This simple movement is part of the Yang Taiji Neigong, who’s method originally derives from Wudang. In fact a number of parts of the Yang’s Neigong are carbon copies of the much older Wudang Taijiquan which dates back to the early Ming Dynasty.
Traditionally this Neigong was only taught after everything else in the Taiji syllabus had been mastered. The purpose of this training was to cultivate, harness and control one’s own Qi and direct it at will with the speed of the mind.
With Neigong, before the more complex combinations can be learned, we must first be able to ‘sense’ and feel our Qi or in today’s terms, our bio-electromagnetic energy field. The Daoists call this our ‘Energy Body.’
The idea is to become consciously aware of this energy field that both permeates and surrounds us. For most ordinary people this field only extends out a few inches, but with diligent practice of Taiji Neigong a Master like the late Ma Yueh Liang’s field extended many feet in front and behind, above and below into the Earth.
The three internal techniques.
1-- Holding focus in the center of the Dan Tien throughout the movements.
2-- Simultaneously moving the Qi along the Central Channel down through to Hui Yin and up through Baihui on the opening expanding part of the movement. And then returning the Qi to the deep center of the Dantien in the condensing, closing part of the movement. After enough practice a vertical cylinder develops. With continued perseverance this cylinder grows wider until it encompasses the entire body.
When the cylinder is still in its early stage, one begins to feel a movement of energy that is almost a concrete sensation like balls of concentrated ‘warmth or energy moving effortlessly through the cylinder. The cylinder itself is alive with a less ‘intense’ or concentrated version of energy-warmth and Space. This provides a vacuum-like environment within which the Qi can move effortlessly at the speed of the mind.
3-- The third technique involves a total spherical expansion and condensation. From a pinpoint deep in the center of the Dantien out through the boundary of our personal energy field (in the expanding, opening segment) and back again to our deep center. (in the closing, condensing segment) Eventually the arms will sense the outer boundaries of our energy field.
One of the other important Yang Taiji Neigong techniques is ‘holding postures.’ (Zhan Zhuang) But instead of just mindlessly standing there, the Neigong methods of moving the Qi through the channels and Jin pathways are practiced in the various postures.