Paula’s Story: Qigong For Seniors, Part 2

I’ve been teaching Qigong to Seniors in a nearby retirement community for three years. Learning about the lives of these Seniors, as well as seeing their improvements with health, balance, stamina and peace of mind has had a huge impact on my spirit. I’d like to share some of their stories of health and growth with you.

Founder and Director of my town’s Neighborhood Services Center, Connie, 81, moved to the retirement community wanting to improve her strength and balance.  The fitness director suggested Connie try Qigong. She’s been a regular ever since. “Qigong reinforces the connection between my mind and body because my mind has to tell my body what to do. Left, right? Which goes first? Which follows?” she said.  But there’s more to class than working on our physical issues, said Connie. “We come with concerns about aging and illness, about the people we care about and about loss. Being a part of this group is very helpful.”

Remaining active is important to Betty, 80, who has Parkinson’s. “I need to be moving,” she said.  Betty says she likes that she moves all of her joints every class. “Our doctors are interested and happy that we’re doing this.” An added benefit for Betty is that the tremors and balance problems associated with her Parkinson’s haven’t developed like she thought they might.

After months of weekly practice, these Seniors are strong. If newcomers and guests have a hard time keeping up, we invite them to sit, relax and become nourished in our Qi field. Betty’s granddaughter, 17, a dancer, joins class when she comes to visit. She picked up the Qigong movements quickly and confessed that holding the Dragon Stands Between Heaven and Earth was hard for her. After watching the class demonstrate Qigong at the community-wide Talent Show last July, Tai joined the class and brought along her husband Chuck.  “I liked the movements and the music, so I decided to join.”

Mary Ann, 82, came to class because she promised herself that when she moved to a retirement community she was going to work her body. “I want to work both my physical body and my spiritual body and get them back into shape. I attend Qigong and I attend church, she said.  Mary Ann, a retired nurse, said she does the Dragon Rises from the Ocean in the morning before she takes her blood pressure. “It lowers the reading.”

Jayne admits that on some Thursday afternoons she’d rather be napping. “Thursday is a busy day for me, but I always feel better after class.  I especially like the ending, standing and listening to Master Lu’s meditation music.” A retired Professor of Nursing, Jayne has discovered how Qigong helps with mobility, flexibility, coordination and stamina. “The movements are weight-bearing and they stimulate our brains. And a lot of the moves have a spiritual dimension,” she said.

We laugh, and it’s often at my expense, like when I can’t pull up music on my iPad. And on those days when I lose track of counting, someone always reassures me that it’s OK—memory lapse comes with their territory. What a gift—being poked in good-spirited fun and getting to share what I love with these enthusiastic and appreciative Seniors.

-Paula Graham

Click here to read Part 1 of Paula’s journey.