Lifelong Learning yoga classes promote health and camaraderie

Dec 13, 2023Neesha Hosein
Dr. Janice Sullivan
Dr. Janice Sullivan

Dr. Janice Sullivan, San Jacinto College dean of community engagement, continuing and professional development, teaches Gentle Yoga-Qi Gong and Qi Gong Flow for Balance and Strength in the lifelong learning wellness program at the Central Campus. She believes qi gong can be life changing. 

“Qi gong is a system of coordinated body postures, movements, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health and overall wellness,” Sullivan said. “It is similar to tai chi. Numerous studies have proven the remarkable benefits of qi gong.” 

Sharing the wealth

“I have been practicing qi gong regularly since 2015 and wanted to share it with anyone who may benefit from this beautiful practice,” Sullivan said. “For that reason, I enrolled in a qi gong teaching certification with Lee Holden in California.” 

Sullivan also took part in a research program conducted by Harvard University and Texas Woman’s University. Harvard instructors and researchers provided training focused on the benefits of qi gong for caregivers. She felt fortunate for the training as she was the caregiver to her terminally ill husband at the time. 

Since 2018, Sullivan has been teaching qi gong at local community senior centers and taught in a program called Let’s Qi Gong, which was part of the College’s former employee wellness program. 

Her new qi gong classes are offered through continuing and professional development open enrollment. The program offers a variety of other classes, including gentle yoga, therapeutic yoga, tai chi, and others, led by community instructors. 

SmileySullivan says, with age, the body and mind change, and she believes her student Lorraine Smiley is a model of wellness proactivity.

“Lorraine remains active physically and mentally,” Sullivan said. “She comes to class ready, invests her time wisely, and makes good friends in the process. She knows that eating healthy and keeping an active lifestyle will bring her many years of strength and happiness.” 

Student perspective

Smiley discovered the yoga classes after browsing through a San Jac publication she received in the mail.

“When you’re retired, you need to find things to do. Otherwise, you just sit around, and I don’t like to sit around,” Smiley said. “I liked the idea of a continuing education kind of thing — not degree specific but something to help me improve myself. I took a yoga class at San Jac last year and enjoyed it very much because it keeps me moving.”

When Sullivan suggested qi gong, Smiley decided to give it a shot and signed up for Gentle Yoga – Qi Gong Fusion one day a week from 6-7 p.m.

“The schedule is good, and it helps wind down the day,” Smiley said. “After I’ve taken this class, I come home feeling very relaxed, and I sleep well at night. I also like that it’s something I can do at home and doesn’t require special equipment.”

Aside from learning and performing the movements, Smiley also appreciates the friendly atmosphere of the group.

“It’s nice that people can take this class seriously and still laugh along the way,” she said. “I would definitely recommend the qi gong class to others because the more, the merrier. It’s comforting to know that others are experiencing the same soreness. You don’t feel like you’re all alone. Doing the exercise by yourself is good, but having others there inspires camaraderie.”

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