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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Normandale's Integrative Health Education Center

Sep 30, 2015 06:34PM ● By Jackie Flaherty

Normandale Community College (Normandale) is the largest college in the Minnesota state system, with over 10,000 students. On the side of the campus, in a new, glass-fronted LEED building, is the home of Normandale’s Integrative Health Education Center, part of Normandale Continuing Education.

For over a decade, Normandale has been offering classes, workshops and certificate programs to the public on holistic health topics. Courses this year include Energy Medicine, Reiki, Healing Touch, Ayurveda, Herbalism, Holistic Nutrition, and Aromatherapy. Classes are offered on evenings and weekends to accommodate working professionals.

“Our classes are designed to be used as continuing education for nurses,” states Program Director Amanda Gustafson, “but usually about half the class are people who are there to learn more for themselves and loved ones.”

Normandale is known for its quality in holistic health teachers, who generally are working professionals in their field. “Several of our teachers have literally written the book on their subject,” explains Gustafson. “For example, Matt Alfs uses his text on wild plants in both his herbalism and holistic nutrition series. For energy medicine training, people come from all over the world to learn from Cyndi Dale, author of the bestseller The Subtle Body.”

Tai chi and qigong are a core part of Normandale’s programming. Qigong is the Chinese practice of “energy cultivation” used for health and longevity, with tai chi a form of qigong that has its roots in the martial arts. Dr. Russ Smiley, a Normandale faculty member, personally practiced tai chi in the garden at lunch. People would ask him to teach them, and this evolved into regular six and 12-week classes.

Smiley has passed on, but his legacy continues in a wide range of classes. Beginners can start with tai chi for arthritis and balance or for diabetes. Advanced students can learn specialized forms such as fan and sword. There is even a certification taught twice a year for people interested in teaching tai chi for arthritis in their community. New this semester are courses in Shibashi and Longevity Qigong and Yi Chuan Tai Chi.

Normandale’s holistic health programming continues to evolve. Some of the new topics this semester include classes in esoteric acupuncture, energy management tools, integrative health applied to vascular disease and pain relief, and holistic self-care for caregivers. A new class in December uses a labyrinth technique to bring participants in touch with their inner guidance.

The next tai chi open house will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., October 24.

Location: 9700 France Ave. S., Bloomington. For more information, call 952-358-8343 or visit

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