Practising qi gong promotes positivity, wellness and a balance in life, says Mina Wolton, who offers classes in the ancient mind-body-spirit system at Wanstead House

My name is Mina and I have lived in Wanstead for nearly 25 years. I am a qi gong practitioner and have recently started teaching classes at Wanstead House Community centre.

I have always been interested in health and wellbeing and played sports all my life. However, ill health in my thirties led me to exploring complementary therapies, particularly qi gong. What they all had in common was working with a life force and being able to tap into that energy to energise, heal and create harmony within.

Qi gong, which was documented in China over 2,000 years ago, has become popular throughout the world for its many health-giving benefits. Qi (pronounced ‘chi’) is the Chinese word for life force or energy (also known as ‘ki’ or ‘prana’).

Nature is infused with qi, which is why when we are by the sea, near mountains, in forests, gardens or just looking at clouds floating in the sky, we experience qi at a deep level and feel the restorative power of that energy field in nature.

Gong (or ‘kung’) means ‘work’ or ‘effort’, so qi gong is the cultivation of that qi through practice and dedication and learning how to direct its energy. It consists of static and flowing movements, which are coordinated with breathing to circulate and direct qi around the meridians (energy pathways) of the body.

Just some of the many benefits of regular qi gong practice include relaxation, boosting the immune system, strengthening the body and a sense of wellbeing. The exercises are performed with a certain amount of tension but, paradoxically, in a relaxed way, and are suitable for all ages and all levels of fitness.

What I have discovered through my 20 years of learning qi gong under Sifu Ram, my qi gong master, is that it is incredibly empowering. I have learnt to take personal responsibility for my health.

You learn to emulate the crane (the animal that symbolises our style of qi gong), so we learn grace, strength and fluidity, which then becomes a metaphor for how to approach life.

In a small, confined space in around 15 to 20 minutes (as a required minimum) per day, you can do a series of exercises to promote a sense of positivity, wellness and balance in life.

Mina runs monthly qi gong taster sessions starting on the first Monday of the month at Wanstead House, 21 The Green, Wanstead (four sessions: £35). For more information and to book a place, call 07970 988 354 or email mpwolton@yahoo.co.uk