Qi Gong Deepens Connection with Chinese Courses

By Sarah Senese ’23

In Professor Tamara Bentley’s Block 4 Art of China class, physical art isn’t the only aspect of the culture students explore. Bentley invites Mauro Saachi, who’s trained in the art of qi gong (movement meditation), to teach workshops to students each fall.

Qi gong, a traditional Chinese movement exercise and spiritual practice, allows for students to both better their understanding of the cultures they study and also interact directly with their learning. Bentley, who usually partners with Professor Hong Jiang in these workshops, says that qi gong workshops help their students “not only academically, but in kinesthetic ways.” Here, Bentley’s class, Jiang’s class, and Professor Christian Sorace’s political science class “Power and Everyday Life” converged in the Cossitt dance space to learn the Chinese art of Qigong.

In Bentley’s Art of China class, there’s a lot to learn about qi, which is often portrayed in visual art, the primary focus of students’ studies, through flowing lines. In Jiang’s Chinese language class, culture is also taught to give students a background on the language, connecting her class as well to the ancient physical practice of qi gong.

Students Zoey Zhou ’20 and Carter Norfleet ’22, who participated in the session with Saachi, share how the experience translated to the class and their general knowledge of qi gong and the Chinese culture surrounding it. “It was a very relaxing and mindful experience. I found qi gong very meditative in terms of its emphasis on the connection to earth and air around us. It is rare for us to pay such close attention to nature as we live in such a fast-moving world,” says Zhou. Norfleet notes that over the course of the block, he found it “interesting to compare lessons from ancient China with this qi gong experience.”

Bentley and Jiang take pride in the benefits qi gong practices have instilled in their students each fall. “[Qi gong] helps our students nurture the energy in their bodies even when they are under a lot of work or school pressure,” says Bentley, who hopes that Saachi’s workshops continue for students in blocks to come.

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