Hong Kim’s story is a common one. He grew up in South Korea, did well academically, played sports, became an electronics engineer, got married, had children and was happy. Well, that’s the story anyway.
“Since I was young I have a question: Why am I born?” Kim says. The answer from his father was: “Study." From his teachers: “Study." Important, yes, to get a good job with good pay.
He did build a good life, but was "empty inside,” he says. Kim was good at sports, especially soccer, but he had anxiety, lower back pain, depression and stomach problems, and visited an acupuncturist every single day.
During a time when Korea had a lot of financial problems, many workers were laid off. Kim secretly prayed to be laid off. It didn’t happen at first, but finally his wish came true. With time on his hands, he asked his wife whether he should try swordsmanship or dan jun breathing, both popular in Korean culture. With wide eyes, she made it clear that he should try better breathing.
Dan jun breathing exercises help build inner strength and increase the effectiveness of techniques used in the martial arts. Kim says during soccer games he never broke a sweat, but suddenly he was sweating profusely during breathing exercises. Something was definitely different.
Leaving a class one day he saw a woman exiting a workshop called “true self”. “Her eyes were different,” he says, and he knew instantly that he wanted to take this workshop. He asked, but was told he was not ready. He asked again and again until he was allowed to take the workshop during which he says he “cried the river Han,” tears of gratitude and happiness. “In Korea, men do not cry [except for] three times in life, when born, and when parents die,” Kim says.
He continued a path toward self-discovery, until both he and his wife became masters. Now, a journey that began 18 years ago brings Master Hong (as his students know him) to Maple Grove.
Natalya Sokol, an elementary teacher of English as a second language in Maple Grove schools, was visiting family in Denver, Colorado when she heard about Master Hong and attended a class there. She assembled 13 of her friends at home and brought the favored teacher to Maple Grove for a workshop in her living room, which he followed up with online classes. Soon, their entreaties were answered and he opened a yoga and tai chi studio called Brain & Body, on the northwest corner of Hwy. 169 and 63rd Avenue.
The studio is a national brand leader in holistic health and wellness. It combines Eastern Asian healing and energy philosophies, including yoga, tai chi, detox, rhythmic movement and meditation.
Kim says he began training to recover his physical health, “but later I realized that it was not physical issues. Since I started this yoga and tai chi, I have never been to hospitals because my conditions improved so much. I could take care of my physical, emotional and spiritual health very well.” He also explains that when he finally had a proper view of himself, he could see the suffering in others.
“People who say ‘follow you heart’ don’t know what they are talking about,” he says. “This is mostly based on emotions.” The direction one comes away with from this studio is to "become healthy, share love and become wise."
Master Hong Kim says that feeling energy is a way of awakening the “6th sense”. He describes the intestines as the “furnace” for our bodies energy, so ample focus at the studio is placed on the midsection of the body.
30 - the number of times each bite should be chewed in order for proper digestion to begin
30-40% - amount of total blood volume in the gut
76% - the amount of responsibility the gut carries for the body’s immune system
90% - amount of serotonin produced in the gut, (the happiness hormone)
Trillions – the number of bacteria found in the gut