They come in all sizes, shapes and colors. They wear stretch pants, sweatsuits, jeans and yoga pants. It doesn’t matter if the parts or colors match as long as they are comfortable. The socks are the funniest part of all…I have never seen such a variety of goofy socks! They tend to chatter too much before class begins, but they eventually do settle down as our teacher begins the session.
This is my QiGong class which I started attending about two months ago. Because it is a late am class, it is filled completely with seniors like myself. I had imagined it differently, but what was I thinking? Of course…who else is available from 9:30 to 10:30 in the am on Fridays? I thought it would be so cool to learn an ancient Chinese form of combined exercise, breathing and meditation. It never occurred to me that it would also appeal to other Baby Boomers, but it makes sense. Boomers have led the curve in everything new that seniors only a generation ago would never have attempted.
Now, several months into the class, I am beginning to be more graceful and less exhausted by the practice session. At first, I had to be so attentive to these intricate hand and body movements that are designed to flow easily from one to the other to channel the chi energy flowing through our bodies that all my energy was spent on concentrating and trying to maintain the flow. Meanwhile, I am surrounded by those who are obviously in better shape than I am, but also others who are far worse off. A man who usually stands in the spot right next to me is not flexible enugh to get down on the floor. Others, like myself, struggle to get up from the floor. Some can use only one arm, because the other shoulder is locked in place. Some have knees that won’t allow them to bend or kneel in certain positions. My particular weakness is balance. I often seem to be one of the few who can’t maintain a one-leg standing position for more than 10-20 seconds before I awkwardly topple out of position.
For the most part, no one really watches anyone else because we are all too busy trying to assume the new position we are being taught, or trying to remember what comes next, or, like me, trying to keep from losing my balance. I have chosen to be here, in fact, because of this nonjudgmental feeling. We are all struggling with our own personal demons, physical and mental, and have come here to try to improve our own weaknesses. Today we began a new session, Part II, and the room had only half the number of people it had during session I. Some may have dropped out, some may be vacationing in warmer places…but I worry about the man who stood next to me. Is he ok? Did he drop out because there were so many things he was unable to do in the class? Or has he taken a turn for the worse? These are the kinds of concerns I have now. It’s not about the clothing, or the perfection of my form…it’s more about believing that this very ancient practice will help me and the other participants to become stronger and less stressed and, most importantly, healthier. And, for me it’s also about the socks!