Q & A with Suzanne Brownell

21, Jul, 2010 Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

Health coach and exercise specialist Suzanne Brownell is the founder of Health Thyself, LLC, a holistic health consulting company. Certified in both personal training and post-rehabilitative exercise programming by Hofstra University, Suzanne inspires and empowers people to live healthy, happy lives.  She has been an active leader and teacher of community health for over twenty years.

Suzanne teaches Yo-Chi on the Greenway Wednesday mornings from 8 to 8:45AM.

Q:  What is Yo-Chi and how did you first become interested in it?

A: Yoga + Chi Gung (Qi Gong) is a fusion group exercise class, combining two of the oldest mind-body practices known to mankind: Yoga from India and Chi Gung from China. I like to call Yo-Chi “Spa for the Soul” because it involves self-care, internal healing and regeneration.

I’ve been practicing yoga and chi gong for over ten years.  I started with a western approach to exercise. Part of the reason I became interested in these two ancient practices is because it is such an effective work-out without being complicated.  The movements are simple, often referred to as “complex simplicity”. I can practice anywhere at any time and it does not require any equipment.  Most importantly are the numerous science-based health benefits gained from doing it, including stress relief, easing muscle and joint tension and stiffness, promoting deeper breathing, improving muscular strength, flexibility, and balance, reducing blood pressure and strengthening the immune system.

Yo-Chi is part of my wellness plan for the rest of my life.  Eastern practices are centuries old and they deserve respect. I now understand how to move my body in a functional way and so this ancient practice has become so much more meaningful than what a western approach to physical activity offers.

Q: What brought you to teach Yo-Chi on the Greenway?

A: I guess it was my reputation as an experienced and dedicated leader within the field of Holistic Health and Fitness and Integrative mind-body practices. I’ve taught for years at the Health Club and Spa of Rowes Wharf, as well as along the waterfront of Boston, Charlestown, and in local parks and beaches on the South Shore of Massachusetts, so eventually one of my clients suggested that I work with the Greenway Conservancy.

One of my favorite mentors is renowned for teaching programs like Yo-Chi at the best spas in the world, so I thought if they teach it there, why not on the Greenway?

Q: What is your favorite thing about teaching on the Greenway?

A: I have many favorite things.  First is seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces as they arrive in the morning.  I love the feeling I get from bringing a community together to enjoy each others’ company while reaping the benefits of these ancient practices.  Second, feeling the organic grass on my bare feet and watching the way that the sun and the clouds change in the sky throughout the practice.  Third, being told how good my students feel from their morning practice.  This exchange of Chi (healing energy) is what gives me health.

It is the act of community coming together that is the essence of health, not running a marathon.  Experiencing the environment, the earth and the deep connection to each other (the Chi among us).

Q: If you were to give three health-tips to Greenway-goers on how to stay healthy, what would they be?

A: Volunteer for something you feel passionate about and or help someone from the goodness of your heart.  This will fill your heart with love and give you health.

Don’t forget to eat your locally grown fruits and vegetables. How lucky we are to have the Farmers Market Here!

Stand barefoot in the park every day with a friend or family member and take a few minutes of quiet time to relax and consciously breathe.  Take in all the natural senses around you and within you.  (I think I just described Yo-Chi!)