Plucking stars', 'fair lady works the shuttle' and 'repulse monkey'. These are some of the charming names used in qigong, a unique practice that combines movement, meditation and awareness of the breath.
Nicole Lee's Chi Space specialises in teaching the ancient Chinese art of qigong (pronounced 'chee goong') to Westerners. Her bright, airy studio - complete with cat Angelee - opened in February 2018 and she now offers a growing schedule of classes, workshops and special events for all levels, as well as accredited qigong teacher training.
Qigong is a Chinese healing practice that dates back 4000 years yet is highly relevant for today. It comprises a series of precise movements performed very slowly, with eyes downcast. Related to t'ai chi, qigong can be described as pure meditation, where t'ai chi has its origins in martial arts.
At Chi Space, Nicole teaches two of the five Classical qigong 'forms' (series), and also regular 'Integrative Qigong' classes, which offer an ever-changing potpourri of sequences from several forms.
These movements have the potential for healing both mind and body. A one-hour class will leave you energised yet calm, like a gentle gym workout without the frenetic music and endless 'reps'. There's even evidence that qigong, like t'ai chi, can provide a workout that's as good for you as Crossfit.
Calming the mind and calming the body allows healing. Strengthening the muscles through simple postures and movements prevents falls. Moving with flow and gentle weight bearing helps balance and can positively impact bone density. Achieving a relaxed state of the mind reduces stress.