Unpacking The Main Differences Between Tai Chi and Yoga
Both Tai Chi and Yoga offer many health benefits, and they're similar too. Low-intensity and gentle practices improve balance, flexibility, and improve overall health.
Tai Chi and Yoga are powerful ancient body-movement practices and are highly beneficial not only for the physical body but to our mental health too.
But beyond similarities, they have different origins, styles, and execution. Choosing which one of these activities you'll practice, it's entirely up to you, but getting to know a few differences here and there will tell you what to expect when going to class for the first time.
First, The Benefits
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While both activities have similar benefits, each has a particular effect that stands out in scientific studies. Peter Wayne, faculty editor of the Harvard Special Health Report talks about them:
"Tai chi improves your balance, and that leads to a 20% to 60% reduction in falls. The exercise sharpens all of the skills you need to stay upright — leg strength, flexibility, range of motion, reflexes, and awareness of bodily sensations and mental focus."
Yoga works on reducing local pain such as neck and back pain as well as reducing mental stress.
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Before Yoga spread across the globe, it began as an Indian philosophy 5,000 years ago and was mainly used as a concentration and meditation tool. In the 1900s, yoga asanas became popular in India to help people sit more comfortably during meditation. Since then, Yoga has changed and evolved into different styles, from invigorating vinyasa to quiet, restorative Yoga.
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Tai Chi also origins in Asia — it dates back to about the 1600s in small villages in rural China. Tai Chi, similar to Yoga, evolves into different styles, such as Yang, Sun, and Chen. The practice arrived in Western cultures in the 1950s.
Yoga Vs Tai Chi: Types of Movement
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Both Yoga and Tai Chi use different types of movements to challenge the body, the muscles, and balance. Tai Chi is series of choreographed movements that flow and focus on the body motion and breath. Yoga (even Yoga flow) is based on static postures (called asanas) focused on stretching and strengthening the body.
Which One Should You Choose?
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Yoga and Tai Chi have similar benefits for both mental and physical health, and which one you would like to try, it's a matter of personal choice and goals. If you don't know which one you should pick, why not trying them both and see which one you like better?