For nearly three decades Linda Burquez, a Napa Valley native, has helped improve the strength, health and well-being of her clients. Through a collection of ancient and modern techniques, she is able to create personalized programs aimed at revitalization and healing. Among her specialties is the Chinese practice of qigong.

“Qigong uses slow and pleasant movements to promote a healthy flow of energy in the body,” Burquez said. “It helps the nervous system to relax, the body to heal, the mind to think more clearly and the soul to laugh more often.”

When she was growing up in St. Helena, her father, Herb (who recently died), was a beloved coach at the local high school. Her mother, Gary, was a practitioner of yoga and meditation, so maintaining a healthy mind and body had only been part of her upbringing.

“My dad taught me the importance of maintaining a strong body and how to move like sneakers,” she said, “and my mom taught me the importance of being agile and how to concentrate. The combination was great and only later in life did I realize how their emphasis helped shape my path. ”

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Changing plans

After graduating from high school, Burquez headed north to attend college in Washington state. Her idea was to become an environmental scientist, but when she learned that her career path could include politics if she were to fight for broad social change, she rethought it. She thought there could be a more personal way to improve people’s lives and lead to world peace.

“Many of my professors were disappointed,” she said. “Yes, they were great and they were teaching, researching and making positive contributions to help improve the environment, but with the state of the world, I was clear that if I took their path it would mean becoming political. and that I would go to war every day, and that was not me. “

To gather her thoughts and decide on her next steps, she took a break from college and headed to Mexico. The regenerative power of nature was something she always took for granted at home in the Napa Valley, but after living a busy student life and working part-time as a cocktail waitress, she felt a deep desire to ‘reconnected with nature.

“Growing up in the valley, I think I would just imagine that most places would be in harmony with the natural world,” Burquez said. “I really needed to reconnect with nature, and I also felt I had to keep exploring the world as well.”

Random meetings

She and her boyfriend packed their backpacks and set off for Mexico, where they planned to live frugally, travel to the countryside, and camp where they could. Speaking little Spanish at the time, the two adventurers moved from village to village, often sleeping in a tent while traveling in the southern part of the country.

“The Mayan lands had the greatest impact on me,” she said. “I felt like my ancestors were guiding me on the journey to discover my purpose in the healing arts.”

Burquez found camping in the jungles of Chiapas and on the beaches of Oaxaca exciting. She found that she was in sync with the rhythms and cycles of the natural world being revived, bringing to her a sense of balance she had never experienced before.

One morning, waking up early to receive the sunrise, she left the tent and strolled into a large, almost empty area of ​​the beach. There she met another stroller from California – an “energy healer”.

“We met in the middle of nowhere and I do not even remember her name, but her initial instruction helped me set my path,” she said. “She taught me some of the basics of energy healing, and that was right. It brought me back to myself and it seemed like a practice I could dedicate my life to exploring and sharing. ”

Becoming an expert

When she returned to the states, she began studying at the New Mexico School of Natural Therapy and attended it over time in Austin, Texas, where she learned to teach Nias dance and Pilates. From there she moved to Boulder, Colorado, to study homeopathy. Until then it was clear to him that a mixed approach – qigong, Pilates and Nia – was a powerful combination that offered a range of options for its ever-growing client base.

In 2001, Burquez moved to Nevada City and opened a 2,000-square-foot training center. Named the Center of Basic Movement, it quickly became a thriving community center for qigong training, Pilates and mind-body practices. By the time she sold the business in 2012, he had grown to house many other instructors, all of whom served hundreds of clients. But even with a rapidly expanding business, she found some time to gain another skill – the license of a medical qigong doctor awarded by China through the Tennessee-based International Qigong Medical College (IMQC).

During her training, she often worked remotely with IMQC practitioner, instructor and founder Bernard Shannon for a long time. Eventually she completed 2,000 hours of qigong training and assisted in college, eventually learning her first year curriculum. Leaving the program, she felt that disharmony and disconnection with one’s body and nature can often be a source of disease and alienation.

“Disease prevention and welfare promotion are often our biggest challenges,” she said. “Maintaining an active body is important, but it is also important to maintain the space in our lives for meditation, peaceful movement, connection and balance.”

Going to high technology

Today, Burquez teaches in person throughout Northern California. However, due to the pandemic, she now often uses technology to reach many of her students. Using Zoom and YouTube, she now guides students across the globe, developing personalized daily practices and workout regimes based on individual needs.

I have known him since we grew up together in the Napa Valley. At school we were friends, but we had lost contact as our roads took us on various trips. Eventually, however, we reconnected to Calistoga while teaching – it was a series of fitness classes and I mostly ran meditation sessions.

Meditation is known to be a beneficial practice; however, it is sometimes difficult to find the time and space to sit down and follow your breathing during the day. But qigong is different. Ever since I worked with Burquez myself, I have thought of it as an active, gentle form of meditation movement that I now incorporate into my daily workout routine.

It was the game to share her gifts with our readers, so we met at a place on Sonoma Coast to take some pictures and film a short video.

When we arrived, the day was cloudy and gray. I had photographed clear skies and a setting sun for the photo shoot, yet the fog and mist seemed perfectly appropriate to me.

“I love the ocean – its power and serenity,” she said as she prepared to begin her guidance.

“We’re live,” I said as I turned on the camera.

“Yes, we are,” she said.

She then calmed down and her position shifted to the relaxed qigong standing position called the “Wuji posture”. This seems relatively simple, but requires practice. The legs are facing forward, the knees are slightly bent, the spine is bent and the arms are on one side. Once in position, she took a slow, deep breath.

“Okay, to start, let ‘s breathe in the lower abdomen,” she said in front of the camera. “We will start our practice today by ‘pulling the skies’ and as we practice, imagine the waves removing tension or stress.”

As she spoke, I imitated her movements. Within just a few short minutes I felt a warm and pleasant energy flowing through my limbs. Not the jerky and bloated energy of caffeine, but a warm noise that reminded me that, even with a world that sometimes seems like a cacophony of sights and sounds that oppress us, moments of peace and quiet are achievable. However, it is only possible if we take the time to slow down, take deep breaths and practice.

Remember Helgeland? This Napa store was quite popular in the late ’60s and early’ 70s. It was owned by a woman named Hazelle Robison. Take a look at the former Helgeland and what the showcase looks like now.

Jennifer Huffman, Sign up