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Where we live: Finding a new exercise routine

Published May 25. 2019 06:30AM

By Mary Tobia

You’re never too old to try something new.

Last fall I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and my rheumatoid arthritis medication stopped working on top of that. I experienced a lengthy time of bad health over the fall and winter. I lost a lot of weight and had crippling fatigue. Even something as simple as getting a bowl of cereal in the morning was a major undertaking. My devoted husband became the chief cook, dishwasher and did everything else including in running the household. Bed rest and staying home became the normal. My energy level was a two on a good day.

After a few months my health very slowly returned, and I knew I had to start getting out and trying to get some exercise. I am a very bad sport when it comes to this, even walking around the block was a chore. My husband on the other hand is a firm believer in exercise and goes to the gym every day. He encouraged me to try to find a form of exercise that appealed to me.

As I was reading the newspaper, I saw the Palmerton Area Library was starting a new exercise class. It was called Qigong Class for Beginners. It read gentle, relaxing exercises that are coordinated to soft music, incorporating breathing with smooth, slow, flowing movements.

The words “slow flowing movements and gentle exercises” got my attention. The class was only an hour long, so I was encouraged. The fact that it didn’t require any special clothing or nothing extra to bring was also a plus for me.

As I walked into the class for the first evening, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to withstand the whole hour with my energy level. The room was darkened with many candles glowing on the table. Soft oriental music was playing in the background. The qualified instructor immediately made us feel welcome in a relaxed and personable way.

She explained to us the background of Qigong, how it is done, and from that moment on I was very interested.

Qigong is described as a mind-body spirit practice that improves your mental and physical health by promoting posture, movement, sound and focusing. It is an ancient Chinese mind and body exercise for all ages and all physical conditions.

Qigong means life force energy. The class is made up of slow relaxed stretching, visualization and deep breathing and a calm mind. It is a powerful way to accommodate healing energy in our body. The list of benefits of this exercise is endless. From strengthening and loosening muscles, decrease stress, reduces pain, builds bone density, prevents joint injury, improves circulation and skin elasticity. It restores energy levels and calms the mind and so much more.

Our instructor with her soft smoothing voice introduced us to Qigong exercises. She taught us we can never do a move wrong and to go at your own pace. If there is a move that may bring pain to someone with a specific body issue, just modify that move to their ability. We do have a chair alongside of us if we need to sit. All exercises can be done from a sitting position.

When my first class was over, I was surprised to feel that I had more energy than when I started. That night I had the best night’s sleep in ages.

During the class I like to close my eyes and follow the instructor’s voice as she leads us to flow from one slow exercise to another. I can shut out all thoughts, worries and just concentrate on my movements, what I hear and how I feel during the one-hour class.

I look forward to going to the Qigong class each Monday evening more than I ever thought I would. The great appeal is that anyone can benefit from practicing Qigong regardless of your level of physical fitness, whether you are old or young or your life circumstances.

I may not go to a gym every day, but I certainly did find a new exercise routine that suits me perfectly to a T, or should I say a “QI.”

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