness of Qigong in Western culture began in the 1950’s and has been reported to be approximately 2,500 years. However, archaeologists and historians have discovered qigong-like techniques that are at least five thousand years old.

Qigong has slowly become more popular in recent years. According to the Maine Center for Taijiquan and Qigong website, “Taiji & Qigong practice is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Part of the resurgence in popularity of this fabulous art can be attributed to increased cultural exchange, divergence from traditional teaching methods, evolved scientific understanding of efficacy of methods and growing demand for low cost holistic wellness modalities.”

Many participate in the practice of Qigong due to the reported benefits.

“I was motivated to create it [the Qigong class] as a result of the ‘Healthy Aging Initiative’ happening here in Raymond,” explained Mary-Therese Duffy, one of the founding members of RHCC. “The research and recommendations regarding Qigong practice and aging is striking.”

Multiple scholarly articles can be found that verifies Duffy’s assertion, including scientific studies from Harvard Medical Center and Yale Medical School. 

According to the Journal of International Society of Life Information Sciences, the positive effect that Qigong practice has on the aging process should not be ignored. “These results show that qigong exercise decrease by about 50 percent the incidence of tota1 mortality, mortality due to stroke, and morbidity due to stroke. At the end of 30 years, 86 patients survived in the qigong group and 68 in the control group, these results clearly show that qigong has significant potential for preventing strokes and extending life.”

Popular magazines have also published articles regarding Qigong, including a Newsweek article published in September 27, 2004 entitled, “The New Science of Mind and Body.” In that and other magazine articles, the additional benefits of practicing Qigong include but are not limited to stress relief, improving asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and headaches.

Those who attend the Saturday classes at RHCC include those who have been practicing Qigong for many years as well as those who are experiencing it for the first time. Participants who have made the practice a part of their daily life claim to experience certain benefits.

Charlotte Engelman and Scott Sutton
Scott Sutton from Raymond stated that his practice creates a level of wellness in his life. “Qigong is taking time to connect my body and spirit to experience greater wellness, peace and joy in the moment,” he said.

Charlotte Engelman, also from Raymond, who has enjoyed the practice of Qigong off and on for 20 years states that it helps her face daily life more calmly. “The centering aspect blocks out the craziness of life and gives me a calm feeling for the day,” Engelman began. “And when I go out into the world, I feel I have more strength and stamina to face whatever comes my way.”

“My practice keeps me mentally grounded, improves my quality of sleep, and keeps me feeling physically strong and balanced,” stated Rendall who has been practicing since 2002 and began teaching in 2011.

For those who are experiencing Qigong for the first time or our new at the practice of Qigong, Rendall calms any apprehensions one might have. “It's challenging to walk into a room full of strangers and participate in something that you might not know much about,” began Rendall. “Every Qigong instructor I have learned from has worked hard to make participants feel comfortable, they have encouraged people to move with respect to their own comfort levels, and to have an enjoyable experience. I encourage everyone who asks me about Tai Chi and Qigong to visit a class to try it out. 

In a basic or beginner class, the moves tend to be simple and are practiced with a slow meditative quality - often people leave class and feel more relaxed.”  

For more information about Qigong (and/or Taiji), contact the Maine Center for Taijiquan and Qigong at www.mainetaiji.com or call 207 780-9581.

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