October was been a truly exciting month for the team at Thortify! The much anticipated release of the first of the three workbooks took place on Monday 10th – to coincide with World Mental Health Day. The response in the first twenty-four hours was overwhelming, and wonderful in equal amounts. And now January is here, the second of our trio of workbooks, the Reflective Journal, has also now been  just in time for the slow season, where many of us tend to contemplate the past year as we transition into the new one.

The feedback we have received to date on the Grounding Workbook has been incredibly encouraging.

‘The workbook is accessible and fun, with easy activities which are tempting and creative, presented in playful style – I love and will be using it’.

‘I’m enjoying the Ground Yourself Workbook – so many ideas to think about and put into practice. I have much difficult, emotional stuff to process at the moment so the workbook couldn’t have come at a better time.’

‘Spending time mindfully making art is so relaxing and offers a place of sanctuary.’

For both workbooks, you can choose to download the whole booklet, or just the worksheets to save on paper and ink. Of course you can simply view on line and work in a notebook or on paper if you would rather.

Meanwhile, out in our Beeston community we have many brilliant opportunities for keeping balanced in a variety of interesting ways. You might recall we spoke to the ebullient Amy Gill of Circle Power Academy in the last issue, and she has returned to our festive edition to bring some calm among the Christmas chaos. 

For this publication I have been chatting to Caroline Challender a Qi Gong practitioner who has recently begun sessions at The Pearson Centre. Caroline tell me that Qi Gong (‘Qi’ meaning breath or air, ‘Gong’ meaning work or effort) is an ancient form of exercise originating in China. Although it has the same roots as the more well known Tai Chi, it focuses more on cultivating energy than mastering specific sequences and precise movements. This means it is simpler and more accessible for beginners.

Caroline runs themed classes which are different every time. She may choose to concentrate on a flow to promote seasonal energy, aligning the body with the earth’s natural movements, or a particular common ailment like lower back pain or joint pain. Each session will begin with breathwork and stretching, as well as incorporating exercises to release stale energy from the body and activate the Qi. Once the energy has been accessed, flowing movements follow, which are designed to circulate this energy around the body. Sessions end with a meditation to ensure participants are fully grounded and rebalanced.

And it really does have a positive impact on people! Caroline tells me of one gentleman that told her after a class, “that was the first time this week that I haven’t been in my head.” Powerful words, and testament how we all might be finding it difficult to find headspace in an ever-increasingly ‘switched-on’ world. If you have tried meditation through yoga but the poses are a little too unattainable for you, then you might just find that Qi Gong allows you to create the same kind of peace in your mind, without overstraining yourself. Flows are gentle and you generally stand, or sit if you need to, whilst moving the arms. Despite the gentle approach, Caroline highlights the powerful effect on our internal energies, which supports healing, revitalises the body and calms the mind. 

Caroline combines her expertise to help participants regain equilibrium. She trained as a Qi Gong teacher during the first lockdown. The course was completely online and she qualified as a practitioner in December 2021, setting up as a teacher in January 2022. Having delivered sessions in various settings, her back garden during the summer months being one of these, Caroline found the dance studio at The Pearson Centre tucked away at the back and feels that it is an ideal all year round space. 

Sessions are currently running on Friday afternoons from 4:30pm – 5:30pm – the perfect way to end a busy week, don’t you think!? Caroline is also considering introducing a lunchtime session on that day and two hour workshops on Saturday mornings, so keep an eye out for updates on her socials. Longer workshop based sessions would allow for more social time and discussion after the exercises.

Caroline is also a licensed acupuncturist and outlines the benefits of Qi Gong to everyone coming for treatment ‘It is easy to do at home and even a few minutes of Qi Gong every day can help to relieve many common ailments. People who practise Qi Gong alongside their acupuncture tend to get better quicker  – it is very empowering!’

Sounds like an excellent approach to self care to us at Team Thortify!

You can contact Caroline via her website www.carolinechallenderwellbeing.co.uk

And follow her on Facebook as ‘Qi Gong for Wellbeing’.