Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong [TTC Video]
04 December 2014, 12:51
2014 | Course No 1908 | M4V, AVC1, 640x360 | English, AAC, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 11.43GB
If you’ve ever seen a group of people moving in exquisitely graceful dance-like exercises in your local park, gym, or community center, you have witnessed the ancient Chinese arts of tai chi (taiji) and qigong. These ordinary people are improving their health, strength, balance, concentration, and mental well-being—and they are having fun while doing it! Best of all, you can enjoy all these benefits yourself, regardless of your current level of physical fitness.
Tai chi is a philosophy of balance and a pinnacle of the martial arts, known as tai chi chuan (or taijiquan), which means “the ultimate martial art.” Qigong, which is traditionally studied alongside tai chi, means “energy exercise.” Together, these two disciplines are transforming the way people take care of themselves. No need for high-intensity workouts that focus on a limited set of muscles and leave you feeling drained. Instead there is a better, centuries-old way to exercise that has these advantages:
- The slow-motion moves of tai chi and qigong utilize more of your muscles than other exercises, giving you a total-body workout.
- Tai chi and qigong are meditation in motion. You lose yourself in the rhythmic flow of the forms. Anxiety and the cares of daily life dissolve away.
- The documented medical effects of tai chi and qigong include improved heart, lung, bone, and mental health, and an enhanced immune system.
- Tai chi and qigong require no equipment. You can do them anywhere and need only enough space “for an ox to lie down,” as the traditional expression puts it.
- People of all ages enjoy tai chi and qigong, while the low intensity of the poses makes them especially well suited for older people.
Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong is a complete introduction to the practice, history, benefits, and philosophy of these immensely rewarding activities. In 24 half-hour lessons, you learn the fundamentals of tai chi and qigong from an internationally renowned tai chi champion and trainer, David-Dorian Ross, who has been practicing tai chi for more than 35 years.
No other presentation of these venerable arts is as comprehensive and enjoyable. Unfailingly friendly and helpful, Mr. Ross explains each movement in easy-to-follow steps. He has a gift for anticipating a beginner’s questions, leaving no doubt about how you should be positioned for each pose.
And where other video products exist that emphasize mimicking an instructor’s choreography, which can end in boredom or burnout, this course is a multi-layered combination of practical instruction aimed at physical and mental health, together with deep insight into how to motivate and enrich movement and mindfulness in your own life, using the best of qigong and tai chi.
Those already experienced in tai chi and qigong will gain an unprecedented scope of understanding and will find Mr. Ross’s mindset and detailed instructions invaluable for refining their own skills. And his presentation of background topics, such as Chinese philosophy, medicine, and martial arts history, will enrich the practice of tai chi and qigong for everyone.
Master the World’s Most Popular Tai Chi Routine
Each lesson of Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong starts with a standing qigong exercise to get you energized. In the middle, you perform an easy tai chi movement to get you into the flow. You conclude each lesson with a posture from the Yang family short form, the best known of the different tai chi styles. The 24-movement Yang family short form, often called simply the short form, is the most widely recognized and performed tai chi routine in the world. When you see tai chi practitioners in the park—from Beijing to San Francisco to Paris—they are most likely doing the short form. By mastering one segment of the short form in each lesson, you will be able to join them, and even step out on your own, in no time!
The short form includes such memorable movements as Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane, White Crane Spreads Wings, and Waving Hands Like Clouds. The names are mnemonics to help you remember the graceful shapes you create as you take a step, turn, raise your arms, and then move forward, back, or to the side, making a distinctive figure depending on the movement. One posture beautifully merges with the next, with moves that are the foundation for many other tai chi routines.
You also learn about four other family styles of tai chi, as well as personal modifications you can make so that tai chi and qigong will work for you, no matter what your level of fitness or flexibility. You even investigate rudimentary weapons exercises, as well as a two-person exercise of tai chi, called push hands, that you play with a partner.
Get in Balance and Improve Your Health
Studies by Harvard Medical School and other research centers show that tai chi and qigong have a wide range of health benefits. These include:
- Blood pressure and cholesterol: Tai chi and qigong are good for your heart, with effects including lowered blood pressure and improved levels of cholesterol.
- Weight loss: Tai chi burns calories at a surprisingly high rate and reduces stress, making weight loss easier. It is also an excellent activity for people who are overweight.
- Healthy back: One of the principles of tai chi and qigong is proper body alignment, which leads to good posture. The practice also helps control and relieve back pain.
- Managing chronic disease: Tai chi and qigong are an effective adjunct to standard medical therapies for chronic diseases, helping you manage symptoms and stay healthier.
- Better balance: Even simple tai chi and qigong poses improve balance, reducing the risk of falls for older people and those with neurological problems.
