Tai Chi for Aging with Strength and Tranquility
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.
01: Tai Chi Fit in Paradise
On the Hawaiian sand and with the beautiful Pacific Ocean in the background, your instructor takes you through a tai chi practice that includes a warm up, two workout sessions, and a cool down. As you listen to the waves and watch their motion, you’ll gently move side to side and up and down with the classic tai chi postures Embrace the Moon, Penetrating Heaven and the Earth, Cloud Hands, and more.
02: Tai Chi Fusion: Fire
This practice combines tai chi with the martial art of kung fu, which translates to high-level work. Together, they combine into a practice focused on intensity, the most intense workout of the series. Discover how to bring the fire into your whole being, mind, energy, and spirit, while still maintaining a physical practice that is appropriate for your body and physical capabilities. Explore the classic postures of Snake Creeping through the Grass, Solitary Whip, and more.
03: Tai Chi Fusion: Iron
Combining the principles of weight lifting and tai chi, this practice is a lesson in contrast and mindfulness. As you practice with your weighted sticks—or with lightweight wooden spoons from your kitchen, as you choose—contrasting aspects of life will become apparent: heavy and light, what you do and do not do, what you notice and ignore. Explore the classic postures of Playing the Pipa and Seizing the Sparrow’s Tail, among many others.
04: Tai Chi Fusion: Bamboo
Your instructor teaches this gentle workout in a beautiful bamboo forest. Combining yoga and tai chi in a practice that emphasizes the principle of surrender, you will learn about gratitude, benevolence, and generosity, especially toward yourself. The two disciplines progress seamlessly through the workout and include the classic tai chi postures of Sinking the Chi and Fending Off the Monkey, among others.
05: Tai Chi Fit: 24 Form
This diverse practice includes four separate workout options, as well as a warm up and cool down. As you follow along with your instructor along at the pace and intensity that works best for you—and you will be continually encouraged to do exactly that—you will be exposed to a wide variety of classic tai chi postures, including The Fair Maiden Weaves the Loom, The White Crane Spreads Its Wings, and Bouncing on the Toes Seven Times to Drive Away All Illness.
06: Tai Chi Fit over 50: Balance Exercises
Since the mid-1990s, the American Medical Association has recommended tai chi as the number-one form of exercise for maintaining balance and fall prevention. In this program, you’ll be encouraged to do the workout the way you need to do it with respect to your own balance—holding on to a wall or even keeping just one finger on the back of a chair for stability. As you work on building the muscles needed for balance, you will explore the use of weighted tai chi balls as well as the classic postures of Old Woman Digs in the Garden and The Monkey, among others.
07: Tai Chi Fit over 50: Seated Workout
There are many different reasons for any individual to do a seated workout. In this program, you’ll learn that practicing tai chi from a seated position can be just as beneficial and challenging as standing. You’ll follow your teacher’s gentle movements from his own chair as you explore the classic tai chi postures of Embracing the Moon and The Opening of Your Heart, among many others.
08: Tai Chi Fit over 60: Gentle Exercises for Beginners
This program provides the most gentle option for tai chi beginners—of any age. As with the other programs in this series, there is nothing to learn or memorize. Just follow along with your instructor as he moves slightly up and down and gently side to side. With his easy manner and relaxed sense of humor, you’ll feel immediately comfortable in this ancient form of exercise. And while you’re following along, you’ll also be exploring the classic tai chi postures of Opening the Door and The Twisting Dragon, among others.
09: Tai Chi Fit over 60: Healthy Joints
While pain and inflammation in the joints can keep us from doing the things we love, lack of activity makes the joints weaker and leads to a downward spiral. Tai chi is well-known to heal the joints with some simple movements, even practicing just a few minutes a day. While you’re copying your instructors gentle movements in this program, you’ll be exploring the classic tai chi postures of Princess on the Mountaintop and Holding Up the Heavens like a Pillar.
10: Tai Chi Fit over 60: Live Longer, Feel Younger
As your instructor points out, if you want to live longer and feel younger, then you have to look at the people who live long, fruitful lives and do what they do. The best way to take care of your human machine certainly includes a routine tai chi practice. With his relaxed and humorous style, your instructor invites you to “have some fun,” as you continue on the path of your tai chi practice—exploring the classic tai chi postures of Cloud Hands and Sinking the Chi, among many others.