Gently stretching their arms overhead, participants in a class at the Edmonton Seniors Centre takes direction from instructor Sheridan Mahoney in their first ever lesson in the art of Qigong. Similar to Tai Chi, the practice involves sequences of soft movement and meditation. “Qigong is more related to healthful healing practices,” says Mahoney. “Tai Chi has that aspect in it as well but it's more martial. It's more for aggressive or defensive movement.”
Former Tai Chi practitioner Dale Blue says he was initially unsure what to expect, but after his first class, he'll be back for more. “This has much more visualizing and awareness of breathing, which is very different,” says Blue. “I like that visualization aspect of it, I like that centering.”
According to the National Qigong Association, Qigong is an ancient Chinese system of movement that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. It's the first time the class is being offered at the centre. Mahoney was newly certified to teach in early January. She discovered the practice while living in Portland, Oregon. Mahoney says Qigong is all about harmonizing the body, spirit and mind. Mahoney hopes to spark a healing revolution. “Your inner spirit is a big aspect of health and maintaining a positive attitude towards life,” says Mahoney. “The main thing that I hope is that people will get a sense of inner joy from practicing these simple harmonizing techniques.”
Sheridan Mahoney will be teaching Qigong classes at Northgate Lions Seniors Centre, Edmonton Seniors Recreation Centre and Strathcona Seniors Centre. Classes continue through February.