Both Tai chi and yoga are ancient practices used for mind-body exercise. Despite what you may think, they vary quite a bit! You may wonder if the benefits of Tai chi vs. Yoga are also varied or if they have many the same benefits. Well, look no further! We have the answers you want regarding the practice of Tai chi vs. yoga. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai chi is an ancient form of mind-body exercise, as well as including some spiritual elements. Tai chi is also referred to as “shadowboxing.” So if you have heard of that term, it’s the same as Tai chi! Despite its slow movements, Tai chi is a type of martial art. The fact that it is a martial art means that you can learn some incredibly effective self-defense movements by practicing this mind-body martial art.
Tai Chi Basics
So what is it like to perform Tai chi? It involves a series of slow movements that all flow seamlessly from one to the next. Since these movements are slow in practice, you may think it’s odd that I referred to it as a type of self-defense, but when the movements are memorized and sped up, they are useful in dangerous situations.
As well as moving slowly, you also focus on your mind, breathing, and balance, much like Yoga! In essence, Tai chi pulls the mind, body, and spirit together and creates tranquility in the mind as well as the body.
Benefits of Tai Chi
Now that we have the basics of what exactly Tai chi is let’s talk about what makes Tai chi beneficial for YOU.
Strengthens the Body
Although Tai chi may not look difficult, once you try it, you may change your mind. You don’t necessarily need to be doing HIIT exercises or lifting weights to gain muscle and endurance. Through the slow, precise movements of Tai chi, you will steadily become stronger.
Strengthens the Mind
Along with a fitter physique, the focus and calm involved in Tai chi can help quiet your mind and relieve mental fatigue. Many experts believe that practicing Tai chi regularly can even help lessen psychological disorder symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
May Improve Balance
Another fantastic quality of regular Tai chi practice is its ability to help you improve your balance. Good balance is beneficial for anyone, but especially for the elderly, since lack of balance can significantly increase the risk of falling and being injured.
Summary: Tai Chi Pros and Cons
- Improves balance
- teaches self-defense movements
- All ages can learn and benefit from it
- You don’t need equipment to practice
- It improves mental and physical health
- It may be slightly challenging to find teachers in your area (but that’s what YouTube is for!)
What is Yoga?
Between Tai chi vs. yoga, Yoga is the more popular of the two practices, at least in the US. Therefore, most people know a lot more about Yoga than they do Tai chi! Nevertheless, we will cover some basics. Yoga is another practice involving mind-body synergy, although it is NOT a martial art, as Tai chi is. However, Yoga is another very ancient practice and may involve meditation. It frequently requires practitioners to slowly transition from one pose to another and often hold each pose for several breaths.
Benefits of Yoga
So, how do the benefits of Yoga compare to those of Tai chi?
Perfect for the Elderly
Although Tai chi may also work well for older folks, Yoga is potentially an even better health and fitness option for them. Tai chi is an ideal fit due to it being such a low-impact way of exercising. The movements are slow, and if you are just starting to practice, you can use a chair or yoga blocks to help.
Another reason yoga is ideal for the elderly is that it can significantly improve balance. As we age and our muscles atrophy from underuse, loss of balance is incredibly common, and normal, even. However, by incorporating Yoga into the routine of the elderly, it can make them less likely to fall due to their balance.
Improves Flexibility and Mobility
Fitness buffs compare strength vs. flexibility often. Both are important, but I think strength is often rated more highly than flexibility. Unfortunately, flexibility gets swept under the rug far too often. Both are very important and gained through Yoga, and flexibility can be incredibly helpful even throughout the day-to-day routine.
When it comes to overall muscle health, keeping them limber is essential. You will feel better, and your muscles looser if you stretch regularly. Through increasing your flexibility, you will also have improved mobility and fewer strains (back pain, anyone?). Back pain is one of the most common ailments of the modern office worker. Yoga is full of stretches and poses that will help you gain mobility, so give it a try if you have flexibility issues!
Aids in Relaxation
If you are uptight a lot of the time and want to calm your mind and body, Yoga is a good place to start. The meditation elements and calming poses in Yoga are ideal for helping you calm down and start or end your day on a relaxing, positive note. It also can be helpful to do some calming yoga poses right before bed to settle your mind.
Summary: Yoga Pros and Cons
- Aids in flexibility
- Good for all ages
- Improves overall mobility
- Helps strengthen the body and mind
- You may need some equipment!
Comparison: Tai Chi vs. Yoga
Strength vs. Flexibility
When it comes to these two aspects, Tai chi may win out in the strength area, while Yoga offers more in the field of flexibility.
In actuality, both Tai chi and Yoga provide increased strength and flexibility. Yoga geared towards stretching and will almost certainly help you develop more flexibility than Tai chi. On the other hand, the poses in Tai chi build strength and self-defense skills.
Ideal Age Range?
When comparing the ideal age ranges for those who practice Tai chi vs. Yoga, the results are about the same! One of the most impressive aspects of both Yoga and Tai chi is their ability to be practiced by people of all ages. The elderly, disabled, or otherwise impaired can start these exercises at any time and benefit from them immensely. It is never too late to start!
Balance is another area where comparing Tai chi vs. Yoga comes down to the wire. Both can improve balance greatly, although Yoga comes out ahead by a thin margin. However, you will still gain balance from Tai chi! So, you really can’t go wrong with either option here.
If you’re trying to choose between Tai chi vs. yoga for weight loss, you may have a stalemate. Both are great at helping you move and burn calories, but due to their slow movements, it may come down to how long you practice and how challenging the poses you do are. Some do hot Yoga specifically to help lose weight, but I would suggest just following a healthy diet and practicing Yoga or Tai chi every day or two to make sure you aren’t sedentary.
What’s the bottom line? Tai chi vs. yoga are two forms of mind-body exercise that are renowned because THEY WORK. The one key difference between them is that Yoga does not teach any self-defense and is NOT considered a martial art. On the other hand, despite its slow movements, Tai chi can be very helpful in dangerous situations and is, in fact, a martial art.
Tai chi and Yoga will both immensely benefit you, and you can’t go wrong with trying either one!