By MIKE STROMME
Things are going to get a lot more relaxed at Conestoga College now that the QiGong Moving Meditation Club is up and running.
QiGong, (pronounced chee-kung), is an ancient Chinese meditation that emphasizes breathing techniques, slowing down the mind, natural movement and posture. QiGong emphasizes the importance of breathing, teaching solid breathing techniques to give the body oxygen. More oxygen allows for better cognitive function and improves sleeping patterns.
“How many times in a day do we actually realize that we’re breathing?” said club president Suzie Nunes.
Nunes, a first-year occupational therapist and physiotherapist assistant student, is a certified QiGong instructor and member of the National QiGong Association. She has been using QiGong ever since she broke her ankle in 1996 while living in Malaysia. She attributes much of her recovery to QiGong.
“The more (QiGong) I would do, the more I was feeling better,” she said. “I wasn’t feeling so restricted in my walking after QiGong.”
Nunes grew up in Montreal and lived there for much of her life. She went to business school in the city, acquired a bachelor of business administration and worked for SAP Canada before a corporate merger forced her out of a job. She parlayed her severance package into a diploma in commercial photography, which led to a six-month internship in Egypt. After her internship, she moved to Penang, Malaysia. From there, she spent the next five years travelling all over Southeast Asia taking photographs before coming back to Canada in 2010.
“Identity has always been a huge question for me,” said Nunes. “QiGong helps me answer those questions.”
Upon her return to Canada, Nunes attended QiGong classes in Toronto. The practice inspired her enough to begin teaching her own classes. She started on a volunteer basis at Sunnyside Home Long Term Care in Kitchener, a position that eventually turned into a paid job. She now has classes at the Rockway Community Centre in Kitchener, the Affinity Health Clinic in New Hamburg and at the Self-Help Alliance in Kitchener in addition to the club at Conestoga. She also does private sessions.
“I had one instructor tell me, “To learn is to teach,” so here I am,” said Nunes.
Each class is held in an environment that is conducive to relaxation. The setting features soft, flowing, earthly music. All lights, aside from a big circle of string lights, are turned out.
Despite QiGong’s ancient origins, the practice is not religious.
“It’s not critical, it’s not judgmental. It really is a health practice,” said Nunes.
Nunes’ rave reviews and positive testimony caught the attention of first-year occupational therapist and physiotherapist assistant student Jen Coombs.
“Suzie is very well-spoken, very bright. She gives off a lot of good vibes. She talked a lot about it, and it got me interested in (QiGong),” said Coombs. “The nice thing about (QiGong) is that, when we finally get started, it will be something new that everyone can start to see and start to move into.”
The QiGong Moving Meditation Club held its first class on Jan. 27. Classes run from noon to 1 p.m. every Wednesday in Room 2E26. However, the location is subject to change pending class sizes. Nunes’ other classes are Thursday nights at 7 p.m. at the Rockway Community Centre in Kitchener and the Self-Help Alliance building in Kitchener on Saturdays at noon.
For more information on the club, follow Suzie Nunes on Twitter at @SuzieNunes or look for Conestoga QiGong Moving Meditations on Facebook.