Welcome to Full Circle Internal Arts
The internal arts offer us wonderful opportunities for enhancing our health, fitness, and personal/spiritual growth. Such practices are more important than ever in these days of rapid, often dramatic change and can assist us in all aspects of our lives.
My name is Art Baner. I am an experienced and enthusiastic instructor of several martial and healing arts. On this site you’ll find extensive information, resources, and classes about all things related to the internal arts – most specifically: Taijiquan, qigong, meditation, and the various applications of hypnotherapy (coming soon).
The purpose of this site is to support people who are actively cultivating their higher potential not only for themselves but also for the well being of those around them. Please have a look around, sign up for my newsletter, and drop me a line or two if you like. You can also visit my Integrative Bodywork website and schedule an appointment if you are in the Bellingham, Wa area.
Wishing you clear minds and happy hearts.
~ Art Baner
February 21, 2009 Comments Off
As a Tai Chi instructor, I am often treated to the most insightful observations and questions from those I’m privileged to work with. Recently, I was asked “What is practice? What is its purpose?” I love questions like this because they point to a deeper level of experience than is immediately obvious. In this case, the student was thinking beyond the repetition of movements and ideas and more to the heart of practice and our personal relationship with it.
In pondering this, what occurs to me is that “practice” is not an external thing we do, it is a quality of being we step into. For me, it is much like meditation or prayer or that “zone” we can feel when running, hiking, or concentrating on something fascinating to us. As such, it is unique (and similar) to each of us. Ideally, it is a state of focused self-cultivation in which the primary theme is “practice so as to feel genuinely good.” If you are feeling good, your practice is good, even if technically there is lots of room for improvement. Feeling good comes first.
What do I mean by “feeling good”? It can mean that you are feeling stronger, more balanced, more coordinated, happier, a deeper flow of energy, a sense of peace, and more… It’s up to you, its your creative state of practicing! For Tai Chi or qigong practitioners, it is using the movements and principles of our forms, but seeking moreso the qualities of Self beneath them.
But what of those times during which we are not feeling so good? What about those moments of struggle or discomfort or uncertainty when learning something new? In those moments. still our objective can be to move with a sense of well-being and good will for self and others. We can cultivate that clarity of intention, whether it be at the level of a trickling stream or a roaring ocean. We can take those moments as opportunities to learn more deeply the qualities we value: grace, coordination, freedom, flow, strength, balance… whatever inspires you most. In this way, practice leads to inner growth… cultivating the outer reveals the inner.
Practice, of anything meaningful to us, is one of the most life-affirming things we can do as humans. This is because practice, when explored with presence, patience, and passion brings us closer to our truer self. It polishes, slowly or quickly, the rough edges of our personality, letting the sun shine through more brightly and happily over time.
In the end, I know of no better way to self cultivation than through meaningful practice… crafted from those disciplines worthy of our time and energy. So wherever you are in your relationship with self-cultivation, whatever that may mean to you, take it further still, with kindness toward yourself, authenticity in your methods, and with the consistency that makes us strong. Let your practice evolve as you do and if the spirit moves you… share it with others.
Wishing you happy practicing!
October 19, 2016 No Comments
Hello everyone. This is where I will post a series of pdf files that relate to the material we are working on. It is not required reading, but I believe you will find a lot of useful information. The attached pdf’s are taken from a book in progress called Exploring the Heart of Qigong. There should be at least six in this series over the next 8 weeks. Thanks, and happy practicing! ~ Art
2.Video of the 8 Pieces of Brocade
This is an older video and not exactly as I teach and practice it now, but its close enough to assist in learning (and remembering) the choreography.
August 17, 2016 No Comments
Qigong is an awesome way to begin the day and there’s something magical about practicing in a group! My plan is to follow this foundation course with two more advanced series as we head into autumn and winter…
Full details for this series are HERE.
Please call or email with any questions or to reserve your place and I hope to see you there!
August 1, 2016 No Comments
Join us for the Tai Chi 5-Section Short Form
Benefits of Tai Chi
The benefits of regular Tai Chi practice are numerous and well researched. They include: improved leg and core muscle strength; improved balance, coordination, and ease of movement; improved posture and body mechanics; an enhanced ability to relax and to focus; a heightened sensitivity to subtle energetics, and more…
February 23, 2016 No Comments
Regular practitioners of Tai Chi consistently report the following benefits:
In addition to learning the traditional solo Long Form, in a movement by movement approach, we will be training principles that support strong core work, easy movement flow, and conscious, energetic connection. This will give the student many levels with which to approach and master their art. Spaces are filling up… If you would like to join us, please call or email me to reserve your place. Details are below:
December 14, 2015 No Comments
It was great working with you all yesterday. Thanks for everyone’s awesome effort and generous spirit! As promised, the link for the handout on the material we covered is HERE.
I hope you find it helpful … and happy practicing!
December 1, 2014 No Comments
Our autumn newsletter is now available! Here is the LINK.
Also please note that a beginning level class on qigong and Tai Chi fundamentals is now forming. Details are below. All are welcome to attend and current students receive this class at half price!
Monday evening classes will continue as we near completion of the long form and then set our sights on refining technique, deepening principles, and developing more spontaneous, creative flow.
Email or call Art Baner at 360-318-4433 with any questions or to reserve your space in upcoming events!
Thanks and happy practicing!
