Tai QigongAt Perry Wellness Center, a variety of groups are scheduled to provide information, education, and practice in various life skills. Many of these groups focus on health and wellness, as befitting a recovery center founded on the principles of whole mind/body wellness.

Certified peer specialist Ric Vogt is one group leader who takes a leadership role in teaching activities that promote the mental and physical wellness of peers. One of her favorite activities to teach individuals is the practice of Tai Qigong.

She explains, “Qigong is the term for not just one, but many times of gentle movements and concentration practices stemming from China. Some experts believe that there are more than 3,000 different styles of qigong in existence today.” 

Vogt appreciates the demonstrated benefits to seniors and those suffering from severe stress, saying: “Tai chi and other forms of qigong are one of the secrets of people living in the Blue Zones, a culture where senior citizens are thriving. Today, holistic practitioners promote qigong for its proven stress-reducing benefits, plus its ability to improve flexibility and inner focus.”

During qigong groups, peer participants are required to stand and attempt to achieve full mobility and concentration. To date, seven of the 18 movements in the practice of Tai Qigong have been introduced to the peer group. One current focus is on diaphragmatic breathing.

“It is vital that we teach diaphragm and deeper breathing,” Vogt notes. “Many of us do not know the correct way to breathe. Today, I coined a new term: ‘Belly Breathe Baby.’”

Peers enjoy participating in the group, which is both upbeat and serious – serious about the importance of good health practices for individuals with mental illness or substance abuse problems. 

In the photo, several peers join Ric Vogt, center, in gentle and stress-reducing Tai Qigong movements.

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