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Ancient healing art Qi Gong taught weekly in downtown park

Emily Rogers leads Qi Gong practice in Lafayette Greens’ garden  COURTESY IMAGE

Emily Rogers leads Qi Gong practice in Lafayette Greens’ garden COURTESY IMAGE

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Eighteen years ago, Emily Rogers walked into her doctor’s office in Atlanta, Ga., for back pain that nearly disabled her. Rather than commit to surgery or a dependence on pain killers, the doctor taught her about Qi Gong (pronounced chee-gung) and allowed her to experience the body’s natural healing ability.

“By the time I would leave his office, I would feel invigorated, just great,” Rogers told The Michigan Citizen. “My doctor constantly told me about peace, just being still, peaceful, and he promoted love, love all the time. So I held onto that.”

Thus began her pursuit of Qi Gong, knowing her healing was in part indebted to an art form of movement and breathing that began in ancient China at least 5,000 ago. Every Tuesday, weather permitting, at 5:30 p.m. in the garden at Lafayette Greens in downtown Detroit, Rogers teaches Qi Gong for a suggested donation of $5, the sessions last 30-40 minutes.

Qi Gong is a practice of self-healing; the movements use the breath as the focal point. Rogers teaches Spring Forest Qi Gong, a style taught around the world adapted for a modern lifestyle.

“There are four elements that are very important,” says Rogers, who credits Qi Gong as helping her heal from two recent bouts of breast cancer, her first diagnosis in 2006. “We do Spring Forest to music, which relaxes us even more. When we move, we move every joint in our bodies. We visualize. Visualization is extremely important in Spring Forest Qi Gong, because your thoughts create certain impressions on your body — healing impressions, all kinds of impressions.

“And we do deep breathing. Deep, deep breathing at all times,” she said. “It allows for more endurance when you’re doing things — you can run faster, walk faster — it relaxes your body, it allows oxygen to get to different organs of your body and especially your blood stream. Deep breathing is just invaluable.”

The fluid movements are rhythmic. An inhale begins a motion where arms may extend out, raise up or roll to a standing position by full inhale. By the end of the exhale, the body may have been held in a stance or the motion continued in rotation. The next breath cycle begins, and the movements move through a simple routine easy to remember and adapt within one’s daily life.

Benefits include cardiovascular (heart) health, improved metabolism, balancing of sex hormone levels, increased bone density, slowing of the aging process, joint lubrication and relief for the nervous system, producing feelings of contentment.

Rogers began teaching Qi Gong in Louisiana, her home state, to homeless and abused women in shelters as a way to ease their depression. She knew from her own life the dangers of stress and negative thought and how this practice works to create balance.

In addition to Qi Gong, her daily discipline to remain cancer free includes a raw diet with fresh fruit and vegetable juice, proper water intake, exercise, sunshine and fresh air, and thoughts of gratitude.

“The exercises are simple, but they are very powerful,” said Rogers about Qi Gong. “And you can feel the energy.”

Lafayette Greens is located at W. Lafayette and Shelby in downtown Detroit. For more information, contact Emily Rogers at

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