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Qigong may help you relax and get stronger

Do you want to find your inner peace while doing gentle rhythmic movements to relax and strengthen your body all at the same time?

Well then Qigong just might be for you.

The history of Qigong, pronounced chee-gong, is dated back more than 4,000 years ago.

It is the Chinese practice of aligning breathing, movements and awareness for exercise and healing.

It wasn’t until 1972 when China opened up to the western world that we became more aware of Qigong.

Most of America’s first exposure to Qigong was in the PBS series “Healing and the Mind” with Bill Moyers in 1993.This series introduced the traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and Qigong.

30 benefits of Qigong

1. Loosen muscles

2. Builds power

3. Strengthens organs

4. Slows respiration

5. Strengthens nerves

6. Builds bone density

7. Prevents joint injury

8. Strengthens ligaments

9. Destroys free radicals

10. Increases injury recovery

11. Decreases stress

12. Balances emotions

13. Improves circulation

14. Prevents muscular-spasms

15. Reduces pain

16. Lowers heart rate

17. Normalizes EKG

18. Lowers blood pressure

19. Improves asthma

20. Relieves bronchitis

21. Builds immune system

22. Relieves migraines

23. Decreases stroke risks

24. Improves skin elasticity

25. Improves posture

26. Improves flexibility

27. Increases balance

28. Improves memory

29. Aides in digestion

30. Improves kidney function

Effects of qigong range from feelings of calm, peace and well-being to nurture the body.

Qigong is an exercises and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing, and movement exercise. The exercises are adaptable to all skill levels and can be done standing or seated. It is done with soft music and slow movements and body stretching.

“As an occupational therapy assistant, I included Qigong exercises as a part of treatment sessions, and observed positive changes in my patients on many levels. I witnessed increased participation in therapy, positive mental attitude and saw measurable improvements in their range of motion and strength, thus increasing their abilities to preform activities of daily living” said Kiki Peppard, Qigong instructor, reflexologist and certified occupational therapy assistant.

Qigong has been around for thousands of years, but does not share the popularity such as Yoga and Pilates.

“Qigong has made a tremendous personal difference in my life. I have a noticeable significant decrease in Fibromyalgia symptoms, have more energy and experience less pain.” added Peppard

June Gaudreau of Jim Thorpe has been going to Qigong classes for about one year. She is a believer in the exercises.

“This is one hour all week where I can relax and be totally mindful of what I am doing” said Gaudreau.

People who maintain a consistent practice of Qigong find that it helps one regain a youthful vitality, maintain health, even into old age and helps speed recovery from illness.

Recently, Peppard put on a program for the Palmerton Concourse Club after its monthly meeting. About 30 women learned about the benefits and participated in some Qigong exercises.

Diane Huber, club member, enjoyed the program and felt that she was very inspired with what she learned about Qigong.

“I was impressed with Qigong as it can be done by anyone no matter what your ability is,” said Jo Ann King club member.

Erica Messics, a Palmerton area senior class member, attended the meeting to receive the Concourse Club Guiding Star Award, was impressed.

“I really enjoyed Qigong. I have never done it before. It would be great if we could have this in our school to start off our day.We live in such a fast-paced world and always on the go. This makes you slow down and relax.”

Qigong is good for all ages.

Carrie Schaeffer, activities director for Mrs. Bushes Personal Care Home, shared her thoughts, “Kiki comes here once a week, and our residence just loves when she comes. It is easy enough for them to do but it is still beneficial for them at the same time. It is all movements that help them physically, and it is great because they all look forward to it.”

Exercising could be changing in America. People are wanting to live longer, reduce stress and improvetheir health through mind-body exercises such as Qigong offers.

Group classes are available for weekly, biweekly, monthly or a one-time event or to learn more, contact Peppard at Kpeppard@ptd.net.

Linda Vella, Mary Ann Hazelm, Joanna Scott, Betty Wieczorek, Qigong instructor Kiki Peppard and Karen Kaiser meet for a weekly class at the Palmerton Area Library. MARY TOBIA/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS