Yoga and Tai Chi are both practices that had been increasing in popularity among seniors but that are now also taking off explosively within the Millennial generation. That said, while they have a great deal in common, they are far from being the same. How do you know which one is right for you or if you could benefit from doing both?
Both yoga and Tai Chi are practices that use coordination of the muscles, skeleton, cardiovascular system and breathing with positive energies flowing through and around the body. Though both practices have similar goals and can produce comparable benefits, there are some interesting and notable differences between them.
To an outsider, the types of movements and poses used in both yoga and Tai Chi can appear quite similar. That said they're not at all the same. For example, yoga's poses tend to be mainly focused on stillness. You move from one posture to the next and then hold that pose for a number of seconds or even minutes. This allows the body to replenish its positive energy between each new pose.
On the other hand, Tai Chi is based on continual movement. The movements are focused and relaxed and have very few or no pauses as the body flows from one posture to the next. That said, they both use controlled breathing and meditation patterns to further the experience and benefits.
Medically speaking, both yoga and Tai Chi have been applauded as effective methods of pain control, blood pressure control, reduction of Parkinson's disease risk and symptoms, improvement of arthritis symptoms, and improving many mental health conditions, particularly in the case of those relating to anxiety and depression. When these practices are done properly, they can both be associated with improving quality of life among the elderly as well as among people with heart disease and cancer.
Regular practice of yoga and Tai Chi can measurably reduce stress levels. This mindful approach to activity can help the whole body and mind to relieve physical and mental stress. One is not better than the other in this respect. While some people find that it relieves more stress to achieve a pose and hold it, others find that the ever-evolving motion of moving from one pose to the next is better for them.
If you are seeking to use yoga or Tai Chi to improve your flexibility and reduce your stress, try a beginner video for each one and see which one seems to appeal to you more. You may also benefit from a beginner or gentle yoga or Tai Chi class to help you to learn some of the basics and become familiar with them, so you have a better chance to understand the effect they have on you.