by Steve Spano

If you are already practicing the Healing Circle exercises and want to review them at home, this article provides the order usually followed. If you are potential student, it will tell you what to expect in a session. Listed below in the sequence usually practiced are all the elements of a typical session, together with an explanation of their purposes and a brief description.
       The Healing Circle is
a method of internal energy balance using deep relaxation, deep breathing, rising and falling, weight shifting and circular movement. It is gentle enough to be performed even by those in a weakened state, and can be modified to be practiced while sitting or laying down. Deep relaxation puts the cerebral cortex into a quiescent state so that the central nervous system is regulated, and allows for easy natural movement of joints and muscles. Deep breathing cleanses and feeds the blood and induces qi movement in the body. Blood pressure and metabolic rate, both important health indicators, are also normalized by deep breathing. Rising, falling and weight shifting promote circulation of blood and qi through out all parts of the body equally, upper, lower, right side and left side. Slow circular movement promotes joint flexibility and range of motion, as well as a deepened sense of balance. At the same time, the energy gates of the body are opened, allowing qi to circulate freely.
       The names of the exercises are listed below for a quick reference. You can follow the link to the explanation and description. Some sessions may not include every exercise shown on the list due to time restraints or to the skill level of the participants. For example, an advanced practitioner may want to go right into the Healing Circle proper, without any preliminary warm up. I am working on adding illustrations of each exercise, so do please check back later.
       Internal Warm Up and Stretch.
       The Hundred Turns.
       The Healing Circle, solo.
       The Healing Circle, with partner.
       Internal Cool Down and Stretch.
       Internal Warm Up and Stretch. This exercise provides comprehensive stretching of the tissues. It generates internal heat and moves that heat throughout the body. Most importantly, it familiarizes the practitioner with the process of sinking internal energy. This sinking should become habitual under stress.
       Begin with shaking legs and arms, stretch neck. Turn and tap abdomen to kindle internal fire. Move fire first to legs, spine, arms. Loosen wrists. One leg stretch each side. Finish with sinking internal energy.
       The Hundred Turns. This is an excellent conditioning exercise for those unfamiliar with circular movement. It develops a strong internal focus, through which the practitioner is able to perceive the flow of vital energy and to change it at will. The joints are loosened, range of motion increased and circulation improved.
       Begin in standing position, sink, check alignment. Bring the palms face to face in front of the dan tian and generate sphere of heat. Begin turning the sphere by turning wrists. Practice varying the size and shape of the sphere, making it larger and smaller, perfectly round and oblong. Slowly in succession expand the turning to include the elbows, shoulders, neck, waist, hips, knees and feet. Move the sphere into the lower body for energy storage. Bring it back up in front of the dan tian and begin to discontinue the turning, reversing the sequence through feet, knees, hips, waist, neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists. End at the same position as the beginning.
       The Healing Circle, solo. This is a type of empty massage. Through circular motion, weight shift stepping and arm oscillation up and down and side to side, the innate pumping function of the body is utilized to promote balanced blood and qi circulation throughout all parts of the body.
       In standing position, generate sphere of heat. Slowly inhale and turn the head to look over either the right or left shoulder. Rotate the sphere to follow. Step back with the foot on the side of the turn, while pivoting on the other foot. While turning, shift the weight from the pivoting foot to the stepping foot. Slowly exhale and turn the head back to look over the other shoulder, follow with the sphere and a weight shift back to the foot that pivoted. Repeat. Occasionally reverse the direction of the turn.
       The Healing Circle, with partner. The partner version includes all the same benefits of the solo version with the added element of random movement introduced by the partner. It develops the ability to continually adjust to external conditions while maintaining internal energy balance and quiescence.
       Partners face, wrists touching. Sink and generate energy sphere. Partner one shifts weight toward and moves sphere toward the torso of partner two. Partner two shifts and turns to avoid sphere. Reverse roles and continue.
       Internal Cool Down and Stretch. This increases the benefits of the Internal Warm Up, with the added benefit of bringing the internal energy released by the previous exercises back into dan tian, so that it is available for use by the body as needed.
       The execution of the cool down is the same as the warm up version.

       Please note that qigong is not a medical procedure, nor is it a replacement for a medical procedure. If you have an ailment or any kind of physical complaint, you should see your physician first and make use of qigong as an adjunct to medical treatment second.

       For my current training schedule go here.
Winter, 2009