Healthy Options: Qigong for health and wellness
Special to The Union
Raised in Arizona where he learned the culture and practices of Native Americans living in the area, Homer Nottingham is no stranger to the healing arts. However, he spent 40 years working in the stressful environment of corporate America before he discovered Qigong, quite accidentally, during a trip to Hong Kong in 1985. At the time he was a division vice president for American Express, living in Los Angeles, and caught up in the fast-paced life of a corporate executive. During the trip he noticed that at 6 a.m., every park was filled with people doing Qigong.
Intrigued by what he saw, Nottingham gave it a try, and soon felt much better and more alive than ever before. As a result of this experience, he started learning and practicing Qigong and experiencing the many benefits. When he retired in 2001, Nottingham started teaching it to others. For the past 12 years, he has been offering Qigong and Tai Chi classes in our local area.
In this week’s Healthy Options, we share a short interview with Homer Nottingham, Qigong teacher and owner of the Vital Energy Arts Center.
What exactly is Qigong?
Developed thousands of years ago and practiced in ancient Chinese monasteries, medical clinics, and by imperial armies, Qigong is a very effective yet simple way to increase vitality, health, wellness, inner peace, and healing. Qi means energy and is your edge in relationship, sports, healing or personal performance in life. Gong means practice or work. Basically, Qigong consists of a few minutes of gentle breathing combined with movement. The idea is to help relax the mind and mobilize the body’s energy whether you’re standing, sitting, or lying down. Qigong is practiced by people of all ages and abilities, and it has recently come into widespread use for achieving optimal health and wellness.
What are some of the benefits of Qigong, and how has it changed people’s lives?
Let a couple of my students answer that question. Rosemarie Reeder, who attends five classes a week wrote, “After four or five classes, my body was feeling much better and I felt calm. The classes help with anxiety, arthritis symptoms, back tension, and balance. I’ve completed one year and I am pain free.” Wendy Mattson, another student, says, “I have been taking Tai Chi and Qigong for several months now and the classes have enhanced my life and made it better. My outlook on life has become more positive, my stress levels have decreased, my energy level has increased, and my blood work has improved.”
I understand Harvard Medical School has studied Qigong/Tai Chi. What are some of their findings?
You can read a lot about research into Qigong/Tai Chi in the book, Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi by Peter M. Wayne, PhD. The book lists many reasons why all of the fellows in the Harvard Medical School Research Training Program in Complementary and Integrative Medicine are exposed to Tai Chi and Qigong. The most basic is that it can prevent or ease many ills of aging and can treat or prevent many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in good shape or in the best of health. According to Dr. Wayne, by practicing any style of Qigong for 12 weeks, you can have a healthy body, strong heart, and sharp mind.
What is the significance of “Worldwide Tai Chi and Qigong Day on April 25?”
On April 25 in every town and country around the globe, people will be doing Tai Chi/Qigong to support the world in coming together. The motto of the day is “One world … one breath.” In our area, several local instructors will be doing their form of Tai Chi/Qigong from 9 a.m.-noon at Club Sierra in Grass Valley. You may watch or join the exercises for as long as you wish. The day is sponsored by The Gold Country Kiwanis. All donations go to children’s programs in our local area.
What is the best way to learn? How can I find a Qigong class or teacher?
Many of the gyms in our area have Qigong classes and teachers. Some gyms and instructors will let people attend the first class at no charge. There’s a schedule of my classes at http://www.homernottingham.com or folks can phone me at 530-265-4588 and I will be happy to answer any questions.
Jan Fishler is a local author and writing coach. She has recently published, Flex Your Writing Muscle: 365 Writing Prompts, available on Amazon in both kindle and paperback. For more about Jan, go to http://www.janfishler.com.
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