September 8, 2014 No Comments
I’m happy to announce a new beginning level class and a few other events coming up soon…
Beginning Tai Chi: Qigong and Long Form
Description: This is a great class for both beginners and experienced practitioners who want to deepen and improve their core work. In this series we will learn qigong practices that are specific to Taiji with an emphasis on breathing, posture, and relaxed focus. We will also learn the first part of the traditional long form. Depending on the pace of the class, this series will last 3-4 months. Afterward, a level two series will be offered and we will continue from there…
Begins: Wednesday, October 8th
Time: 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Place: The Majestic (Corner of Maple and Forest)
Tuition: 50/month (a few partial scholarships are available)
Register: by email or phone (318-4433) to reserve your space.
Tai Chi 2-Person Practice - A Mini-workshop on “Sensing Hands”
Description: This exploration of juishou or “sensing hands” is perfect for beginners and intermediate players.
We will explore the core principles of Tai Chi through intuitive, cooperative drills with a partner. Juishou benefits us through deepening our solo form and enhancing all the benefits of good Tai Chi practice.
Join us for this fun and ongoing series hosted by my friend Kelly at Powered by Qi in Ferndale.
Date: Saturday, October 11
Time: 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Place: Kelly’s Studio – CLICK for directions
Register: by email or phone (318-4433) to reserve your space.
My friend and training buddy, Michael Blackburn, is hosting this event in beautiful Vancouver, BC.
Description: Nimble, rooted and mobile — traditional Yang style T’ai Chi’s moving step drills begin with simple advance and retreat and develop organically into the effective and beautiful study that is Tai Chi footwork. Walking drills eventually incorporate previous pushing hands patterns and provide the essential ability to move freely within the framework of good Tai Chi principles. Join us for this unique workshop! Hosted by Vancouver Taijiquan.
Date: Sunday, November 30th
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Place: Glen Park, East Vancouver (E23rd & Glen St.) CLICK for directions
* Small Group and Private Sessions are available upon request *
September 4, 2014 No Comments
Hello everyone! The subject of personal practice often comes up in Tai Chi classes. Whether we are just beginning or have years under our belt, it’s often helpful to ponder our practice and how we can make it even more beneficial and enjoyable.
I’ve written in the past about the importance of identifying your reasons for practice and to regularly keep them in your awareness: Why is Tai Chi important to you? Align yourself closely with your why and you will naturally gravitate toward more and more satisfying practice. Make sure your reasons resonate personally and continually feel into what is inspiring and uplifting to you.
It is also beneficial to have a sense of progression in our approach to Tai Chi: where are we starting from and where we are going. This came up recently in a forms class I was teaching. The solo forms of Tai Chi are very important. They exist as a container for principles and ideas; a template for fundamental movement. They also afford us a vehicle through which we cultivate certain energies and qualities inherent in this art.
We begin with a bare hand solo form and basic choreography. This is the first golden gate to higher levels of study. Without a clear sense of choreography and the body mechanics that support it, its difficult to progress further. So we learn the basics of stance, coordination, relaxation, and what move comes after the one before. At times, this can be a challenging phase. At others, it’s an exciting exploration and it simply gets easier with practice. Push through the challenging bits.
Once we learn the basic solo form, whether it be a short form or the traditional Long Form, we can relax even more and dig into deeper levels of practice. Forms are not meant to be a stopping point, but rather a beginning point. They provide us a foundation upon which we can build and to which we return time and again for higher levels of mastery. Pondering the Ten Important Points of Yang, Chengfu is a great way to take your form work to a deeper place. At first, I recommend just working with one principle at a time.
Beyond the standard interpretation of form, there are many ways in which we can practice and a lot of variety we can bring to each session. Variety, if done with mindfulness and attention to core principles, can afford us higher levels of understanding and mastery in our art. We can alter speed, rhythm, frame size, and other points of emphasis. Doing so can significantly improve our coordination, balance, awareness, and more. And this can be far more pleasing than limiting ourselves to mere repetition.
Beyond adding variety, there is the level of more free-form practice. One can practice movements in the opposite direction or go more “randomly” from one posture to the next, creating logical transitions that link the movements together. This level of practice elevates our familiarity with the various techniques in Tai Chi. A good way to begin this kind of practice is to choose only two movements from the form that do not typically occur together, such as ward-off and push. Create a good transition between them and practice it in various ways – left side, right side, different angles, etc. Just let yourself explore how two movements can connect with each other.
Another whole new arena of form work opens up once a student begins two-person practice. Prior to this, form work can be somewhat abstract but once we have the feeling of connecting to another human being in controlled drills, the bare hand forms start to feel deeper and more relevant. There is suddenly a felt context in our movement.
So, I encourage you to look deeply. No matter where you are in your study of Tai Chi, think both inside and outside the box. Breath, relax, go slowly and enjoy the exploration of your own self in the process. And let us engage our Tai Chi as if we are a force of nature… for surely we are!
In upcoming form classes, we’ll be digging more deeply into core principles and creative practice in solo work. There is also a new 2-person workshop coming up on the 31st and a brand new 5-Section class beginning in June. I hope to see you there!
May 19, 2014 No Comments
Begin the study of Tai Chi Chuan or deepen your fundamentals…
This new series will include a deep study of Tai Chi core principles and instruction in the 5-Section Solo Form developed by my teacher Sam Masich. This short form is simple and easy to learn and can be practiced in as little as 5-10 minutes.
Regular Tai Chi Practice Will:
* Improve your health and fitness
* Strengthen your muscles, bones, and joints
* Develop your balance and coordination
* Deepen your ability to relax and release stress
* And much more…
Day and time: Wednesday evenings, 6:30 to 7:45
Location: The Majestic (lower level) 1027 Forest Street, Bellingham
Special: Current students attend this class for half price!
To reserve your space email or call
Art Baner at (360) 318-4433
May 13, 2014 No Comments