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Qigong classes offer calming exercises

Donation-based Qigong classes were offered at First United Methodist Church in Russellville June 6. Instructor Anna Carol Porter of Holistic Harmony taught the classes.

Porter grew up in Russellville and recently moved back after living in California, where she said she learned to love Qigong.

“The flexibility in practicing Qigong is wonderful,” Porter said, “as it can truly benefit everyone because it doesn’t have to be done while standing. It can be performed while sitting or even while lying down.”

Porter said Qigong originated more than 4,000 years ago in China and contains the same principles as Tai Chi. The emphasis is on slow, fluid movements and breathing. It is meant to help promote calm and general wellness.

During the class, Porter emphasized the importance of the 70/40 rule: if injured or just needing to slow down, participants were encouraged to do 40 percent or less. She encouraged breathing slower and trying to slow thoughts. “The goal is to calm all the senses,” Porter said.

The first class, Awaken, started at 9 a.m. It was designed to help set the tone for a better day. The next class, Dragon and Tiger, was only open to cancer patients and those in remission.

The third class, Calm and Rest, was designed to help people slow down, feel calmer and to get ready to sleep well.

Local musician Kerry Gilbert was among those to participate in the sessions. “I feel refreshed, like I have released a lot. I feel calmer,” Gilbert said. Russellville resident Caroline Atkins agreed. “It was very centering for me,” she added. “I feel more relaxed.”

Carolyn Porter, mother of the instructor, said she has enjoyed learning Qigong. “Qigong helps me sleep better. It is improving my flexibility and movement.”

While instructing the sessions, Porter talked about working to “punch out anger, fear and worry – whatever is bothering you.” She also emphasized working on balance, learning how to shift weight so as to reduce the likelihood of falling.

“I felt very comfortable during the class,” said Brooke Pounders, who was trying the practice for the first time. “I feel calmer and a little more positive.”

Part of the classes involved encouragement to do movements that mimicked nature, such as swaying “like bamboo in the wind.” Porter explained Qigong is about slowing down, feeling calmer and “feeling more in tune with everything.”

Other aspects of the instruction involved encouragement to do movements such as “swimming like the polar bear” and “crouching like the tiger.”

“You get a lot of benefit, even when you aren’t doing things perfectly,” Porter said.

She taught one local Qigong class previously, March 28. Porter said she so far has offered classes on a donation basis, and she likes to use part of the money to donate to FUMC’s help fund.

While no future classes have been set yet, Porter said she hopes to offer more soon.

For more information, visit Holistic Harmony’s Facebook page or contact Porter by email at or by phone at 256-668-2830.