Have you been on WNC’s beautiful hikes, toured the Biltmore, circled downtown, driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, but still looking for something new to do in the Asheville area? Maybe some Martial Arts?? Tried yoga, but looking for something a bit less challenging, more grounding? You might want to try the ancient eastern practice of Qigong!
What is Qigong – Martial Art
Qigong is a Martial Art, pronounced and sometimes spelled Chi Gung. It’s supposed to be great for your health, and they say it’s been around for thousands of years.
First time practicers and beginners often do it best, it’s something folks could ‘drop in’ and still get great benefit.
Above all, to me, Qigong is a gentle exercise to help calm and unify mind and body. Anyone can participate, it’s basically follow the leader, and classes I’ve been to are usually under an hour. You stand stationary in one place and basically hold, turn, and manipulate an imaginary ‘ball’. Movements are a set of slow, deliberate, sweeping motions. The instructor typically stands in front of a group of Qigong practitioners and leads them. It’s a good idea to wear loose fitting clothes like you’re going to work out, but don’t count on breaking a sweat. Folks unable to stand can use a chair, really the only risk might be getting dizzy, I can’t think of anything else. Subsequently, Qigong seems perfect for all ages, young children through seniors.
That’s about all I know about Qigong. I ran across the practice about a decade ago, and went maybe a dozen times, up north at Cloudwater Zendo in Ohio. Since moving to the Asheville area, I haven’t been to Qigong. Until now.
I ran across a Qigong class at Embracing Simplicity Meditation Center in Hendersonville. Their schedule online says a drop in class is available each Tuesday and Sunday from 11:00 to 11:45am.
After sending a message to them confirming first-time or novice Qigong-ers were welcome (we are!) and the cost, a nice person named Amy wrote back and said “just show up and offer from your heart”. (Typically speaking, in other places I’ve been, it’s customary to offer $10 to $20 per class, session or event.)
I went for the Qigong class and was just a few minutes late. (Apparently nobody told Google Waze that Henderson County’s Apple Festival was blocking downtown Hendersonville. haha – look out for another article on that great event!)
When parking, a Sister happened to be walking by and greeted me. After asking if it was my first time there (and saying yes), she took time to walk me back to the Qigong class that was already underway.
As I joined the class that had already begun, about a half dozen folks were gathered around. I didn’t get the instructors name, but they were all very welcoming. The class was great, I really enjoyed it, and not sure why I haven’t done Qigong for years. I wish I would have kept up my Qigong practice.
Qigong is a Martial Art not a religion!
Now…… if you’re not into meditation, or you are not a Buddhist, don’t let this place scare you off! I was raised catholic, complete with compulsory Catholic elementary school, and I’ll vouch the Qigong class is not religious at all. But if you decide to stay for the Dharma talk (pretty much like a Priest’s Sermon at Mass), you’ll likely not be disappointed. From the little I know about Buddhism, it’s really a philosophy and set of morals rather than religion. There are many Christian folks I know who meditate, and hold the very same moral values Buddhists teach. And the corresponding Dharma talk was inspiring, to say the least. But just try the Qigong.
Try something new, visit a Qigong class today! In Hendersonville, just twenty five minute drive from Asheville, and seems great for all ages. Anyone can participate, beginners seem to do the best. 🙂
Embracing Simplicity Meditation Center
at Heartwood Refuge and Retreat Center
159 Osceola Road
Hendersonville, NC 28739
Here’s their website and the schedule: https://www.heartwoodrefuge.org/embracing-simplicity-sangha-weekly-activities/