Meet Bob Shapiro: Mover of Chi

Bob Shapiro teaches Qigong (pronounced chee – kung) at Unity Care NW in Bellingham every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. The Behavior Health sponsored program has been available now for four years in conjunction with the center’s pain clinic.

Bob Shapiro uses humor in his teaching of Qigong. Photo credit: Karen Hanrahan.

Unity NW offers a variety of wellness programs. Their Behavior Health groups provide a safe environment to work through symptoms, decrease isolation and provide support. Chronic Pain Groups are where patients can discover better ways to manage pain, learn about relaxation and participate in movement therapies such as Qigong.

Qigong means working with chi (pronounced chee) and managing the life force we all have. Chi is a fundamental element of the Chinese culture and figures in meditation, martial arts and medicine. Chi can be cultivated purposefully to manage our well being, using specific movement, breath and intention. Qigong instruction utilizes already existing inner chi resources.

There are three states of chi – harmonious, deficient and stagnant. When chi is in harmony a person is generally in good health. The value of chi cultivation in this state is to maintain and enhance that health, and to prevent disease. When someone has a chi deficiency, there are techniques to rebuild and re-circulate an ample supply. For those who have blocked or toxic chi, managing chi can break through stagnation and regain inner flow.

Bob Shapiro teaches Qigong in his socks. Photo credit: Karen Hanrahan.

Bob, 69, met his wife, Marianne, on a hiking trip. The couple now lives in Bow, Washington. Together they offer “Rehearsals For Living” workshops combining her therapy and his community organizing work. Originally from Chicago, Bob studied in independent learning programs, as there was no way to source one degree from one department. “I wanted to do what I wanted to do,” Bob said. He landed west at the end of his wandering years and spent a decade working as a community organizer in Seattle. The couple also ran Llama-assisted hiking trips for more than 25 years. With the recent death of their last two Llamas, that business is now officially retired.

I met Bob when taking his class. I value movement for my well-being, yet am challenged with a history of chronic pain from multiple car accidents. I’ve taken Tai chi classes before and found them very helpful. I was grateful to find a class in this area.

Bob Shapiro’s colorful embroidered t-shirt is adorned with dragons. Photo credit: Karen Hanrahan.

Bob is low key. His instruction is thoughtful, kind and encouraging and he’s seriously funny. I love the fluidity of Qigong, the harnessing of my personal energy, and I marvel at what I can only describe as a collective energy in the room. I like being a part of that. It’s a positive, pro-active hour of my time. I appreciate the respectful quiet of it.

Donna, another student in class, shared that taking Bob’s class has made a big difference in her mental and physical health. It has helped her vertigo and pinched nerves in her neck, shoulder and hip. The meditation has helped her anxiety.

Nancy, who does Qigong in a wheelchair said, “Bob understands health care. He communicates with his participants clearly. He does this gracefully, professionally and with humor. His skills reflect his talent. I admire him a lot. My health has improved dramatically. Bob is an asset to Qigong and to Unity Care.”

“I look forward to being at every class,” said Mike, another participant. “It helps me physically, emotionally and spiritually in becoming a better me. Instead of feeling like a wounded victim, I feel empowered. I know that we all can be healed in some manner by this Qigong experience. It is something energetic, mystic, cosmic and grounding. It keeps me hopeful, inspired to be a kinder, non-judging being. I have been truly transformed by this class.”

Bob’s classes at Unity Care NW are beloved by his students. Photo credit: Karen Hanrahan.

There are thousands of forms of Qigong. Bob’s form is called Bow 52. Bob has been teaching in the Mount Vernon area for 15 years and offers private advanced instruction in his home studio. Details about additional classes and a vast resource/reference library can found at his website.

Everyone can benefit from Qigong. Come experience for yourself the benefits of this ancient healing practice.

Connect with Bob by visiting his website, vial email or by calling 360-757-4212.

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