Balance also encompasses the way you lead your life, both at home and at work. We are all familiar with the competing demands on our time and attention that produce stress. Practicing tai chi and qigong can help resolve these tensions—not by making them disappear, but by putting them in perspective and making them manageable. Whenever life is in balance, everything works better. This inner harmony is represented by the ancient Chinese yin-yang symbol, and you will be intrigued to learn how completely this idea of balanced opposites permeates Chinese philosophy, medicine, and martial arts—and how tai chi epitomizes the best of those traditions, bringing them together for you in ways that are eminently practical, and potentially life-changing.
Take a Journey of Health and Fulfillment
Impressively graceful, Mr. Ross looks like he was born to do Chinese martial arts. But it’s inspiring to know that he was never athletic growing up; that as an adult he couldn’t sit still long enough to meditate in a seated posture, yet he fell in love with the moving meditation of tai chi; and that he has gone on to win the highest awards ever given to an American for international tai chi performance.
There’s no reason you can’t take a similar journey of health and fulfillment. “The best way to begin,” says this consummate practitioner and guide, “is to find a joy in the basic rhythms. All you have to do is put one foot forward and start.” Take that step and experience the joy of movement yourself with Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong.
- The Snake and the Crane
- First Steps in a Journey
- Harmony and Balance
- The Ultimate Martial Art
- The Five Families of Tai Chi Practice
- Qigong and the Five Animal Frolics
- Energy Exercise: A Branch of Chinese Medicine
- The First Pillar of Practice: Forms
- The Second Pillar: Push Hands for Two
- The Third Pillar: Standing Meditation
- Benefits to the Heart and Immune System
- A Healthy Weight and a Healthy Mind
- Tai Chi Legends: Stories of the Masters
- Reading the Tai Chi Classics
- A Superior Workout: Use More of Your Muscles
- Eight Pieces of Brocade and a Better Back
- Tai Chi Weapons: When Hands Are Not Empty
- Using the Mind: Inner Organizing Principles
- Mental and Physical Flow
- Creating Space for Choices
- Flow at Work: When Business Is in Balance
- Energy Flow in Your Surroundings
- Taking Practice Deeper
- The Evolution of Tai Chi
Understanding Cultural and Human Geography [TTC Video]
04 December 2014, 09:19
2014 | Course No 1761 | M4V, AVC1, 640x360 | English, AAC, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 11.27GB
No one is an island. The community where you live, the food you eat, and the people you know are all part of a global chain of connections. Humans have transformed the planet over the past 10,000 years, and today, thanks to our transportation infrastructure, telecommunications, and a restless economy, the pace of globalization is accelerating. It is more important than ever to understand this chain of connections in order to tackle some of the biggest questions about human life on earth:
- Is our current population growth sustainable?
- How will we adapt to the changing climate?
- Why are some nations rich and others poor?
- What does globalization mean for local cultures?
- What is the relationship between geography and the nation-state?
Tackle these questions and more in Understanding Cultural and Human Geography, a groundbreaking course that surveys the geographical context for human activity. Over the course of 24 eye-opening lectures, Professor Paul Robbins of the University of Wisconsin–Madison takes you on an interdisciplinary voyage across time and around the world to consider the dual nature of our relationship with “place.” You’ll see how our environment influences human life, and you’ll consider the way human life, in turn, influences the environment.
If you took a high school geography course, you likely spent your time memorizing countries and capitals, oceans and continents, rivers and mountain ranges. This is “descriptive geography,” a straightforward catalog of what the world looks like. But the field of geography is much more complex, much more dynamic, and much more human than a course emphasizing memorization would have you believe.
Understanding Cultural and Human Geography shows you the full range of the geographer’s purview. Beyond simple description, this course reveals the underlying structures that explain why the world is the way it is. You’ll see that geography is truly interdisciplinary, covering such a broad range of fields as:
- Cultural Studies
Professor Robbins introduces you to each of these discrete fields and the connections between them, so you come away with a comprehensive understanding of human activity on earth. Understanding global trends and connections—from environmental changes such as deforestation to the way money and labor slosh around the globe—will give you new insights into the story of human civilization and current events.
Study the Relationship Between Humans and the Environment
One key theme of this course is that “place” is a construct. People make (and constantly re-make) places in response to myriad circumstances, ranging from economic conditions to changes in the ecology around them. Indeed, humans have taken over the earth so completely that some geologists now refer to our era as the Anthropocene—the “human era.” But is this a good thing?
After introducing the concepts of “place” and “region,” Professor Robbins examines the many ways humans have affected—or been affected by—the environment. For example:
- Human have transformed the land through deforestation and the building of roads and cities.
- Thanks to a growing population, we have harvested much of the biosphere for commercial farming and energy production.
- International travel and transportation has led to the spread of disease and introduced invasive species to new lands.
