Teacher Feature - Jeri Hemerlein

What Is Qigong?

Qigong, at its core is an energy cultivation practice, which teaches how to feel, maintain and enhance your energy bodies while transforming your body, mind and spirit. Our energy field is measurable and quantifiable; we know it exists so the question becomes what to do with this knowledge. It is our responsibility to tend and maintain our energy fields, not unlike brushing our teeth or washing our hair. That's what Qigong is in a very simplistic and relatable context.

How long have you been teaching?

I've been teaching Qigong at the Yoga Center for 4 years. Previously, I had a private cranial sacral & chakra clearing practice. I almost always gave clients qigong forms as 'homework'. This was crucial to their healing. Practicing between appointments maintained and built upon the work we had accomplished together while advancing their self-healing ability.

Why do you love Qigong?

The beauty of Qigong is its power to maintain your health & improve your vitality, through an easy, simple approachable practice. It can be a short practice, yet very potent.

How did you get into Qigong?

After my youngest child was born, I became quite ill. My friend & midwife, was studying acupuncture at The Centre For Traditional Acupuncture, now the Maryland University of integrative Health. Part of the curriculum was learning Qigong. She suggested I give it a try. I was captivated and the rest is history. My first experience was there with Chan Zang. I continued studying with various teachers including Zhongxian Wu and most currently Nei Gong with Damo Mitchell. Among my certifications is Daisy Lee's, Radiant Lotus Women's Form. Our class has grown into a community of loving and supportive women who empower one another beyond class. We gather, revisiting the traditional sense of a women's circle while sharing our lives and creative projects over tea and Qi.

Tell us about your practice.

I've had a personal practice for around 25 years. Not always consistently, but my foundation was solid and as my practice grew becoming more continuous the time lapses in-between become shorter. That's not unusual with any personal home practice. You may have ebbs and flows while it becomes a home you can return to.

Why Should People Practice Qigong?

It's a gentle and subtle progression towards health with qigong but you'll soon begin to notice changes; deeper sleep, calmer nerves and emotions, increased flexibility, decreased chronic pain. A gentler and sweeter more grace filled way of navigating everyday existence.

Who are you outside of the studio?

At my core, I'm passionate about honeybees and the environment. Together with my husband, Dan, we teach Biodynamic-Treatment Free, Sustainable Beekeeping. We tend a small flock of chickens, an extensive apiary and garden with an emphasis on pollinator friendly plants. This encourages the resurgence of a strong local honeybee population, something that is integral to the preservation of our food supply and environment. I don't consider myself a beekeeper, rather an assistant to, for and with them. Part of this is found in the line of Nature Essences I create from the flowers the bees work. I have three grown children; in my former life I earned a BFA from Syracuse University, working as an Interior Designer in Manhattan.

Why has the Columbia Yoga Center felt like home?

I deeply appreciate teaching at the yoga center; I've had an intermittent yoga practice since college. The two, yoga and qigong are sister systems. In class I strive to show how the principles of qigong and yoga relate to each other. The two systems overlap beautifully. They both promote the flow of energy through the body, centering the mind, synching breath with physical movement, opening your heart & expanding your Self. The other YCC teachers understand and nurture this in their student, which gives an amazing foundation on which to play.

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