Drawing the circle: Tai chi exercise for a supple waist, and low back and leg flexibility

Having a loose and supple waist, low back and hamstrings is one of the best things to reduce injury and increase feelings of wellbeing in the body. Practices like tai chi, yoga and qigong are all great means of relaxing and distressing the body over time. But there is a simple exercise that you can do it without having to leave the home.

In today’s video, tai chi teacher Elena Maza Borkland will show you a fun exercise called “Drawing the Circle.” It is based on tai chi principles, but you don’t have to be a tai chi practitioner to do it! The article description explains it and the video will show you how.

Starting position

Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder’s width, breath normally and try to relax.

Slowly place your left hand behind your waist.

Raise your right hand up above your head, palm facing down, relaxed and not stiff.

Circle sequence

Begin making a circle by moving your entire upper body as a unit, by moving the waist—not just the right arm.

First turn the waist to your left. Keep your back straight as you bend at the waist slowly. Take your time and try to relax as you go down as far as you can; your torso moving toward your left leg. And allow yourself to just hang down from the waist.

Next, continue to draw a circle clockwise by turning your waist to the right until your torso is in front of the right leg.

Now start to slowly come back up and frontward, until you have completed a full circle.

Remember, nice and easy and slow and relaxed. Just flow.

Do two or three circles in one direction and then switch and do on the other side. Keep the transition smooth and seamless. See video for details.

Coordinate your breathing

Once you have the hang of this, then it’s time to add the breathing to it. In tai chi and qigong, one of the main components for relaxation and energy cultivation and release, is timing the breath with the movement.

Take a full breath as you raise your arm above your head, but don’t strain.

As you start to go down, begin breathing out very slowly.

Exhale slowly with the goal being that your exhalation is timed with your full down and across movements.

Once you have moved so you are in front of the opposite leg, you will begin to slowly breathe in as you raise back up and return to the starting position.

If you are moving very slowly, you may need to take two breaths to complete a full circle.

Additional thoughts

Take your time and the important thing is not to strain yourself. To derive the most benefit from this exercise, you need to remain relaxed. That means not getting upset if you can only bend forward a small amount, or if you can’t breathe slowly enough. Just keep it flowing and time will show improvement in the method and from this improvement in low back, waist, and hamstring flexibility and pain reduction.


Dr. Mark Wiley

By Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. Dr. Wiley has written 14 books and more than 500 articles. He serves on the Health Advisory Boards of several wellness centers and associations while focusing his attention on helping people achieve healthy and balanced lives through his work with Easy Health Options® and his company, Tambuli Media.