Yogi, Pilates teacher, Thai masseur, and master Reiki healer Johnson Chong, a GENseng alumnus, visited campus to give four free workshops to promote Mind Body Awareness. Presented by GENseng, Cothurnus and Musical Theater Club, the workshops gave Geneseo students a unique perspective from a man with a plethora of experience.
Each of Chong’s programs had a different focus to attract a variety of students. His programs for Mind/Body Dialogue for the Stage and Mind/Body Fitness for Maintenance were more general, whereas his class for Mind/Body Awareness for the Stage was sponsored by Cothurnus. Musical Theater Club promoted Mind/Body Awareness of the Voice.
Chong said, “This morning, [Friday Sept. 21], what we did was with a smaller group and they were all theater students, so the intention was different. Today, in the afternoon, it was very mixed, which I was aware of, so I called it Mind/Body Fitness because it has a wider appeal.”
Chong said that he shifts his focus when he works with students involved in theater. “I know that the awareness of their bodies is different because they have to calibrate their [voices] to fit the role, so they actually have to be aware of their [ribcages] a lot more than someone who just sits and studies chemistry all day.”
Chong only spent a year at Geneseo before transferring to the Acting Conservatory at SUNY Purchase, but he says his time here was important for his career goals in the long run. When he first came to Geneseo, he was a Spanish major with a minor in French and piano pedagogy.
“It was like, what am I doing?” Chong said, “Then I joined GENseng, and I did the theater club, and I was involved in those, and it was there that I kind of had an epiphany … and I realized I had to go audition for acting conservatory.”
“When I came out [of conservatory] I had still kept in touch with [professor of theater Randy Kaplan], so that part of my life here was sort of a transitional bridge for me,” he said.
He said he felt the need to return to Geneseo to raise awareness of his techniques.
“I appreciate the scenery and the landscape [of Geneseo], but culturally, it needs to be exposed.” Chong said. “Light needs to be shed on certain things.”
“You know, at the beginning of class I took a poll, and I asked, ‘What do you guys see yoga as?’ And people mostly see it as fitness … but you can use the concepts and the techniques to help people make better decisions,” he said.
Chong’s classes were a workout, but were certainly eye opening for those who attended. He spoke of promoting a healthy lifestyle and being more receptive to and aware of your body.
Chong said he all he really wants is for students “to make smart decisions and take care of themselves.”