Comparison of the Benefits of Tai Chi & Yoga

Unlike a traditional workout, yoga and tai chi focus on precise movements that allow the body to slowly transition from one position to the next. Both practices attempt to coordinate the muscles, bones, heart and mind with the positive energy that surrounds the body. Although both have similar goals, a comparison of the benefits of tai chi and yoga reveals interesting differences.

Yoga and tai chi are both relaxing, beneficial practices. (Image: da-kuk/E+/GettyImages)

Identify the Styles

The body positions and movements used in yoga and tai chi often appear to be similar, but the two practices vary drastically. A tai chi session focuses on relaxed movements. The postures are constantly evolving, and there are no pauses as the body moves from one posture to the next. On the other hand, yoga focuses on stillness.

Each posture is held for several seconds or minutes depending on which style you practice, allowing the body to fill with positive energy between movements. Both tai chi and yoga use controlled breathing and meditation to enhance the practice.

Benefit From Your Practice

Tai chi and yoga have both been credited as effective treatments for relieving pain associated with certain medical conditions. For example, a study from Harvard Health Publishing claims that tai chi can benefit or improve symptoms of arthritis, high blood pressure and Parkinson's disease.

Another article from Harvard Health Publishing claims that a regular yoga practice can reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, relieve physical pain across the body and alleviate the symptoms of depression. When done regularly, both practices can improve the quality of life among patients with cancer and heart disease.

Calm Your Nerves

It is difficult to compare the stress-relieving benefits of tai chi and yoga. Both methods use a mind-body approach to help calm the entire being, rather than just the physical body. Before determining which method is more beneficial at providing relief from anxiety and stress, you must first try both methods. In many cases, it simply depends on which method suits you better.

If you enjoy the constant movement of tai chi and become nervous while holding yoga postures, tai chi will help you relieve stress more effectively. Similarly, if the stillness of yoga speaks to your soul, you might find that a yoga practice suits you best. Whether you follow a DVD in your living room or attend a class, you'll be able to choose or perhaps even incorporate both disciplines into your life.

Improve Your Balance

Since tai chi requires constant movement, your balance can benefit from learning to flow seamlessly from one move to another. An article in Healthline credits tai chi with helping to improve the balance of seniors which will help to remove the fear of falling. However, yoga's emphasis on static poses makes it a better choice for improving balance while standing still.

A regular yoga practice can teach you how to distribute weight evenly across your feet, which drastically improves stability. Considered the "first" pose, Mountain pose teaches you to spread your toes to achieve maximum stability. By turning your tailbone toward the ground, lengthening your spine and broadening your shoulders, you become like a mountain: still and immovable.

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