- Pollutants from the Industrial Revolution have altered our climate.
While it is tempting to despair over humanity’s takeover of the planet, Professor Robbins shows how the picture is complex, and that there is reason for optimism. Much of the human impact on the earth is not an inexorable march of destruction without any means of revitalization. In the case of deforestation, for instance, trends such as urbanization combined with governmental policies and the boom in forest industries suggest forests won’t be going extinct any time soon.
Immerse Yourself in the Global Economy
In addition to the study of particular environments, cultural geography seeks to find connections around the world. For instance, what does the outbreak of disease in one location have to do with the global price of gold? What does the international agriculture system have to do with the suburban American lawn? Why are Chinese investors buying land in Africa?
From India to Istanbul to the American Midwest, Professor Robbins takes you on an exciting journey across disciplines to show you the effects of the “great acceleration”—the rapid pace of globalization and cultural change. In this journey, you will:
- look at the structure of our economic system, from the capture and processing of raw materials to commercial sales and data management;
- see how the Columbian Exchange changed the world economy after 1492;
- review the geography of wealth and poverty, including indices for measuring standard of living;
- consider how our modern transportation system nullified the barriers of distance, as well as the effects this development had on labor and migration; and
- unpack the trend toward urbanization and reflect on what this trend means for the future.
Beyond examining the financial impact of the “great acceleration,” you’ll discover the cultural implications of a world economy. For example, as cultures become more and more homogenized, thousands of languages are disappearing. Professor Robbins explores the wellspring of culture and delves into the complex relationship between culture and place.
Consider the Political Implications of Geography
The course ends with a unit on geopolitics, the study of geography and political power. You’ll visit several hotbeds of geopolitical activity—including Afghanistan, Ukraine, North Korea, India and Pakistan, and the Balkans—to explore the thorny issues of geography, ethnicity, and statehood.
You’ll also study several geopolitical theories, including Great Britain’s 19th-century “heartland theory” of international dominance and the United States’ Domino Theory of communism in Southeast Asia. Finally, you’ll look at the relationship between economics and geopolitics in the context of international agreements such as the European Union, as well as the pros and cons of international governance.
Think Like a Geographer
If you open any newspaper, the headlines demonstrate the world is always changing. The beauty of Understanding Cultural and Human Geography is that Professor Robbins provides you a methodology for understanding human life on earth. Whether thinking about environmental policies, cultural homogenization, economic circumstances, or geopolitical tension, there are no easy answers.
Beyond the excitement of traveling the globe, geography is an active field—a field that has the potential to completely change the way you view the world. You’ll learn to trace a chain of explanations from an event on one side of the earth to a seemingly unrelated cause on the other side. When you complete this course, you’ll have all the tools you need to look beyond the headlines and analyze world events in a whole new way.
- Writing the World: The Mapmakers Craft
- The Problem with Geographical Determinism
- Anthropocene: The Age of Human Impact
- Climate Change and Civilization
- Global Land Change
- The End of Global Population Growth
- The Agricultural Puzzle
- Disease Geography
- Political Ecology
- Economic Geography: Globalization Origins
- The Columbian Exchange
- Uneven Development and Global Poverty
- The New Global Economy
- Restless Humanity: The Migration Conundrum
- Urbanization: The Rise of New World Cities
- Geography of Language
- Understanding Cultural Geography
- The Importance of Place
- Cultural Commodification
- Culture, Power, and the Politics of Meaning
- The Geopolitical Imagination
- Regionalism and the Rise of New States
- Supranationalism: Taking on Big Problems
- Future Geographies
A Visual Guide to the Universe with the Smithsonian [TTC Video]
30 November 2014, 14:00
2014 | Course No 1893 | M4V, AVC1, 640x360 | English, AAC, 2 Ch | 18x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.85GB
For the first time in human history, we can see the full splendor and mystery of the universe, thanks to instruments on scores of planetary probes and observatories that have been launched into space since the 1990s.
From Saturn’s rings to the heart of the Milky Way, and from colliding galaxies to cataclysmic gamma-ray bursts at the edges of visible space, some of the most spectacular sights in the cosmos are now as easy to see as the stars above. Many of these cosmic phenomena occur at wavelengths of light that are beyond the range of human vision and can only be detected by special instruments in space.
The dazzling new images are not just a data bonanza for scientists; they have entered popular culture, appearing in art galleries and coffee-table books, as well as on posters, T-shirts, and even postage stamps. Above all, this stunning archive is providing a new perspective on our dynamic universe, including views such as these:
- Solar magnetic storms: The Solar Dynamics Observatory has recorded dramatic time-lapse footage of the sun in ultraviolet light, including a huge explosion of material from the solar atmosphere, with debris smashing back into the sun’s seething outer layer.
