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What is Qigong? A Q&A with Ken Nelson

On Saturday morning, September 18, Yoga Neighborhood is hosting a very special event in Falmouth: Qigong for Wellness and Stress Reduction with Ken Nelson. Since not everyone is familiar with qigong, we asked Ken some questions about the practice and the event. To learn more about the event and about Ken, or to register, visit the events page on our website.

Yoga Neighborhood: What is qigong?

Ken Nelson:

Qigong, pronounced “chee gung,” means the skill (gong) of regulating life energy (qi) to improve health. It has been called “Chinese yoga,” and like yoga it is an ancient Eastern system of posture, exercise, breathing, and meditation.

YN: Is qigong the same as Tai chi?


Qigong and Tai chi are often used together in the same class because their goal is the same: better health, energy control, and relaxation. Both can be rigorous, or low impact, depending on how they are taught and the person's own fitness level. Often qigong is taught as an introductory course before one learns Tai chi, because qigong is simpler, easier to learn, and offers the basics of posture, breathing and relaxing movements.

Tai chi is a series of choreographed and dance-like movements that work on the entire body in a flowing sequence. Tai chi is colloquially known as "Shadowboxing," and is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for defense training, health benefits, and meditation. In some traditions, after an introduction of qigong, students may dedicate themselves to the more formal discipline of Tai chi, which requires learning more subtle and challenging sequences through repetition. In this session, I will break down short sections of the Tai chi sequences to illustrate how they may be used as qigong movements, or “energy exercises.”

YN: What are the benefits of the practice?


Qigong has physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits. The physical benefits include exercises to cultivate strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. It improves performance in sports and reduces injury as well as prevents falling in seniors, as well as improving longevity. Qigong regulates the nervous system which improves mood and emotional balance. The slow, deliberate movements while sensing body and breath, moment by moment, help to enhance concentration and attention training. One learns to live more holistically by integrating body, mind, and spirit. Other benefits include a deeper connection to, and appreciation of, the natural world. In addition, there is the therapeutic value of group support, and a for the individual a profound journey of self-discovery.

YN: I'm new to this--will I be able to keep up?


Everyone can join in this session because I have chosen easy-to-learn and enjoyable practices that are more gentle, accessible, and beginner-friendly.

YN: Can I still participate if I have physical limitations?


It is the perfect activity for people of all ages including seniors who are looking for a new way to incorporate exercise into their lifestyle. You can modify any of these practices to fit your own condition. I teach chair qigong to seniors, so if you wish to practice during this session in a chair, please bring a folding chair, and you can enjoy qigong and follow along by practicing while seated in a chair.

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Leanne Curran
Leanne Curran

Hi I'd love to try this session! Wondering if I need to bring a yoga matt or anything else? Thanks!

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