When it comes to qi gong, William Tucker is the man. He can teach everything about how to breathe and move in the ancient Chinese tradition, and the first thing a person will probably learn is how to pronounce it.
Qi gong (chee-gung) is a philosophy of people’s ability to move energy within their own bodies. Tucker simply defines it as energy work or energy exercise.
“It’s an ancient system of health maintenance,” he said. “You could boil it down to exercise that’s working on harmonizing the body, the breath and the mind.”
He elaborated by saying that it has elements of meditation, gentle stretching and strengthening the muscles and body, and it has relationships with various forms of martial arts although it is not a martial arts practice. It has always been performed as health exercises, he indicated, regardless of the intentions of the practitioner.
“The hard qi gong practices toughen the body, condition the body so that it can better take blows in martial arts activities. The softer, meditative forms of qi gong … martial artists also find them useful for just having the mind in a state where it can be quiet, still and focused.”
Tucker conducts workshops at the Water Garden Spa at the Enjoy Centre and said the beginner’s course is suitable for everyone and anyone. Participants need not have any familiarity or expertise in order to join in.
The movements are simpler than those of tai chi. In fact, they’re overwhelmingly easy and geared towards a general audience.
“There’s not as much choreography or things to remember,” Tucker said.
That’s ideal for the local audience, he says, which doesn’t have as much awareness or experience with either of these practices.
“I think it’s starting to be recognized now, both the names and the practices, and the benefits. Yoga is very popular but qi gong is just starting to get a bit more recognition. There’s also been more medical studies … referring to qi gong or tai chi that have shown the benefits for various ailments,” he stated, saying that people suffering hypertension were found to derive such benefits.
He personally couldn’t attest to these claims but he has been involved with qi gong for more than 30 years and he remembers that he suffered fewer colds and other common ailments at the beginning.
“I just felt like my general health or immune system was boosted,” he said.
Tucker’s next qi gong workshop at the spa takes place next Saturday. Call 780-651-7365 or visit www.watergarden.ca to find out more or to sign up.