Every week in Weymouth, students connect to generations of Chinese and others who have also tried the meditative practice of qigong – pronounced “chee-gung” – for more than 4,000 years. Using movement and rhythmic breathing to strengthen and relax the body, qigong aims to help practitioners get in sync with their own bodies, as well.
As the shadows lengthen and the sky turns pink over Great Hill Park, the stresses of the day fade away. “Soften your joints and rest your mind,” Suzanne Brownell tells a group gathered on the grassy expanse, which overlooks the Fore River and the Boston skyline. “Connect to your breath.”
Brownell is helping her students connect to generations of Chinese and others who have tried the meditative practice of qigong – pronounced “chee-gung” – for more than 4,000 years. Using movement and rhythmic breathing to strengthen and relax the body, qigong also aims to help practitioners get in sync with their own bodies.
For Brownell, its effect is almost magical.
“You feel this sense of being really present in the moment and present throughout the rest of your day,” says Brownell, 42, a certified health and fitness instructor.
Her qigong class is offered through Weymouth’s recreation department, said Valerie Sullivan, the town’s community health program coordinator. The current class will conclude Tuesday; another is planned for the spring.
Qigong aims to harness qi, which Brownell describes as “the energy that surrounds us” – coming from the sky and the ground, then moving through one’s heart and mind.
She calls qigong “a form of moving meditation” and says it increases our muscle strength and flexibility, range of motion and joint mobility.
According to the Qigong Institute, the practice can prevent disease, reduce stress, help with chronic illness and slow the effects of aging.
“(Qigong) is nourishing for our bodies” and lets practitioners “tap into our own healing properties within us,” Brownell said.
“This just helps to bring us back home within our own body,” she said. “It’s like we’re cleaning house when we’re doing these kinds of exercises and these different forms of ancient practice. We’re coming back home and being present.”
FOR MORE INFO:
For more information on the Great Hill Park qigong class, call Val Sullivan with Weymouth's health department at (781) 682-3500 or contact Suzanne Brownell of Health Thyself LLC at (617) 592-1496 or via her Web site at healththyself.com