Qi Gong for Seniors

Lee Holden
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Athletic Stretch , Seniors/Seated , Tai Chi / Qigong

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This DVD features 2 hours of content, including a 30 minute routine shown two ways: the standard practice with Lee alone, and a modified practice featuring Lee and his Mom, Karen Holden, working in tandem. Karen remains seated on a chair and Lee stands behind a matching chair, demonstrating balance assistance. The remaining 1.5 hours contains an introduction to Qi Gong, instructions on how to use the DVD, and bonus tracks (interview with Lee – highly recommended - a how-to guide, behind the scenes footage and teasers for other Exercise to Heal productions).

This program is beautifully filmed outdoors at Sand Harbor State Park, Nevada, with Lee and his Mom demonstrating on a platform/raft in the water. They chose a spot with some mildly vigorous surf; Lee is occasionally sprayed with bubbles in his solo routine, adding some smiles to this gentle flow. Background music is gentle, and starts with Oriental sounding flute which morphs into more traditional relaxation music - gentle guitar strums and light piano. It is well cued in voice over. The program sequence for both routines consists of:

~ deep abdominal breathing segueing into wave breathing;
~ spinal cord breathing;
~ a standing version of dog wagging the tail;
~ the wave (gently waving the torso forward and rolling spine upward);
~ turtle neck (the wave in reverse to unkink the neck and shoulders;
~ upper back stretches incorporating the wrists and hands;
~ side stretches;
~ palm press (arms stretched down and out, palms flexed upward, stretching head to one shoulder then the other);
~ low back stretch, incorporating thumbs or knuckles into a low back self massage;
~ wrist circles;
~ elbow circles;
~ shoulder rolls;
~ shrugs with deep releases;
~ hip circles;
~ knee circles;
~ ankle circles;
~ ankle raises (stretching up onto toes);
~ rooster stands on one leg (balance challenge);
~ Chi energy massage;
~ Tai Chi opening;
~ Tai Chi opening extended;
~ right/left Tai Chi opening;
~ pulling up the earth (a breathing flow);
~ pulling down the heavens (opposing breathing flow);
~ centering.

Personal thoughts: I received this DVD as part of the “Get It All” package and had every intention of trying it once then donating it to the library or Senior Center. On our first cold snap of the year in New England, I woke up very stiff and decided that was a senior enough moment to give it a whirl. With a steaming cup of green tea nearby, the standing routine turned out to be a perfect transition from cold bed to the rest of my active day. The various Chi massages and openings, a series of knockings and tappings on the body, and light massages of the throat, face, scalp and ears, were a delightful little treat and gave my self-worth a boost to set the tone of the morning. Yes, I am deserving of a little pampering! I tried the modified version the second time, incorporating my stability ball instead of the chair that Karen demonstrates on. I’m not sure that the Great Masters of Qi Gong intended for these exercises to be done on a Kelly green inflated rubber sphere, but it is great fun and enhances opening (if you are very familiar with stability ball exercise and your own balance abilities).

I recommend this Qi Gong program for anyone. It is inherently gentle and simple to follow, and modifications are shown for someone dealing with lower body mobility or balance issues. This video is labeled “for seniors” but I think any Qi Gong lover, or person dealing with arthritis, a cranky spine or stress issues will find benefit from it. I've used it over half dozen times now - this DVD is going to no Senior Center, it’s staying with my collection.

Instructor Comments:
Instructor comments: Lee has a calm, friendly and down-to-earth demeanor. Karen Holden is in excellent physical condition – a veritable Prevention magazine cover model. They are the poster children of Qi Gong!