By Thomas Mattes
Kenyon students and faculty have a new way to cope with the stresses of classwork, extracurricular activities and campus jobs: qigong classes at the Horn Gallery.
Qigong combines energy and exercise through careful breathing techniques and slow, repetitive movements.
Associate Professor of Anthropology Patricia Urban, who participates in the Chinese meditation and exercise practice, said it is a form of meditation through movement. When I started the class I felt like Id discovered something that my mind and body wanted, but that I didnt know existed, she said. It encourages focus on what is happening in the moment. It is incredibly relaxing and defuses anger and frustration.
Steve Hatfield, a Mount Vernon resident, teaches the Horn course along with lessons at the Panther Kenpo Karate Studio in Mount Vernon. Currently, about eight students and five faculty members participate in the qigong classes offered at the Horn, according to Coordinator of Disability Services Erin Salva, who knows the benefits of Qigong firsthand.
After falling off her bike and grappling with reduced mobility, Salva attended one of Hatfields classes. [I had] not only physical healing, but healing of the mind, body and soul, she said. [The purpose] is to enhance wellness and provide students an opportunity to develop focus and concentration.
The qigong courses started after Rector Helen Svoboda-Barber studied qigong while on sabbatical. She received a grant to fund the course, which is also sponsored by the Harcourt Parish Episcopal Church.
In the future, Salva hopes to secure permanent funding, possibly even working with the Kenyon Athletic Centers wellness programs to offer qigong regularly.
For now, Kenyon students can pursue their own mind-body connections with Hatfields classes, offered every Thursday during Common Hour at the Horn through April 26.
Students are short of sleep, and while Qigong wont replace sleep, it can help one fall asleep more easily and avoid anxiety dreams, Urban said. The stretching and other movements are good for the body in general. I am surprised that so few take advantage of the classes. Their loss and its a big one.
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