Instructor Spotlight: Kathi Diamant

From the first time you meet Kathi Diamant (or see her on KPBS TV) her sparkling eyes alert you to her intelligence and vibrant energy. That energy further manifests in an apparent and tangible eternal youthfulness. As Franz Kafka stated, “Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”

Come to her Qigong class on Wednesdays at 9am to try this wonderfully vibrant practice. Check out our full class schedule here.

photo credit: Simpatika

1. Let’s start with the basics, what is Qigong?

Qigong translates as “energy” (qi or chi) and “work” (gong), but I prefer to think of it as “energy play.” It has been used for centuries as an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, prescribed both for the prevention and cure of chronic illnesses. Comprised of flowing movements designed to balance both hemispheres of the brain, Qigong is exercise that works from the inside out.

It truly is a practice available for everyone, at any age. It can be practiced sitting or standing, and no prior experience is required. We learn three things in Qigong: balance, letting go, and feeling our own energy. Through Qigong, we learn to differentiate between the Yin and Yang energy flowing in the body, and to integrate mind and body in a moving meditation.

2. What first attracted you to Qigong when you began your practice?

I took a Qigong class through the YMCA and I loved the experience of relaxation and focus at the same time. It was a perfect complement to my yoga practice, but also a different sort of workout. In Qigong, there is no effort, no force, you build strength and balance through letting go.

My real practice began in January 2000 when I started lessons in Tai Chi with Henry Cheng, a Fifth Generation Master in Wu-Style Tai Chi Chu’an at the YMCA Mind-Body Center. Master Henry specializes in developing, cultivating and increasing one’s own energy. Qigong is the concept, or idea, behind Tai Chi which is known as a form of Qigong.

Kathi Diamant by Simpatika3. What is your favorite place or time of day to practice?

My favorite places are outside, especially near old trees, which intensify the feeling of energy. But my absolute favorite is on the beach, at sunset. Sunrise is good, too, but it happens far less often!

4. What’s the most challenging aspect for you?

Focusing my mind. While my body has gotten much stronger and healthier, focusing my mind on my breath and movement is the real trick. New studies have shown that thinking about what you intend to think about produces higher levels of happiness, satisfaction and peacefulness. So the mind aspect of this mind/body exercise is the most challenging.

5. If you were an animal, you would be: a dolphin, definitely.

6. Describe what Qi Gong means in your life using just 6 words: playing with energy keeps me healthy.

7. What might your students be surprised to learn about you?

I have written a biography entitled “Kafka’s Last Love” which has been translated and published in ten countries, and since 1998 I have been the director of the Kafka Project at SDSU, where I lead the international search for Franz Kafka’s literary treasure, stolen by the Gestapo in 1933.

8. Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for new students?

By practicing Qigong, you can improve your health, your happiness, and the quality of your longevity. Without effort, without force, and without any special equipment!

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