Mind-body exercises employed by Chinese warriors millennia ago can poise modern people for the "battle of daily life."
"It's really about harnessing our own energy," says Laura Winslow while teaching qigong (CHEE'-gung) to students in Medford. "We're all made up of energy."
Translated in English as "energy exercise," qigong is an ancient philosophy that's gained popularity in recent decades with Western recognition of traditional Chinese medicine. While acupuncture, massage and other complementary therapies manipulate the "life force" known as "qi" (or "chi"), principles of qigong increasingly are applied to the contexts of exercise, meditation and relaxation.
"I just really believe in its healing and restorative powers," says Sheree Butsch, who has been taking weekly qigong classes, along with yoga, for the past year at Medford's Rasa Center for Yoga and Wellness.
A recent Rasa class begins with subtle modes of breathing and stretching before moving into several scripted series of movements guided by "healing sounds" and color imagery. Students finish the 45-minute session seated for a short meditation and visualization.
"It works with releasing emotional debris ... and I find that fascinating," says Winslow, who incorporates qigong into her Integrative Recovery Therapy program, used in Medford and Ashland for addiction treatment.