The fitness and wellness industry is growing each year as we add ancient fitness practices to our lives. While tai chi and yoga have some similarities, they also differ in a lot of ways. However, both of them are ideal for people of all ages and genders and offer tremendous health benefits, according to Harvard Health Publishing. So, tai chi vs. yoga: which one should you choose?
A 2014 study discovered that older people who practiced tai chi had greater connectivity in the part of their brain associated with decision-making and attention than sedentary adults.
In addition, three elements bind tai chi and yoga together. These include motion sequences, deep breathing, and meditation. So, if you are wondering about the differences between tai chi vs. yoga, you have come to the right place.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about Tai chi and yoga and help you make an informed decision.
Table of Contents
The Basics Of Tai Chi
Tai Chi (also known as t’ai chi chüan or moving meditation) is thousands of years old. It combines both martial arts and meditation. However, practicing Tai Chi aims to slow down your mind and body by repeating rhythmic breathwork and choreography for about 30 to 60 minutes.
Tai chi is a series of gentle stretches and exercises. The postures flow from one to the other without a pause so that the body stays in a constant motion. Many people describe tai chi as meditation in motion because it promotes gentle movements that create serenity in the body.
Tai chi connects your mind and body, and it originated in ancient China. It began as a form of martial arts. However, it focuses on a continuous yet slow sequence.
Here are the five main types of tai chi.
Five Different Kinds of Tai Chi
|Form Of Tai Chi
|Description Of Each Form Of Tai Chi
|– Chen is known as the oldest tai chi form; it was developed in the 1600s.
– Chen also uses a ” silk reeling movement,” basically a spiral-Esque, flowing motion that begins at the feet and moves into the hands.
|– Yang is often regarded as the most popular and widely practiced form of Tai Chi.
– Since Yang doesn’t use the quick fast movements of Chen, it is more accessible and perfect for all ages and fitness levels.
– It was developed in the mid-1800s based original Chen style.
– Yang focuses on improving flexibility through grand, sweeping movements executed in slow and graceful movements.
|– Wu’s form of Tai Chi originated from the Yang type.
– The main difference is that Wu’s form of Tai Chi focuses on extending the body and improving balance by leaning forward and backward instead of standing in a centered position.
– Wu’s form of Tai Chi is also one of the most popular versions of Tai Chi.
|– The Sun form of Tai Chi involves more footwork than the others, combined with soft and silk-reeling hand movements.
– The Sun form of Tai Chi looks like a beautifully choreographed dance when you see it performed from beginning to end.
|– The Hao form of Tai Chi emphasizes “controlling the movement of qi (internal force).”
– The Hao form of Tai Chi isn’t recommended for those new to the art, making it the least popular of all five forms of Tai Chi.
– Another reason for its unpopularity is because it is pretty nuanced and requires a more advanced skill level.
The Basics Of Yoga
Most of us are familiar with what yoga is because it has become incredibly popular in the fitness space in recent times. Yoga is also a connection practice for the body and mind that combines breathing techniques, physical postures, and relaxation or meditation.
The primary goal of yoga is to help you build harmony in mind and body, awareness, and strength.
Remember that yoga is more static because it emphasizes achieving a specific posture and maintaining it for a few seconds or minutes. Of course, that depends on the intensity of the form. As you practice yoga, you will reap the endless physical and mental health benefits it has to offer.
Like tai chi, yoga also helps improve muscle tone and strength and respiration, and cardiovascular health, according to the American Osteopathic Association.
Types of Yoga
Like Tai Chi, there are various ways to practice yoga. Here are the basic types of yoga and a brief description of each.
|Types Of Yoga
|Brief Description Of Each
|– Hatha yoga includes all forms of yoga rooted in physical practice and poses, a broad umbrella.
– Hatha yoga is the most common style.
– Hatha yoga is the best type of yoga for beginners to try.
|Iyengar Yoga is a form of yoga focusing on the structural alignment of the physical body via the practice of asanas.
|– Vinyasa ( also known as Ashtanga yoga) is a way of practicing yoga in which you move from one pose straight into the next.
– Vinyasa yoga is about “flow” and moving your body seamlessly from one posture to the next in coordination with your breathing.
– Vinyasa yoga can contain other forms, including power yoga and prana
|– Bikram is one of the most common types of hot yoga, typically performed in a highly-heated room.
– Bikram helps you challenge your mind and body and sweat profusely.
– Bikram classes generally last about 90 minutes.
– Note that not all hot yoga is Bikram style. Vinyasa or power yoga are also practiced in hot studios.
|– Kundalini yoga is considered more spiritual than other types of yoga.
– Kundalini yoga mixes singing, chanting, movements, and breathing in distinct patterns.
– Kundalini yoga promotes spiritual enlightenment.
Which Is Harder: Tai Chi Or Yoga?
Both yoga and tai chi are relatively easy at the beginner level. However, as you advance, you will find that tai chi is more challenging than yoga because tai chi started as a form of martial arts.
As your practice becomes stronger and you set the foundation, you will start finding the practice a little challenging. However, most people find that tai chi is more challenging and demanding than yoga.
Both Tai chi and yoga are incredibly beneficial; ensure you take necessary precautions to avoid injury.
