I grew up with a religion and culture which dissociated the corporeal from the spiritual. My undergrad Religious Studies and Philosophy coursework re-iterated this corporeal-spiritual dichotomy. (At least, according to my understanding at that time.) When I started Tai-chi and Qi-Gong, I began with this perspective.
The evolution that occurred in those early years was a blending of the disembodied spiritual notion with an embodied notion; imagining a ball of white, cosmic, Qi energy between my hands, imagining moving Qi through my body; the small circulation.
However, even this so called "embodied" experience was an un-embodied experience because I was imagining intangible, "spiritual" qualities in my body. I was not noticing areas that were relaxed or tensed. I was not noticing ever more subtle muscular movements. I was not noticing subtleties of bodily structure.
Now, I am not saying that Qi does not exist nor am I denying that one may feel or control Qi. However, when I began Tai-chi years ago, I did not make progress developing internal strength through visualizing and imagining the feeling of Qi in my body.
Through the Wujifa approach to developing internal strength, of getting "down to earth" and getting grounded in-the-body, of practicing embodiment, and developing my ability to notice and feel, I am now progressing in developing internal strength.
For an excellent introductory article on the kinesthetics of zhan zhuang, see the Wujifaliangong site "Basic Tips for Zhan Zhuang".