ENCINITAS — A rising sun kisses the palms and grass in the meditation area of the Indigo Dragon Center in Leucadia. Droplets of water from a nearby fountain accentuates the monastery-like serenity of the place.
On the grass, Peter Oberg and six other people stand, knees slightly bent, arms slowly moving skyward, minds clear. Oberg calmly encourages the people, his students, to “draw from the wealth of resources available for you to gather from.”
Oberg teaches Qigong, a Chinese meditation practice that helps practitioners harness and balance “qi” or the life force and energy the Chinese believe permeates all walks of life, and utilizing it for self-healing and enlightenment.
Think of it as tai chi’s grandfather, said Oberg, a well-known luthier and musician who began studying Qigong 10 years ago, and began teaching the course June 2.
The practice is lesser known than tai chi, but has been slowly gathering a following nationally over the past decade.
“It is a tremendous way to get rid of stress, lower blood pressure and balance oneself,” Oberg said. “The benefits are just endless.”
Oberg said he started practicing Qigong after growing weary of the isolated lifestyle of a guitar maker.
He said he studied under several of the country’s foremost practitioners.
“I was looking for a discipline that would allow me to be out more,” Oberg said. “I was a single person locked up in my shop, which led me on this mission of what I was going to do next.”
Jennifer Fritschy is one of the owners of Indigo Dragon, a local acupuncture and massage center that is heavily influenced by Eastern medicine. She said having a Qigong course was a perfect fit for the business.
“It kind of goes hand in hand with what we do here,” said Fritschy, who also participated in the class. “It helps you escape the business.”
Eric Rehnke, 67, was one of the five students at Indigo Dragon on Thursday morning.
He’s attended six of Oberg’s courses since they started last month.
He said he studied tai chi and other forms of meditation, but found it difficult to remember some of the techniques and moves.
Qigong, he said, is easy to remember and provides the same type of calm.
“It pulls me into a very peaceful place,” Rehnke said. “And I feel the connection to nature in my own body.”
Oberg teaches at Indigo Dragon from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. He plans on teaching the course through the fall, when he will then begin teaching a course with the city of San Marcos.