by Lee Holden Exercise to Heal, 2007 Review by Beth T. Cholette, Ph.D. on Apr 22nd 2008
This Qi Gong DVD from Exercise to Heal is part of a series of videos offered by Lee Holden, an instructor of both Qi Gong and Tai Chi who has appeared regularly on PBS. Qi Gong for Healthy Joints and Bones is designed to increase mobility in the joints, enhance flexibility throughout the body, and cultivate greater energy. Holden instructs via voiceover, providing mirrored cueing, and the workout is filmed outdoors in a tranquil pond setting.
The Main Menu of the DVD offers options for Play All, Introduction, Routines, Bonus Features, or How to Use this DVD. The Routines submenu also has an option to Play All; alternatively the viewer can choose from amongst the following individual body segments: Neck & Shoulders, Spine, Elbows, Wrists, Hips, Knees & Ankles, Bones, or Combination. In the workout, Holden begins with gentle stretches to open up the chest and upper body and allow freer breathing. Next, he slowly moves into slightly more intense stretching work for the spine, neck, and shoulders. Exercises such as "Knocking on the Door of Life" and "Turtle Neck" really help to create a nice sense of opening throughout the entire upper body region. (Note: Holden supplies names for only some of the 24 exercises, but the entire list is printed in the included DVD insert.) Gradually traveling down the body, Holden focuses on each area in turn, performing circles of the elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. After about 25 minutes of targeted work, Holden shakes out the entire body, building energy, and then he performs a few additional minutes of full-body stretches. The final portion of this 33.5 minute routine consists mainly of flowing arm movements combined with breathing; Holden asks the viewer to concentrate on drawing a golden light into the body and to notice the relaxation which results from this.
The Bonus Features of this DVD include a 23-minute interview with Holden in which he addresses topics such as Qi Gong and pain management, weight loss, stress, and yoga. There is also a section with onscreen Guidelines and Tips for practicing Qi Gong plus a short (4.5 minutes) Behind the Scenes Footage segment which includes both film and still footage from Holden's Qi Gong II series; these amusing little fragments come across much like a bloopers reel and are fun to watch.
Overall, I found this DVD to be an excellent means to gently increase blood flow to the entire body. I think that the practice would be appropriate for a wide audience, from those with more limited mobility to more regular exercisers wanting to ensure that their joints remain healthy and supple. No prior experience with Qi Gong is necessary to complete this routine, and I highly recommend it.