In hunting around for exercise classes in Portland, I discovered something amazing: most stores that sell yoga apparel in town, also offer free classes in their stores in between business hours. If you didn’t know this was a thing you’re missing out and should check out my exercise calendar stat which aggregates all of the free classes in town. prAna, which is on the corner of NW 23rd and Irving, is no exception and I took advantage of their community classes by doing some Qigong the other day.
While exercising in a clothing store can feel weird at first (weird in that you want to shop. +1 for their apparel store strategy!), prAna does a good job of separating the space without totally minimizing the fact that they do sell yoga clothing.
My Qigong class was taught by an very nice instructor named, Chris, who also happens to be an acupuncturist. He put up with all of my 2396829139217327 questions about Qigong since I walked knowing zilch about it. From what I could gather, Qigong is similar to Tai Chi or yoga in that you pair movements with the breath in an effort to cultivate personal energy. The class was done standing upright and we would envision a ball of energy between our hands and then transfer that energy from palm to palm or around our bodies.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “that sounds like some hippie dippie sh*t,” which is what I thought at first, too. In fact, because I suffer from type-a-uenza and can’t even meditate in yoga class, I was certain that “energy” wouldn’t be something I would notice. But, within a few minutes, I started to feel “tingles” in my hands and arms as we moved through the routine. Focusing on cultivating those “tingles” or “energy” or “Qi” is what the class is all about and it is incredibly calming and kind of magical.
So, yeah, yeah, “hippie dippie shi*t” (and actually pre-hippie dippie since Qigong is thousands of years old). But, as a hippie dippie sh*t supporter and do-er, I can say that this sh*t is the sh*t so you should go try some Qigong. prAna Portland changes their free class schedule offerings every month, but from what I can tell, Qigong will be sticking around throughout September.