Qigong exercises expand healing energy

By Julie Fann
STAR STAFF
jfann@starhq.com

  
Any kind of physical exercise that smacks of Eastern thought is sometimes dismissed as bogus by those who reside in the Bible Belt. However, John Webb, local instructor of Qigong, an ancient Chinese art that combines movement, meditation, and balanced breathing, is quick to explain that energy is energy. It is non-denominational.
   "The basic rules of energy in this world are the same for all of us ... This (Qigong) has nothing to do with religious faith. It is about physics," said Webb.
   Webb received his certification to teach Qigong (pronounced Chee-Kung) in Atlantic City, New Jersey through the American Aerobic Association International (AAAI). He became interested in the healing aspect of Qigong exercises, he said, seven years ago through encouragement from his wife, who is involved in yoga.
   "Arthritis runs in my family. There was a time when I couldn't turn my foot, or look behind me when I back up in a parking lot. Now, I can do those things, and more," he said. "It's magical."
   Webb explained that we all have a life energy, or qi (pronounced "chee"), a ball of atoms that serves as a foundation for strength and that produces an aura around us. As we come to understand that energy and work with it, we can receive healing that is physical and emotional.
   In Chinese medicine, there is only one real cause of illness, and that is congestion of the Qi (Chee).
   To prove his point, Webb directed me through an exercise to help me to "find my qi". Like all thinking individuals, I was doubtful at first. As the exercise progressed, though, I couldn't deny that I felt something similar to a ball of energy pushing my hands together in front of my abdomen.
   "By being made up of atoms, we have an electromagnetic energy field. It's around us; it's in us, and we can reach out, since we're living on a huge magnet with north and south poles, and our electromagnetism can actually mingle with what's out there," Webb said.
   Exercises in Qigong work to align atoms within our bodies and balance the flow of energy. Qigong literally means working with energy and dates back 5,000 years, according to Webb.
   "The classes are growing all the time. The interest in Qigong is growing as people become aware of it," Webb said.
   Qigong exercises are gentle and slow, focusing on developing breathing skills and elasticity through controlled movement. Qigong is the forerunner to war-like eastern physical arts such as Tai-Chi and Karate.
   Webb recently attended a Qigong seminar in Asheville, N.C. where he said approximately 200 people attended. Relatively new to Americans, Webb hopes the exercises will be used more to help those who suffer from life-threatening illnesses such as cancer.
   "It is so sensitive to helping people, that we will volunteer to help somebody at no charge. Then, if they like what we do, they can make a little contribution to help keep us going," Webb said. "You've got to kind of accept something and say, 'if there is some truth here, maybe I should try it.'"
   Webb said that, in China, there are instances where Qigong exercises have healed those suffering from cancer.
   "Sooner or later, nearly every major doctor's office will have someone who knows something about Qigong on their staff," said Webb.
   Webb explained that western medicine focuses too heavily on treating symptoms through medication, rather than finding alternative ways to promote health for individuals.
   "Not only are you working with energy in Qigong, but you are telling your body that you are doing something to help it. You are communicating with yourself," Webb said.
   Webb teaches Qigong classes at Franklin Fitness Center every Monday evening. He also instructs classes in Johnson City and offers a special course for seniors who suffer from arthritis.