Updated: Jan 4
A few years ago our Parkinson's friend, Liz, invited John and me to attend a two-day Qigong class with Master Mingtong Gu of the Chi Center in Santa Fe. John was already family with the concept of chi through some online therapy and practice he had done, long before Zoom, with Jeffrey Zimmerman, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and musical savant. So we decided to give it a try.
Qigong is the study and practice of cultivating the life force energy known as sometimes called Chi. Qi or chi, means "breath" or "air" and is considered to be the vital-life-force in this ancient practice. This term chi corresponds to prana, in Yoga. The western concept of this energy is bio-electricity. The word gong means "work" or "effort". In our busy world it is easy to get distracted from the essence of who we are and our connection to our vital life force. The creates block energy in the body and can translate in to pain, stiffness and other signs of congestion.
In Parkinson's disease, there are short circuits in the signaling (bio-electricity) of the body which interrupt the flow of movement. Master Mingtong's practice involves slow movement, sound and mindfulness to remove energy blockages in the body. The movements are gentle and easy to do. Even if you are stiff and lack mobility you can practice the techniques in your minds eye until you are ready to give it a physical try.
This study from 2016 from researchers at Texas A&M and Being Sport University, found Health Qigong exercise could significantly improve PD patients' muscle hardness, functional walking capacity, hand-eye coordination, stability, and balance.
During 2020 the Chi Center started to provide more content for free on YouTube and to expand their online courses to a broader audience through Zoom classes in their own portal. I started to add this to my daily routine and John would sometimes join me. My experience over the past year has increased my interest in QiGong as a supportive therapy for Parkinson's disease. Underlying stress which can exacerbate stiffness in Parkinson's can be improved through greater awareness and acknowledgement of where the stress sits in the body. One of the principles of Wisdom Healing QiGong is Awareness.
For 2021 we have committed to expand our practice of Qigong on a daily basis. If you are interested in the potential for Zoom QiGong, please email me or post on the members forum. I would like to schedule some online classes in 2021 where we can practice together as we build our community.