Many people who do not know say that Tai Chi is simply a Chinese form of yoga, but is this true? Why then is it not simply called yoga? Where are the similarities precisely? Where are the differences? Should we practice yoga or tai chi? The answer is both simple and complex. There are as many fundamental similarities as there are essential differences. Let's try to discover them and clarify a bit.
As a spectator, yoga or tai chi is more or less the same thing, relaxing gestures by the performer, postures, and movements in order to benefit health, mental concentration, personal and spiritual development, stress management, relaxation, and a harmonious atmosphere and meditation. But they are not the same.
Yoga or Tai Chi?
Yoga in all its diversity is a system of movement with hundreds of postures and performances that are deeply rooted in a cultural, philosophical, and spiritual tradition, especially Hinduism and Buddhism. Depending on the style, the postures, and the physical movements, it gives a combined impression of asceticism and athleticism, and sometimes even unnatural. The effects on the contrary are undeniable and millions of people practice it. It is good for health, and people aspire to happiness.
There are different types of yoga, starting from simple and strict postures towards slow movements, with extremely intense physical training.
Tai Chi also knows different styles in a limited number, such as the Yang style, which is the best known. Relaxing and smooth execution, this art of movement is at once a martial art, a form of self-defense with limitless applications. Paradoxically, this martial aspect does not carry any sign of aggressiveness or competition.
In addition, it is a practice aimed at young people through intensive training, which provides aspects of perseverance and patience like classic sports but based on an approach of respect for the body.
In this way, Tai Chi is transmitted from generation to generation for centuries as a sport, defense system, and preventive pharmacy that brings people pleasure, health, well-being, and optimal condition. Its operation is very subtle and is undeniably based on the essential principles of energy, yin-yang balance, medicinal system, and refined breathing techniques that are the basis of Chinese culture and art.
Yoga is an ancient practice from India that seeks harmony between the body and the spirit. The practice is characterized by postures that aim to progressively develop body flexibility but also breathing capacity, attention, listening, improving physical condition, relaxation state, concentration, self-knowledge, and releasing muscular tension.
With frequent practice there is a beneficial action on chronic problems, considerably reducing stress. The postures or asanas work all parts of the body by stretching and toning the muscles and massaging the internal organs. In this way, the slowing down of the respiratory rhythm is trained and the breathing flow is regulated. Relaxation and meditation tend to calm the mind and emotions.
The practice of Tai Chi consists of very slow movements and it is inspired by the martial arts originating in China.
Tai Chi is more oriented towards movement than yoga, and it is a very slow martial art that makes postures work by chaining movements, and whose exercises are intended to act on breathing and flexibility. Tai Chi allows the harmonization of the energy flow and acts gently on the body both from an external and internal point of view.
One advantage that tai chi has over yoga is that its postures are much simpler and can be performed regardless of your physical condition or age.
Tai Chi and Yoga: Their Benefits
• Both reduce stress and anxiety due to breathing techniques.
• Improve your balance: Both are great for those people who do not have this highly developed sense and who constantly fall help them to strengthen it as well as the mobility of the joints.
• Both favors weight loss: if you practice them daily, they can cause that together with a healthy and balanced diet your weight will be reduced.
• Helps your body generate more immune cells: cell renewal contributes to increased longevity.
• Reduces chronic pain: people who have chronic diseases such as fibromyalgia can help reduce discomfort and even aerobic exercise along with meditation techniques lower blood pressure.
• Strengthens the arms and legs: although exercises are not carried out with weight and are slow movements in the tai chi case, it helps to strengthen the extremities. Yoga can helps much more in this aspect.
• It favors the mobility of the joints and prevents diseases: some pathology related to the joints such as arthritis can be prevented with positions that favor their mobility.
1. The Movements
Clearly, one of the most prominent differences is the type of movement performed in one discipline and the other. In the case of tai chi, the movements are fluid but smooth. Because these movements are done slowly, balance is very important.
However, in yoga, you try to stay in the same posture for a moment and then change to the next one always with the combination of breathing. Here, the stretch is very present.
2. The postures
As I mentioned at the beginning, both disciplines have different branches, some softer than others. However, they can always be adapted depending on the person's bodily possibilities.
For example, tai chi is an activity that is done while standing, and yoga has a wider variety since you can do exercises lying down, sitting, etc.
You can vary the exercises and adapt them according to your needs.
3. Similar but different
Tai chi improves your balance and that leads to a reduction in falls. This activity develops balance skills because it works flexibility, reflexes and awareness, and mental focus.
On the other hand, yoga works in the stretching and strengthening of back muscles helping to reduce neck and back pain. Yoga can also reduce mental stress.
REMEMBER: The choice between yoga and tai chi generally comes down to personal preference and practical considerations.