The class started with a big stretch.
As attendees followed qigong instructor Vince Galloni, from Charleroi, through a warm-up – gently bouncing, slapping his head and massaging his neck – a calm pervaded the exercise room inside the community center from Bethel Park.
“It connects you to your heart energy,” Galloni said, bringing her hands to her heart. “We have done our physical preparation. Let’s do some mental preparation.”
Melodie Becker and Kris Welsh, both of Bethel Park, silently expressed their intentions for their mid-morning workout. The intention can be anything, Galloni told qigong students: to reduce pain, to fight depression, to connect with a loved one.
“Anything personal to you that you practice today, say it clearly in your mind. Then drop it,” Galloni said.
Qigong (pronounced like chi gong) is letting go and letting go. During the session, Galloni guides participants through the five elements.
“Every move has a corresponding emotion. Happiness neutralizes anger,” Galloni said. “Anger has been shown to…have an impact on your liver. So if you’re having happy thoughts while you’re doing these moves, and you’ve been angry, that alleviates that.
Galloni learned the benefits of qigong firsthand over a decade ago, while searching for a way to stay active after sustaining an injury while boxing.
“I started taking tai chi,” Galloni said, adding that tai chi warm-ups are often qigong moves. “I think this qigong does me so much good. I’ll find out.”
After studying the hundreds of qigong variations, Galloni settled on Spirit Forest Qigong, developed by Master Chunyi Lin.
“Qigong is breathing with movement. Breathing helps your parasympathetic nervous system, which calms you down and helps manage stress,” Galloni said. “Movement helps to facilitate – and this is traditional Chinese medicine – ‘qi.’
Qigong promotes stress reduction and flexibility, and although it’s sometimes called “energy healing,” Galloni said it’s a great addition to Western medicine, not a substitute for it. this one.
“If you break your leg, you’re not going to heal that with qigong,” he said. “But it’s good for your health.”
Galloni has followed qigong while traveling the world during his career and credits the practice with keeping his feet on the ground.
“I feel like it helped me so much that I want to spread the word,” he said.
After receiving his qigong certification and retiring from his banking career, Galloni contacted Bethel Park recreation director Chuck Stover to add the practice to the community activities schedule.
Four-week sessions were offered last spring and again in June and July, and will resume after Labor Day. Galloni will lead qigong on Mondays at 11 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6 p.m.
Interested parties are encouraged to register at the Bethel Park Community Center.
“I still feel 10,000 times better. Calmer. That’s probably the main thing,” Becker said. “When things are happening subtly, you don’t always give him the credit. I feel so much better… when I leave.”
Welsh also enjoyed Galloni’s qigong lessons.
“I think it helps you focus and relax,” she said.