Of course, that does not come as a surprise at all because tai chi originates from its development as a martial arts form. If you are not ready to take on a challenge, you can stick to yoga. On the other hand, if you want to push your boundaries and require a demanding practice, then tai chi is the ideal choice.
If your goal is to maintain your general fitness, try taking both a yoga and a tai chi class to discover which you like better. Tai chi improves overall health and promotes full-body awareness and mobility.
Yoga typically promotes flexibility as it involves holding various deep stretches for longer. Both yoga and tai chi supports mental health.
Tai Chi Vs. Yoga For Weight Loss
Tai chi vs. yoga will both prove great if you are aiming to lose weight. In addition, what you are eating is also a contributing factor. According to a study, practicing tai chi five times a week for forty-five minutes led to the adult participants losing more than a pound.
The best part is that the adults did not have to make any other changes to their lifestyle to lose much weight. You can also lose weight with yoga, but you will have to make lifestyle and dietary changes to achieve this loss of weight. So, if you want to lose more weight, you can opt for tai chi.
Yoga can help reduce body mass index in overweight and obese people, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis issued in the Journal of Preventive Medicine.
- If your goal is to lose weight with yoga, choose more vigorous power yoga or vinyasa classes.
- And if you are more interested in tai chi, choose a Chen-style type, which generally includes some explosive movements, including jumps and kicks.
See also: 13 Yoga Postures That Help With Gas!
Tai Chi Vs. Yoga: What Are The Differences And Similarities?
Now that you understand the basics of tai chi vs. yoga, here are the top differences between these two:
1- Personal Space
When you practice tai chi, you will not have personal space, as you will not be confined to your mat. The focus of tai chi is on moving around with other people in the class. Besides that, if you attend a tai chi class, you will also most likely partner up with someone else for two-person movements.
And, if you prefer personal space and want to turn inward, then yoga is ideal. You will stay on your mat and work on your mind and body the entire time.
You will find that tai chi has more flow as there are few pauses from one movement to the next. The movements flow smoothly and instantly, which is why it may feel like a dance to some people. On the other hand, yoga also focuses on a seamless flow of one movement to the next, but it involves many long pauses and holds.
If you want to embrace stillness, yoga is for you. However, if you want a more dynamic movement routine, then you will love tai chi.
Both Yoga and Tai Chi originate from Eastern religions, focusing on meditation. Both consider that enlightenment and freedom can come from the meditative practices of their forms.
Tai chi began as a form of martial art, which is why it also has many self-defense applications. On the other hand, yoga originated as a practice for meditation, spiritual wellness, and more. You can select anyone, depending on your goals.
4- Slow Movements
Both yoga and tai chi are established on slow, controlled motions and are rooted in the idea of control that comes from moving slowly.
This principle is the basis of the graceful and elegant appearance of yoga and tai chi, based on moving slowly and in a controlled manner.
In Tai Chi, some forms have quicker movements, such as Chen-style, the oldest and most martial type of Tai Chi.
Now that you understand the differences, here are some similarities between tai chi vs. yoga:
3- Series Of Poses
Both tai chi and yoga will have a series of poses and movements that will flow from one to the next.
Flowing or pausing between movements depends on the style, you decide to practice. However, both forms will allow you to practice a series of poses.
4- Being On Your Feet Vs. On The Floor
The primary difference between yoga and tai chi is that yoga has static movement while tai chi has dynamic movements. And how much you like to be on the floor (yoga) versus on your feet (Tai Chi).
During yoga practice, you will spend more time on the floor or your mat doing deep stretching positions.
During tai chi practice, you will spend most of your time on your feet. Therefore, if you dislike getting on the floor, tai chi might be a better fit for you.
4- Physical And Mental Wellness
Tai chi and yoga are ideal for physical and mental wellness. If you want to connect the mind and body, you can select tai chi or yoga.
In the long run, both of these fitness forms will boost your mental and physical health.
5- Tai Chi is a Martial Art
The foundation of tai chi martial art is a considerable difference from the foundation of yoga. Every movement in tai chi has a helpful application in martial arts developed in China.
You can use tai chi as a self-defense technique, and many tai chi practitioners use a practice called “push hands,” a way of detecting an opponent’s imbalances.
See also: 6 Must-Do Things After Your Yoga Class.
Tai Chi Vs. Yoga: Which One Should You Choose?
If you want a more dynamic fitness practice, then tai chi will offer you a lot of benefits. On the other hand, yoga is the ideal choice if you want to practice to slow you down and help you connect with your inner self.
Tai chi boosts cognitive abilities and improves your mental well-being, according to a 2013 meta-analysis issued in the Journal of Sport and Health Science. Researchers particularly recommended Tai Chi for elderly people since it is a gentler and more accessible physical exercise, combining mental exercises through repeated “choreography.“
In general, choosing between tai chi and yoga will depend on your age, health, overall physical conditioning, and what you want from the practice.
Check out a video summarizing this article we uploaded to our YouTube channel.
Both yoga and tai chi offer a powerful opportunity to bring them together, regardless of your fitness and mindfulness goals.
The best way to decide between yoga and tai chi is to join free trial classes and check out the environment, the teaching style, and the class schedules.
I suggest you choose the one you enjoy the most so you will continue your practice of mind-body movement to improve your health and fitness.