The essence of our practice is the nurturing and accumulation of gong. Gong, as defined by Yang, Laoshi is "constant improvements in balance, coordination, agility, and power through the accretion and replenishment of Qi,..."(1). There are, of course, lots of practices we utilize to accomplish this. For the practitioner of Chen-style Taijiquan, the crucial component in this is Yilu, or the first form. In Chen Taiji, the Yilu is considered the Gongfu form. This should be the form to which we return again and again, the most practiced, as this is where we develop and reinforce basic skill and gong.
It is necessary to understand and apply this, as we have so many basic practices that are also important. It is important, crucial even, to focus on the basic gong-jin: Qigong, Silk Reeling (Chansi-jin), Neigong, agility training, strength training, and meditation. But for the practitioner who has advanced to the stage of first form, training this on a very regular (daily if possible) basis is just as crucial as it builds on the gong-jin, but also adds other criteria that are important for advancement down the path of Gongfu, such as coordination, fan-song, ling-jin, technique, cognitive training, et al.
As we progress, we begin to learn new and more complicated forms, which along with constant focus on basic gong-jin, will takes to depths previously unimagined. But we must return again and again to Yilu to build on and reinforce these skills. Further, we can always go deeper with and build on Yilu, no matter how long we have been training. That is the beauty of this practice, there is no end, only constant adjustment and improvement.
Note: (1) Yang, Yang. Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power; 2005. pp. 14