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Anne Whitaker, Dora Voudris, Bonnie Oda, Bonnie Ramsby and Faye Choo practice Qigong movements at the Senior Center (photo by Aaron Zaremsky)

Qigong in Yellow Springs

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“Qigong” encompasses numerous meanings in a single word. It represents the various Ancient Chinese methods of physical and mental exercise, martial arts and even self-enlightenment on top of all that. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use it to cure diseases, Buddhist monks in China use it as a meditation practice, and many people in the Modern West now practice it as alternative medicine.

There are four types of Qigong training: dynamic, static, meditative and activities utilizing external agents. Dynamic Qigong is perhaps the most recognizable, as it involves the slow, methodical movements that we usually associate with martial arts such as Tai Chi (Fun fact, Qigong is actually the precursor to Tai Chi). Static involves holding a posture for a certain amount of time. Meditative Qigong’s goal is to quiet the mind and look within, and the last type utilizes items such as food or drink to help facilitate the flow of “Qi”, which is Mandarin for air, breath and gas. Many Asian schools of thought believe Qi to be the energy that flows within us, a parallel to the Western concept of a soul.

The history and variances of practice are complicated indeed, but the movements are quite simple. The exercises consist of no more than subtle dips in the knees and slow yet graceful flourishing of the arms. The Senior Center hosts regular Qigong sessions in their back room, usually in the early afternoon/late morning. Look them up in the paper and try a session. I found myself quite relaxed just listening to the flute music on the DVD of Wing Cheung, a favorite instructor amongst the Center.

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