At National University, students in the massage therapy program not only learn how to take care of future clients, they also learn how to take care of themselves. Toward this goal, the required curriculum includes a participation class featuring Qi Gong.
Qi Gong is a Chinese system of breathing exercises, body postures and movements, combined with mental concentration and meditation. The techniques are used to maintain good health and control the flow of vital energy, or “qi”.
Students in the class learn Qi Gong relaxation techniques so that they can recharge their own energy and maintain wellness throughout their career. “I teach the MT students specific techniques to keep their hands healthy, how to manage emotions, keep themselves well,” says John Robertson who owns Seven Stars Martial Arts and has been teaching Tai Chi and Qi Gong at NUHS since 2005.
“I tell my students that Tai Chi and Qi Gong are the 401k plan for your health. It is what you do today that allows you to have health and wellness in your later years,” says Robertson.
Massage therapists must maintain a level of fitness without injury to continue thriving in this physically demanding profession. It can also be very easy for a therapist to find him or herself so invested in taking care of others, that they forget to take good care of themselves. That’s why it’s critical for massage therapists to develop self-care regimens such as yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi – and even remembering to get a massage themselves.
You’ll find John Robertson and his MT students doing Qi Gong outside when the weather is nice. Robertson also teaches at several local park districts, assisted living centers and in Alzheimer’s and dementia outpatient care programs.
“I think its awesome that self-care is a requirement at National University,” says Robertson, who also teaches Taichi in the acupuncture and oriental medicine degree programs. “It’s part of the old physician’s code ‘heal thyself.’ If you’re not well, then you’re not able to work to the best of your ability, or give your client the finest care.”