Practiced in the East for centuries, the flowing movements of tai chi have been known to promote health and inner harmony.
According to Chinese medicine, the benefits of this ancient martial art come from unblocking and encouraging the proper flow of chi, the energy force that flows throughout the body. Western medicine hasn’t typically addressed the body’s “energy forces,” but that might be about to change.
According to the 2019 Harvard University Women’s Health Watch, “tai chi is often described as meditation in motion, but it might well be called medication in motion,” thanks to its uses in prevention and treatment of health issues.
The Great Courses Tai Chi for Strength, Balance, and Tranquility
By Professor David-Dorian Ross, International Master Tai Chi Instructor
Release : November 2020
Subject : Better Living | Health and Wellness
Course No. 80170
10 lectures | ~47 minutes each
The Great Courses Page
Practiced in the East for centuries, the flowing movements of tai chi have been known to promote health and inner harmony. According to Chinese medicine, the benefits of this ancient martial art come from unblocking and encouraging the proper flow of chi, the energy force that flows throughout the body. Western medicine hasn’t typically addressed the body’s “energy forces,” but that might be about to change. According to the 2019 Harvard University Women’s Health Watch, “tai chi is often described as meditation in motion, but it might well be called medication in motion,” thanks to its uses in prevention and treatment of health issues.
Welcome to Tai Chi for Aging with Strength and Tranquility, led by International Master Tai Chi Instructor David-Dorian Ross. Although learning a new form of exercise can feel intimidating, Mr. Ross removes any potential anxiety with his calming voice and easy manner, as he encourages you to just follow along and copy his healing movements. As he explains throughout the course: There is nothing to memorize here and nothing to learn. As long as you keep breathing, smiling, and moving, you’re doing everything exactly right.
Tai Chi Fit Postures
In this course, you’ll explore many of the classic tai chi postures as you exercise along with your instructor in a slow, continual rhythm. The goal of each program is for you to enjoy the many benefits that come from tai chi’s gentle movements-not for you to memorize the tai chi forms or focus on the technique of any particular posture.
However, even without trying, you’ll begin to recognize some of the tai chi postures through repetition-especially those whose names describe the movements, including:
Brushing the Knee,
Looking for the Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean,
Old Woman Digs in the Garden,
Patting the High Horse,
Rooster Stands on One Leg,
Wagging the Tail, and
Wise Owl Looks Behind.
These postures, and many others, involve the slow lifting of the arms, twisting of the torso, bending forward, lifting the legs, and other movements that help improve range of motion, strength, and balance without the typical risk of injury or strain that can come from a high-impact workout.
Tai Chi Fusion
Mr. Ross describes tai chi as a workout that is also a system of self-defense, a shield against disease, a beautiful dance, and a living philosophy of harmony and balance. What else could you possibly need? Actually, Mr. Ross says there are times we might want to take our exercise practice just a little further than tai chi alone-especially as we get older. For that reason, he has created Tai Chi Fusion.
The fusion concept is based on an ancient Chinese philosophy known as the theory of applied elements: wood, water, fire, earth, and metal. Each different mind-body discipline represents a different element, and the fusion of two elements together teaches us about a new principle that enhances our experience.
In the Fusion series, Mr. Ross combines the continual flow of tai chi movements with added weight in Tai Chi Fusion: Iron, with the Chinese martial art of kung fu in Tai Chi Fusion: Fire, and with yoga in Tai Chi Fusion: Bamboo. As in all the programs in this series, there is nothing to memorize, nothing to perform, nothing to learn. Simply by copying the movements of your instructor, you’ll have the opportunity to deepen your physical practice, as well as your understanding of the tai chi philosophy.
Tai Chi Fusion: Iron. Although this workout will build strength above and beyond that of a traditional tai chi workout-whether you use weighted tai chi sticks or wooden spoons from your kitchen-that is not the workout’s goal. Instead, the goal is to explore the principle of contrast. As you pick up your sticks, work with them, and then put them down in repeated cycles, you can’t help but notice the heaviness of the sticks and the lightness you feel in your arms when you put them down, a feeling Mr. Ross calls “marshmallow hands.”
