Free tai chi and qigong classes are available in West Jefferson as part of a pilot wellness program offered by the Ashe County Library.
“Right now, we’re focusing on qigong, practicing slow movement, working on breathing, teaching about alignment of the spine and how to stand properly,” said Sybil Harmon of Creston, a certified tai chi, qigong and meditation instructor.
Qigong — pronounced “chee goong” — is a 4,000-year old Chinese system of physical exercises and breathing control focused on balancing the body’s energy and promoting self-healing, Harmon said. It is considered a foundation for the practice of tai chi.
“The first classes will be about gathering and building energy, learning to move in a balanced and relaxed way,” she said. “We will be doing qigong as a warm-up for tai chi.”
“I will be teaching the basics of tai chi, which are common to all forms of tai chi,” she said.
Harmon, who has been a tai chi instructor for 15 years, said the benefits of practicing tai chi and qigong include pain relief, improved balance and flexibility, stress relief, increased vitality, promotion of blood circulation and a calm and focused mind.
There is also some clinical evidence that tai chi boosts the immune system, she said.
Harmon’s pilot group meets 10-11 a.m. Thursdays through March 14 on the lower level of Ashe County Library in the Community Room. Class sizes have been 11-15 people.
“If we get more, we will continue,” she said, adding that classes would move outdoors with warmer weather. “We’d like to see 20 or 30 people outside.”
Beginning March 9, Harmon will also teach a free tai chi community class from 1-2 p.m. every second Saturday at the Ashe County Library “just to give people a taste of what it’s about,” she said.
For more information contact Harmon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (336)255-3206.