I’m really excited to have a new Qigong teacher joining the Jules Pilates teaching team at the Atwood Avenue location. Scott Martin is a super nice guy and very easy to be around. He has so much knowledge to share with us! I asked him a bunch of questions to help you all start to get to know him.
1) What are some of the benefits of a Qigong practice?
There are many benefits associated with a regular Qigong practice. Some of the physical benefits include improved strength, flexibility, and balance, along with the relief of minor aches and pains. On the mental and emotional level, Qigong helps one develop a state of calm alertness- a feeling of deep stillness amidst the sometimes chaotic movement of life. For some, Qigong is a spiritual practice as well, though I don’t promote any specific spiritual tradition. Regardless, many practitioners develop a deeper sense of connection to the world around them.
2) How did you start your own practice?
Qigong has been part of my life for a long time. I suppose I was actually introduced to the concept of Qi through my practice of yoga in my early twenties. Once I got a feel for Qi I was hooked- I knew this was something I could pursue for a lifetime and never uncover all its mysteries. Qigong classes were pretty much nonexistent in the small town where I was living. When I moved to Milwaukee in 2000, I began practicing with several different teachers of Qigong and Tai chi, incorporating elements from each of them into my practice. Eventually my fascination with Qi led me to enroll in acupuncture school, where I continued to study Qigong in the context of the eight branches of Chinese medicine.
3) What other activities do you like to do?
In addition to my Qigong practice, I’m interested in movement of all kinds. Over the last few years I’ve enjoyed training with progressive calisthenics, and I still enjoy asana practice when I get a chance. In a previous life I was a printmaker and painter, and I still enjoy art of all kinds, though I only paint sporadically lately. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a tea fanatic as well, so when I have a moment I’m often preparing something nice to drink.
4) Would you tell us a little bit about your family?
My wife Amber and I have two young daughters, Clara and Stasha. They’re three and a half and a year old, respectively. They’re wonderful beyond words. They’ve taught me so many things in such a short time, not least of which is the value of being flexible, a skill any Qi practitioner needs to cultivate.
5) Can people practice Qigong with arthritis in their knees?
Absolutely. I had a teacher who often said, “If you can breathe, you can do Qigong.” In Qigong practice there’s no competition whatsoever- we always want to work within a comfortable range of motion for our own body. With practice, some may even find relief from joint pain. In class I emphasize standing postures, but almost everything we do can be modified to be done from a seated position as well.
6) How often and how long should people practice in order to see benefits?
This is a great question. The benefits of Qigong are both immediate and cumulative – most people will feel better after leaving class than before they got there. But to really experience lasting change, a regular practice is necessary. My goal for leading classes is to inspire people to practice on their own and give them the tools to develop a personal practice that’s both safe and effective. I definitely recommend practicing a little each day, rather than a long time a couple days a week. For those just starting, even 10 or 15 minutes of focused practice a day will bring positive changes.