Motion As Medicine
Liquid radiance. It sounds like a potion in a boiling pot. It feels like magic. However, it comes from within. It’s how Bill Douglas describes the feeling of calm during a deep breathing and meditation exercise called QiGong (pronounced chee kung) prior to T’ai Chi (pronounced tie chee).
One Saturday in January, Douglas met with a room full of folks seeking a solution from seven-day-a-week stress and other ailments. The room was full of beginners, experts and skeptics whose reliance upon Western medicine often prevents them from trying anything besides the popular pill in a bottle.
Nevertheless, everyone literally let go and took a deep breath, then another, another … and another. After the breathing exercise and meditation, Douglas introduced the T’ai Chi movements. The enlightened crowd of newcomers was spellbound by experienced students who stepped in sync with Douglas. They appeared to be slowly dancing in a sphere of sunshine and serenity. It was almost liquid. It was definitely radiant.
Douglas, an Overland Park resident, is a T’ai Chi and QiGong teacher, presenter and bestselling author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi and QiGong. He is the founder of World T’ai Chi and QiGong Day, which is celebrated in more than 70 countries. He was inducted into the Internal Arts Hall of Fame and is the T’ai Chi expert for DrWeil.com. He is an honored faculty member of the American QiGong Association and the World QiGong Federation. He is a previous board member of the National QiGong Association.
What are T’ai Chi and QiGong?
T’ai Chi is more than a thousand years old with roots in Chinese martial arts. Today, T’ai Chi is one of the fastest and most popular forms of exercise with nearly 20 percent of the world’s population practicing the therapy in institutions, hospitals, schools, businesses and backyards. The exercise is credited for reducing stress, slowing the aging process, clearing the mind, increasing blood flow, improving athletic performance and even curing some diseases.
QiGong is an ancient form of meditative breathing that claims to allow the body to identify and release energy blocks in order to relax the mind and body.
Join a T’ai Chi or QiGong class with Bill Douglas
In other words, Bill Douglas is an expert in all things T’ai Chi and QiGong. He’s also relaxed, unpretentious and completely unstressed. He says that wasn’t always the case.
“When I was young, I moved to Los Angeles with my wife, and it was so stressful,” says Douglas. “The traffic along with job changes, city life, young kids and everything else at that time was unbearable to me.”
Douglas read about a local T’ai Chi and QiGong class and decided to give it a try to ease his anxiety. After that, he began taking classes once a week. He practiced at home with his wife every evening. He says that his cool came back soon after he learned T’ai Chi and QiGong.
“I started to get a lot more jobs because of it,” laughs Douglas, who wound up doing payroll taxes for five international companies despite the lack of a finance education. “My stress management skills were better, and I could just learn and pick things up easier.”
Tina Webb agrees. She saw a difference in her life immediately after taking her first T’ai Chi and QiGong class.
“I signed up for it because I was about to have a nervous breakdown,” says Webb who is a hard-working 52-year-old. “I didn’t want to take drugs and thought the class might be a good option.”
Webb was highly amazed that breathing and simple steps could have such an impact on her daily life. She was even more impressed when her hay fever and seasonal allergies almost disappeared.
“The first fall after I started practicing, I realized my head was clear and thought, ‘hey, I should be sneezing my head off!’” says Webb, who hasn’t taken an allergy medication since she started T’ai Chi and QiGong.
Although Webb admits that she eats to cope with stress, she says even that has changed.
“I crave more fruits and vegetables instead of potato chips,” explains a bemused Webb. “I can even use the breathing to control menopause symptoms like hot flashes.”
Similar stories are what prompted Ladeana Roberson, 47, to sign up for a six-week session with Douglas at Shawnee Civic Center.
“I had been seeing stuff about it for over a year on TV and in a brochure,” says Roberson, who usually prefers a more fast-paced fitness regimen. “I was just curious about it and decided to try it out.”
After her first experience with QiGong breathing and meditation, Roberson was stunned. A simple inhale and exhale session with Douglas did more than any day spa.
“I felt like I just had a heat massage,” says Roberson. “I felt like a noodle, and I was almost floating.”
Douglas gently guides participants in the QiGong breathing exercise and often describes one’s breath as a massage instrument during the journey of letting go of the mind. He says that the T’ai Chi movements take the experience even further by allowing the muscles to loosen and let go.
“Life energy is just waiting to expand through us all the time,” says Douglas. “T’ai Chi and QiGong will return you to a state of grace. It returns you to you.”
For more information, visit smarttaichi.com or worldtaichiday.org.