Workout of the Week: Qigong

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Qigong practices can be classified as martial, medical or spiritual and they’re unlike any other type of exercise.

“A lot of times when people think of fitness and wellness they think of sweating and moving quickly and lifting heavy weights,” says Morgan Paulson, “but taking a step back and working on breathing and poses and intention is very important.”

Paulson’s the Wellness Director at Wesley Acres in Des Moines. The community center added Qigong to the calendar last fall. Instructor Kevin Thoren says the practice has been shown to lower blood pressure and strengthen muscles through a holistic approach. “Traditional eastern medicine looks at the body as a whole. It doesn’t look at the heart separately, it looks at the whole system. With Qigong we’re bringing circulation and energy to those organs and channels.”

Everyone here has come seeking different benefits, but most were skeptical. “I was,” Beth Brown says with a laugh, “because I’d never heard of it. I thought yeah, this probably won’t help me at all…but it has!” Brown was paralyzed after a fall two years ago.  She regained the ability to walk but still struggled with balance. “I didn’t have any feeling on this side of my body. Now I have feeling in my left foot and leg and my hand and this arm. Plus, I have better motor skills, and I can walk better!”

Some of the movements focus on bouncing and shaking and part of the time we work on balancing on one leg.  Breathing is important throughout the class, and we do some self-massage on points in our temples and our ears. It creates a feeling of calm that’s exactly what Virginia Norris was looking for. “For me it’s just great because I tend to be a little wired and really tense,” she explains, “I’ve always carried a lot of stuff in my neck and shoulders and I don’t anymore!”

Everyone’s experience is different and so is every description but all of these people say practicing Qigong can help cure what’s ailing you.

If you’re interested in trying a class, contact Wesley Acres:  http://www.wesleylife.org/wesley-acres-des-moines.aspx