In 2009, when Dr. Guggenheim’s second husband, David, developed pulmonary emboli, the couple started tai chi and qi gong as a way for him to gently exercise.
Both styles coordinate posture, movement, breathing and meditation. They are infinitely deep, engaging, powerful and calming techniques, she says.
“I love to move,” says Dr. Guggenheim. “Qigong calms me down and helps me empathize with others.”
She explains that tai chi movements lubricate every joint in your body by gently compressing the articular cartilage surfaces. “So for joint health, it’s just amazing,” she says. So much so that Dr. Guggenheim encourages most of her patients to enroll in tai chi classes. She also teaches them a few basic movements, such as Cloud Hands—repetitive, meditative hand and body movements they can easily perform at home. She says the movements are simple to learn and can be immensely helpful for breathing, balance and mobility.
She and her husband also teach weekly qigong classes in their home dance studio and Dr. Guggenheim’s tai chi club members trade off every week teaching each other.
“Tai chi is really complex,” she adds. “It engages your mind. You can’t think about anything else. It’s so focused, so engaging and so meditative.”
Dr. Guggenheim readily admits she is a woman of passion and suggests other rheumatologists discover their own passions and pursue them.
She says the most interesting observations that have been made about her have come from her residents: “They told me, ‘You’re the only happy physician we know.’”
Carol Patton is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas.
1988: Received her degree from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine
1988–1989: Performed her rotating internship at Ingham Regional Medical Hospital, now called McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital
1989–1992: Performed her residency in internal medicine at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, a community-based program
1992–1994: Did a rheumatology fellowship at the University of Iowa
1994–1998: Served on the staff at the University of Iowa, Rheumatology Department
1998–1999: Practiced as a rheumatologist in Santa Fe, N.M.
1999–2000: Practiced as a rheumatologist in multi-specialty group in Lansing, Mich.
2000–current: Launched Arthritis Care, a private practice in Lansing, Mich., which now resides in a 102-year-old schoolhouse Dr. Guggenheim refurbished between 2008 and 2009