- Runaway star: A normal-looking nearby star is in fact racing through space more than 20 times faster than a rifle bullet. The action shows up in an infrared view, which beautifully reveals a shock wave of interstellar gas in front of the star, like the bow wave on a speedboat.
- Galactic crash scene: When viewed in wavelengths beyond human vision, Andromeda, the nearest large galaxy to our own, displays evidence of having been struck 200 million years ago by a dwarf galaxy—just as Andromeda will one day collide with our Milky Way.
- Dark matter revealed: Most of the matter in the universe doesn't emit, absorb, or scatter light at any wavelength. The most convincing proof that this dark matter must exist shows up in combined X-ray and visible light images of distant colliding galaxy clusters.
And that’s only the beginning. Our instruments in space have prospected for water and life on Mars, detected thousands of possible planets orbiting other stars, mapped superheated matter swirling into gigantic black holes, and deciphered the all-pervasive echo of the big bang, which is the key to understanding the large-scale structure of the universe.
The fantastic scientific story behind these remarkable images is yours in A Visual Guide to the Universe, produced in partnership with the Smithsonian—one of the world’s most storied and exceptional educational institutions. These 18 lavishly illustrated lectures that take you from our neighborhood of the solar system to the farthest reaches of space and time. Your guide is Professor David M. Meyer, an award-winning teacher, popular public speaker, and distinguished astronomer at Northwestern University.
Greatest Hits of Astronomy’s Golden Age
Designed for astronomy novices and practiced observers alike, A Visual Guide to the Universe covers a wide range of telling phenomena that have made our era a golden age of astronomical discovery. In selecting the images, Professor Meyer has aimed for variety and scientific significance, while also focusing on key concepts in astronomy, making this course an ideal visual tour through today’s thrilling science of the universe.
As Professor Meyer discusses different images, you learn background ideas such as the electromagnetic spectrum and the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for charting stellar evolution. You also hear about techniques for finding extrasolar planets in the glare of faraway stars and the breakthroughs that make today’s cutting-edge space probes and observatories possible. Illuminating diagrams and animations help explain what’s going on in each image.
Meet the Explorers
Many people associate space exploration with human spaceflight. But the most productive scientific workhorses of the space age have been robotic instruments such as these:
- Cassini probe: The first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, Cassini has been sending back high-resolution images of the ringed planet and its moons since 2004. Among the findings: The moon Enceladus has towering surface geysers spewing water ice and organic molecules into space.
- Hubble Space Telescope: Capable of resolving objects 10 times smaller than the largest ground-based telescopes, Hubble has been revolutionizing optical astronomy for more than two decades. Its countless images include breathtaking studies of far distant galaxies.
- Spitzer Space Telescope: Details of star birth are often hidden from optical view inside dark clouds of interstellar dust. But the process is crystal clear in infrared, which Spitzer is designed to detect, making it the ideal instrument for observing star and solar system formation.
- Chandra X-Ray Observatory: Extremely energetic processes in the universe produce X-rays, which are very difficult to focus. Chandra does just that, allowing it to image the violent events connected with black holes and other phenomena that heat gas to extreme temperatures.
Among your many adventures, you explore the red planet with the Mars rovers, orbit an asteroid with the Dawn space probe, solve the mystery of gamma-ray bursts with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, and take an extraordinary “baby picture” of the early universe with the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. In case after case, you use multiple instruments to view the same object at different wavelengths, learning how each portion of the electromagnetic spectrum contains clues that let you assemble a remarkably complete picture of events happening up to billions of light-years away.
Of course, the true space explorers are the astronomers and other scientists who direct the activities of these far-flung machines. Professor Meyer is one such investigator, having used space telescopes many times in his research. He speaks from experience when he describes the astounding missions—exploits that can be compared to those of Columbus, Magellan, and Lewis and Clark.
With A Visual Guide to the Universe, you have an opportunity to embark on our era’s greatest voyages of discovery, guided by Professor Meyer, the Smithsonian, and The Great Courses. Without leaving home, you’ll find the view is truly out of this world!
- Probing the Cosmos from Space
- The Magnetic Beauty of the Active Sun
- Mars: Water and the Search for Life
- Vesta and the Asteroid Belt
- Saturn: The Rings of Enchantment
- The Ice Moons Europa and Enceladus
- The Search for Other Earths
- The Swan Nebula
- The Seven Sisters and Their Stardust Veil
- Future Supernova, Eta Carinae
- Runaway Star, Zeta Ophiuchi
- The Center of the Milky Way
- The Andromeda Galaxy
- Hubble's Galaxy Zoo
- The Brightest Quasar
- The Dark Side of the Bullet Cluster
- The Cosmic Reach of Gamma-Ray Bursts
- The Afterglow of the Big Bang