Inward Outward Practice
Another base form is Inward Outward. Along with Preparation and Upward Downward, this should be a part of your every day warm-up sequence to begin your practice. In this article we will go over some of the details of this form to enhance your practice.
As you go up in this form, make sure you are following a curve from the Lower Dan Tian to the Upper Dan Tian. Keep the fingertips as close to each other as you can, but do not touch. Follow the center-line as you inhale going upward along this curve in a slow smooth manner, the body rising in sync with the arm motion. Feel the energy rise up with the body, following the fingertips.
As the fingertips get to the Upper Dan Tian, you want to split the energy and move outward, the hands rotating until they are 45º up and out. Feel as if you are stretching a rubber band, pulling the energy outward. At this point you should feel as if you have separated one Taichi Ball into two. There should be a Taichi Ball under each palm. Exhale and take these Taichi Balls and slowly let them sink downward, gradually turning your palms until they face backwards. Then, slowly bring the palms back inward until they are over the Lower Dan Tian joining the two Taichi Balls into one in the Lower Dan Tian. Now, let a Taichi Ball "drop out" of the Lower Dan Tian into the palms to begin the sequence again.
So what are we doing in this form? Notice two things. First you are raising up a Taichi Ball and then splitting it into two, so this form is teaching you how to split the energy. This is a Taichi concept that is fundamental to your Taichi power development. Most Taichi forms will require you to split the energy and put it back together at some point in the form, so you need to do a lot of this type of practice. Remember to balance both of the energies when you have split them. Too often when students do this, they focus on one aspect of the energy and forget about the other, resulting in a lack of proper flow in the form. If you have Yin, you have to have Yang, if you are going forward, you must always think about backward too. The Taichi Classics have numerous passages referring to this concept.
Secondly, you are working with the Lower and Upper Dan Tian. Notice how you connect to the Lower Dan Tian and form a Taichi Ball to get started. This helps you feel the Lower Dan Tian and begin to activate that area. You move the ball up raising the energy to the Upper Dan Tian, where you split it. You pull apart here, again helping you to feel and activate this area. Both of these areas are vital to your Taichi Practice, especially the awareness of and connection to the Lower Dan Tian. Be very conscious of both as you cycle through them in this form.
Inward Outward has many more details, but this should get you started towards enhancing your practice of the form. Making it a regular part of your practice routine will ensure that you are doing the fundamentals that you need to, in order to develop your Chi and continue to clean, purify and strengthen your energy. Combined with the right fundamental forms, Inward Outward will be indispensable to your progress.