Tai Chi Fusion: Fire. The martial art of kung fu, with its whirlwind of kicks and punches, is both a deadly martial art and a health practice. Together, kung fu and tai chi represent two sides of the same coin, the external and the internal of martial arts. This fusion workout blends the power of kung fu with the softness and flow of tai chi, and highlights the principle of intensity.
Tai Chi Fusion: Bamboo. This fusion practice combines the disciplines of tai chi and yoga. It highlights the principle of surrender, providing the opportunity to reach and stretch our bodies and minds, but without pushing. Instead, we learn to let go in a practice that emphasizes patience, mindfulness, and gratitude. Surrendering allows for a deeper level of flow, which your instructor describes as “a delicious infusion of chi energy that makes your body supple and makes your tai chi movements relaxed.”
Workouts Tailored to Older Adults
Mr. Ross speaks from experience when he talks about the changes that happen as our bodies age. At age 60, and aware of older adults’ unique needs when it comes to exercise, he has created five specific series to address those changes. Whether you’re more comfortable holding onto a chair rather than doing exercises in the center of your room, or even if you’re more comfortable in the chair, the workouts in this series will meet your needs. These wonderful exercises are adaptable for any age or fitness level.
Numerous organizations recommend tai chi as the best form of exercise to help older adults avoid falling; one of the most common causes of death in certain age groups. With its slow, meditative movements and non-impact format, tai chi is a safe way to build strength and coordination. But this specialized workout series goes even further, providing extra attention to building strength and balance by:
Practicing balance while the eyes change position of focus, recognizing that moving the eyes and head can affect the movement of the entire body;
Focusing on gentle but continual movements of the joints to help heal the pain and inflammation of arthritis and other age-related joint problems; and
Providing seated tai chi options for those who are not comfortable standing for any reason, options that provide the same benefits for body, mind, and spirit as standing tai chi.
In these workouts and all the other workouts of Tai Chi for Aging with Strength and Tranquility, Mr. Ross stresses that tai chi practitioners shouldn’t be concerned about whether they’re seated, touching a wall for stability and balance, or standing in the center of the room. “Is it comfortable? Is it fun? Does it feel beautiful?” he asks. “We don’t care about how it looks. We care about how it feels inside.” With this course, you will be able to follow a tai chi master along the path to reduced stress and increased well-being.
00 – Tai Chi for Aging with Strength and Tranquility
01 – Tai Chi Fit in Paradise
03 – Tai Chi Fusion Iron
04 – Tai Chi Fusion Bamboo
05 – Tai Chi Fit 24 Form
06 – Tai Chi Fit over 50 Balance Exercises
07 – Tai Chi Fit over 50 Seated Workout
08 – Tai Chi Fit over 60 Gentle Exercises for Beginners
09 – Tai Chi Fit over 60 Healthy Joints
10 – Tai Chi Fit over 60 Live Longer, Feel Younger
Professor David-Dorian Ross, International Master Tai Chi Instructor
“Tai chi and qigong are often referred as “treasures of Chinese culture”; studying them is like holding a beautiful jewel, where each time you turn, you see a new facet.”
David-Dorian Ross is the founder and CEO of TaijiFit and the creator of the TaijiFit mind-body exercise program. He has a B.A. in Human Movement Studies from San Francisco State University, has completed graduate course work in Physical Education and Chinese, and is currently developing a project with the head of the Harvard Medical School research department to study the stress-reduction benefits of tai chi (taiji) in the workplace.
Trained in China with championship martial arts coaches, Mr. Ross has had an illustrious career in competitive tai chi, winning seven U.S. gold medals, two world bronze medals, and a world silver medal-the highest awards ever given to an American for international tai chi performance. He was the founder and chief instructor of the Honolulu T’ai Chi Academy and a certified continuing educator for the American Council on Exercise. Mr. Ross is the host of the PBS series T’ai Chi: Health and Happiness and the author of five books on health and wellness, including Exercising the Soul: How Tai Ch’i Connects You to Your Authentic Self. Since 2012, he has collaborated with international action film star Jet Li on a mission to introduce tai chi to 100 million new people worldwide by the year 2020.
Professor Ross participated in our Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about how to bring your whole life into better balance and harmony through the practice of Tai Chi and Qigong.