Last weekend I visited a bubble of calmness floating high above the noisy hustle and bustle of Regent Street – Qi Wellness Centre. I went in a fatigued, frustrated soul and came out completely refreshed…
Saturday morning I had a bit of a nightmare – my train was cancelled, and the second delayed. I took the tube, and missed my stop. By the time I rolled up to Qi Wellness Centre, who had invited me to their open day, I was a bedraggled mess, wet through and late to my induction.
Yet even upon entry, I knew that I was holding onto unnecessary emotion – the soft lighting, calming scent and beautifully clean entry hall convinced me of that before I had even taken off my shoes and was shown into the introductory talk to Qi.
You may be wondering what exactly Qi is – and so was I on first hearing about it. Qi (pronounced ‘key’) is another variant on ‘chi’, the important life force that flows through us from the yin and yang energy from nature and beyond. While I’m in no way a spiritual expert, I can completely appreciate this concept of balancing forces, and the uneven, urban lifestyles we lead bringing discomfort both mentally and physically.
Throughout the course of the day, with my fellow beginners, we took part in a number of activities that connected us to our bodies and minds. After the introductory talk under the gaze of the protective glass eyes on either end of the room, we took part in chanting, then moving to warm-up exercises similar to sun salutations while remaining stood, as well as hip openers before taking to our floor cushions. Sat simply in the quiet, hum-free meditation room was really quite refreshing – it’s hard to find a place that quiet in London, even in your own home.
It was there that we were invited to practice pranayama, or alternate nostril breathing, and then to meditate, with softly-spoken instructions from Leanne, a practitioner at the centre. I began with visualising energy flowing from the tip top of the head to the toes, a similar practice I’ve tried when meditating previously, and the snippet of time flew by! The golden light I had been focused on turned to easing the slight aches and pains in my body until I was truly comfortable, and truly still. Lifting my eyelids upon 15 minutes, I was surprised to see how quickly I had sunk into the calmer places in my mind – the morning’s frustration was completely forgotten.
After this, we were told about the at-home practices offered by the centre – the place is so pristine, yet I hadn’t noticed the only piece of technology in the place, a camera discretely positioned on the ceiling so as to permit joining sessions from home. If you’re unable to visit the place itself, it may be worth logging on to enjoy the tranquility that the centre exudes through its practices.
To finish the day, we were each scheduled in for a treatment. While nibbling on the hummus and nuts provided as refreshment, I took to reading a review framed near the entrance, which mentioned something to do with odd massages and burping, so I did feel a little anxiety return. But when Alex, my treatment practitioner, took me to a room, again I felt at ease, laying back on a massage table without any embarrassment at having her hands read my body. She massaged my torso through my clothes, exhaling in a strange, methodic way, discovering the tightness in my abdomen from a tough week at work, the pain under my right shoulder blade from poor posture, and finally the excess emotion I had been carrying. By the end of the session I genuinely felt lighter, and I told her this while wiping away a few tears that I couldn’t fathom! It was an odd experience, but she said the exact same thing had happened to her the first time she was treated too.
I left shortly after, a-glow from the time I had spent there, with a somewhat deeper understanding of the way my body works, storing emotion in an almost physical way within my body, as well as the true necessity of meditation. I promised to return again soon, and I know that I’ll feel just as good the second time round too.