This month we are honoring Allen as our Teacher of the Month! He has been offering his QiGong classes to the studio for a while now and students have really been loving them. He always shows up nice and early and practices QiGong for a bit himself to really set the mood of the space. As you will learn from his interview, we are so lucky to have such a knowledgeable teacher here sharing their passion. He has studied from many amazing teachers over the years.
What inspired you to become a Qigong instructor?
I was born with a birth defect. It was corrected surgically but still affected my left ankle flexibility and caused occasional back pain.
At age 13 a chiropractor suggested me that Yoga might improve the problems that I was experiencing in my back and foot. So I started studying Yoga, first from a book and later with Swami Vishnudevananda. I found that it improved my body alignment and posture giving relief from pain. I later found masters and studied Tai Chi and Qi Gong to improved my balance and further connect me to the earth’s and heaven’s energies.
Combining both practices made my life pain-free life and gave me tools to heal myself from occasional athletic injuries from basketball and volleyball. Since daily sessions kept me feeling good, I began to try to integrate teaching Qigong and Yoga as a profession that would allow me to make a living doing what I loved. This would also allow me to share my knowledge to help others to heal themselves, improve their health, and their ability to enjoy life. Maybe doing good and receiving a reasonable payment could be combined. (Very few people were doing that in 1976)
I started teaching Adult Education classes in the evenings and eventually opened The Body Shop, a Yoga, Tai Chi and Massage Studio. Later I built upon this success and opened The Fitness Center of East Hampton so I could reach and teach more people. I was lucky that I happened to attract the attention of the media and some influential people, so I was featured in a 4-page article in Self Magazine, appeared on the television show 60 Minutes and my private lesson schedule quickly filled. – All from simply pursuing my dream and following my bliss! I am thankful for my successes.
How did you find Asheville Community Yoga?
I had been living in Asheville for 14 years and rather than teach, I decided to take time off to go deeper in my studies of Qigong. I found Masters and teachers that had skills and techniques or forms that attracted me and sometimes traveled great distances to study with them. I wanted to expand my knowledge and become a student again to remind me of the learning process that people attending my classes were experiencing. After approximately 5 years of this added learning and practice, I felt that I was once again ready to share my knowledge by teaching. My 23 years of experience with different forms and input from several Masters rather than one, gave me a unique perspective and afforded me different ways to explain Qigong to address the different ways that individuals learn.
So I took the liberty of sending an email to Michael G. and explained my background and expressed an interest in teaching Qigong, not even knowing if it was taught at Asheville Community Yoga. Within less than 3 weeks, my class was on the schedule, and I’ve been fortunate to attract students.
What is the most rewarding part of teaching?
Wow, that’s an interesting question.
I guess the most rewarding part is watching my students as they feel Qi (life-force energy) for the first time. The smile forms, the relaxation that ensues. They may have come into the class with no experience in Qigong and maybe not even knowing what it is, but within the first minutes of the class, they FEEL it. Feeling energy may have been something that they have heard about. Or maybe it’s a skill that they have attributed only to gifted healers, therapists, acupuncturists and such. But once they have physically felt the energy by a movement that they themselves performed, it is something special that can never be forgotten. They realize that this energy/Qi/Prana that they’ve been hearing about is REAL. It is TANGIBLE, and best of all REPEATABLE. So they can reap the benefits any time they practice.
We’ve all heard or read words of wisdom from a Master, Yogi, Teacher or Lecturer. We may be changed by that knowledge, but if they are only ‘word lessons’
they may fade with time. But once we FEEL, EXPERIENCE, and PRACTICE something, it becomes part of us. It is a WORLD lesson rather than a Word Lesson and cannot fade. My mission and reason for teaching is to share the knowledge and skills necessary so the student can become self sufficient if they cannot attend a class.
I welcome people of all levels and physical abilities to my classes. Some come needing canes to walk, and some need chairs because they cannot stand for too long. All benefit and progress at their own speed.
Allen took the liberty of adding his own question which we love!
You can join Allen on Mondays from 5:30-6:30 for his QiGong class or sign up for his series class titled QiGong: The Eight Brocades. This series begins on Thursday, August 3rd from 6:00-7:30pm and meets every Thursday for the remainder of August. You can attend all four classes for $40, or just drop in for one at $15.
Thank you, Allen for sharing about your practice and passion for QiGong. We are so grateful to have such an enthusiastic teacher sharing his knowledge with others!