LIHUE — Qigong’s purposeful focus and controlled movement is a way to put the daily grind on pause and do some self-care, practitioners and instructors say.
Anyone can learn the ancient art in free introductory classes at Lihue Neighborhood Center Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m. with Peter and Janis Sterne.
“‘Qi’ means ‘energy’ and gong is the exercise, so it’s ‘energy exercise,’” Peter said. “It increases vitality and overall health.”
Qigong is considered the root of all traditional Chinese medicine practices, and combines postures, breathing and mindfulness into a moving meditation with the goal of clearing the mind, releasing stress and building awareness in the body.
It helps reduce blood pressure, relieve depression and anxiety, and improve overall coordination, according to studies published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research.
Though methodical and slow-paced, practicing qigong works up a sweat. The beginning sequence lasts about 30 minutes and the same motions are repeated in the second half of the hour.
After the hour class, the Sternes lead a regeneration practice that allows attendees to dive deeper into the practice.
“It’s not a class per say. It’s something we lead,” Janis Sterne said. “You can follow along and feel your way through.”
In the Qigong Golden 8 beginner class and the rejuvenation classes, Peter and Janis take turns walking through the group of students, helping refine poses and keeping everyone on the same page.
The beginner qigong class is open to people of all ages, and studies have shown it is helpful as part of cancer treatments, positively affects hypertension, and increases productivity and wellness in college students.
For older adults, qigong also helps improve mood, regulate weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors, but it also helps prevent falls, increase bone density, and improve the immune system.
“We have a couple of students that have Parkinson’s and quite a few students who need help with their balance,” Janis Sterne said.
Peter and Janis learned about qigong from a demonstration in 2005. By 2007, they were asked to lead classes with Qigong Golden 8.
“We hadn’t heard anything about qigong, but our friend asked us if we were interested in this thing that could increase longevity and wellness,” Janis Sterne said. “That sounded good to us.”