The Five Flows are a progression that follows the creative cycle of the Five Elemental Energies of Chinese medicine and philosophy. In my Five Flows Qigong set, I ascribe two or three exercises for each flow. Done in order, they are a complete Qigong practice. There could be more exercises per flow.
Or fewer. There could be just one exercise.
I’ve noticed that a single exercise repeated many times in a row follows a pattern similar to the five flows of Warming Up, Clearing, Charging, Balancing, and Centering.
By moving through all of the phases within a single exercise—whether that takes five reps or 50 or 100—you gain much from the exercise. The Qi state actually changes your physiology for a while (hours to days.) While the physiology is enhanced, your body works better. For those hours or days, you are a better functioning being whose inner workings are working at high quality, high speed levels to heal the hurts of your past and bring more joy in the moment.
Reps 10 to 20.
Generally when you are practicing an exercise it takes a few repetitions to get into it properly. You might feel a bit creaky or not quite coordinated with the exercise. You are in the process of calling up and remembering the exercise. The first few are the warm up phase.
Reps 20 to 30 or more.
The next phase of a repeated exercise you are drilling is the release, clearing, or cleansing phase. Here, the blocks to movement begin to let go, melt, release and transform. Blockages in your body, energy flows, nervous system, mind, memory of the moves, etc. begin to let go. Your movement becomes smoother, more natural feeling. You start to breathe more easily.
Reps 30 to 40 or more.
In the third phase you begin to charge up. The heightened Qi flow feeds your organs and cells. The movement is feeling quite good to do. You notice such sensations as internal warmth, buzzing, tingling, a sense of more stability and pleasant solidity.
Reps 40 to 50 or more.
The fourth phase is one of equilibrium, of a full flow of Qi in the whole body. This is the balance phase and it is here where you reach that Qi state. Qi begins to flow more evenly. It flows in and out, up and down, and all around in an increasingly stable, flow. The Qi state is one where you feel yourself and your cells being nourished and filled with life force throughout.
Reps 50 to 60 or more.
The fifth phase is a continuation and deepening of the Qi-state phase. Now you gain greatest benefit of the exercise, absorbing Qi fully into your system and deepening the experience, making it a easier to recapture or repeat. The exercise becomes a moving meditation. A move-itation. The Qi brings you greater centering, grounding, and rooting. Your mind is quiet (at least quieter than usual). Your body feels whole. Your emotions are settled. There is an integration and internalization of the exercise.