Circle walking is the quintessential Bagua exercise, but by no means the only one. As in other arts or skills proper practice yields the best results. Preparing oneself mentally and physically is important to gaining the most benefit from any internal martial art practice. Circle walking has multiple purpose: build strength in the legs, develop overall conditioning, improve mobility, coordination and evasiveness in defense.
A word often used to guide practice is soong. Often translated as relax it means to stay loose as if one does not exist but in a state of mental alertness. To help with this concept one should prepare the body by quieting the mind. Simply standing with the eyes closed and breathing while allowing the tension to release from the body. Soong or relaxation accomplishes several things:
- Conserves energy - muscle tension uses energy and slows movements
- Aids the flow of internal energy and fluids to your organs for optimum health
- Relaxation enables endurance
Below are tips to follow prior to and during one's practice.
This moment, the now, is the most important moment to us at any time as we cannot alter what has already occurred and the future is dependent upon what we do now. When practicing give your attention to your practice and open yourself to environmental input. Environmental input is not just awareness of one's surrounding, although this is important in self-defense situations. It also refers to our internal environment: both the physical body and the mind.
Visualize inner energy flow throughout the body while walking as a ball inflating and expanding in all directions
Circle Walking Tips
- Keep your center of gravity low, but lighten the body while sinking so there is a slight fold in the hips
- Breath naturally and keep the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth
- Breathe into your center, allowing your belly to expand, and not into the lungs
- Keep the head level and look through the tiger's mouth (opening between web of thumb and index finger) toward the center of the circle
- Sink the shoulders and feel roundness in the upper back
- Do not allow the lower arm to collapse against your body, keep a feeling of roundness in it
- Glide as you walk, softly, yet quickly - imagine walking on ice
- Walk as low as possible to condition the legs
- When walking maintain a sense of spiraling in towards the circle, but careful not to collapse the circle
- Maintain a sense of awareness of yourself and adjust your posture as necessary
Taoist circle walking mantra 1) repeated during morning practice 2) repeated during evening practice11 1) "When rotating in worship of heaven, the sound of thunder is everywhere and transforms everything"
2) "When rotating in worship of heaven, the great void saves us from the hardship of existence"