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Yoga or Tai Chi

English2010-07-05 00:21:33 +0000 #1
Hi all,

I certainly hope I don't offend anybody here by bringing up Tai Chi, given that this is a yoga forum, but where better to find the informed opinion I'm searching for?

I am looking to start a regular exercise regime. I have been searching the Internet extensively, and can't seem to answer which would be best for me. Yoga, or Tai Chi. I have settled on either of these because of their low-impact nature.

Here is some background:

I used to do some yoga when I was a teenager. I was basically "forced" to do it by my father, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I might - although even then I could see great benefits to it.

I participated extensively in Japanese martial arts when I was younger (Judo, Karate, Jiu-Jitsu and some Aikido). Indeed, I used to instruct these arts, so I can't help feeling that I would have some kind of "head start" with Tai Chi, even thought it's a Chinese - rather than Japanese art. I can certainly see great similarities in the body posture between Tai Chi and Karate, Jiu-Jitsu and Aikido.

However, I can't help feeling that Tai Chi is a slight compromise given that my understanding of it's origins is that it is basically a slowed down version of the original martial arts, whereas Yoga (I assume) was developed in the first place as an exercise regime (not counting the spiritual side of things).

My primary objectives would be:Exercise for health
Flexibility and fighting the ageing process
Mental well-being and help with a propensity for depression

I would welcome and value any of your opinions on which may be a better direction for me to head. I understand that this is a yoga forum, so would expect a "bias" toward yoga.

Thanks in advance.


InnerAthlete2010-07-05 00:30:55 +0000 #2
Hello English,

I hope it is a regimen you are seeking rather than a regime as I can only help you with the former and not the latter.

You cite four intentions: exercise for health, flexibility, inhibit aging, and mental health. I think there are many ways to find these things and you've selected two of them. One could only know the answer from the inside out and only know it for themselves. So you may have to experience both.

There are some significant differences in the two practices. I personally do not know enough about the undercurrents of Tai Chi - beyond what I see in the physical form. If you are looking to work exclusively on the physical level then I view yoga as a more diverse physical practice as it includes inversion which I do not believe is part of the Tai Chi form.

There is another significant difference between yoga and martial arts. As I've stated before, in martial arts the practitioner is cultivating the Qi/Chi (a fighting force) in the dan tien. In yoga the practitioner is drawing up the animal nature of the lower spine and the ego of the brain into the heart center as an evolutionary force (not a fighting force).

So it is a matter of what suits the life you hope to lead.
English2010-07-05 01:11:06 +0000 #3
Hello InnerAthlete.

Firstly, thank you for the correction regarding "regime"/"regimen". Of course, I should have said "regimen".

Quote:

If you are looking to work exclusively on the physical level then I view yoga as a more diverse physical practice...

I think this speaks to the slight misgivings I have about Tai Chi. I could be wrong, but I can't help thinking that something that my research indicates was developed from its original purpose (self-defence) to become an exercise regimen can not be as "well-rounded" as something which was developed in the first place specifically for the benefit of body and mind.

The other issue I have is that I live in a small town in North Georgia, and I don't hold out much hope for finding good instruction in this area.

Would you think that it would be possible to learn from books and videos? I feel as if it may be easier to do so with yoga than Tai Chi.

I still hope that I may get some input from any with Tai Chi experience that may frequent this forum.

Thanks for your reply.
WalterJ2010-07-05 01:39:43 +0000 #4
Quote:

Originally Posted by English



However, I can't help feeling that Tai Chi is a slight compromise given that my understanding of it's origins is that it is basically a slowed down version of the original martial arts,

This is a Yoga forum so I will not get into this extesivly here but your understanding of the origin of taiji is not correct. It is a martial art all its own and rather effective if trained properly it is just that most (99%) of the people training and teaching taiji are not training it properly.

Also there are fast forms of Taijiquan, they are rare, but they do exist.

The only "Historically proven" sorce of Taijiquan is the Chen family and Chen style Taiji is still around. The most popular and most watered down is Yang Style but there are still a few real teachers left. The other major styles are Wu, Hao, Sun but there are others.

Now I know little about Yoga I am a beginner but I know much more about taiji I have been doing it for years.

Quote:

Originally Posted by English



I think this speaks to the slight misgivings I have about Tai Chi. I could be wrong, but I can't help thinking that something that my research indicates was developed from its original purpose (self-defence) to become an exercise regimen can not be as "well-rounded" as something which was developed in the first place specifically for the benefit of body and mind.

The other issue I have is that I live in a small town in North Georgia, and I don't hold out much hope for finding good instruction in this area.

Would you think that it would be possible to learn from books and videos? I feel as if it may be easier to do so with yoga than Tai Chi.

I still hope that I may get some input from any with Tai Chi experience that may frequent this forum.

Thanks for your reply.

Taiji from a video is difficult to many small and hidden circles to many small movements you just can't pick up on a video.

What you have in Taiji today is a lot of people looking for health and spirituality but it was not originally meant to be just that.

To gain full benefit form taiji you need both sides martial and non-martial train and it is rather well rounded but just train half (and most do) and you get just half.

Yoga, at least for me, is a bit more on the spiritual side and it is not necessary to learn a martial side to gain the benefits Yoga can give you but you do have to train it properly too. But then again I am very much a beginner at Yoga.
WalterJ2010-07-05 01:06:56 +0000 #5
Quote:

Originally Posted by InnerAthlete



There is another significant difference between yoga and martial arts. As I've stated before, in martial arts the practitioner is cultivating the Qi/Chi (a fighting force) in the dan tien. In yoga the practitioner is drawing up the animal nature of the lower spine and the ego of the brain into the heart center as an evolutionary force (not a fighting force).

Qi is energy not specifically for fighting. Chinese Medicine theory says that if you Qi is strong and flowing unobstructed it is healthy, if it weak of obstructed you are sick.

Although you can train certain martial arts so it can be use it for attack, you can train Qi and have absolutely no intent to ever use it for fighting. There are multiple Qigong forms that have absolutely no fighting application.
cyclezen2010-07-05 02:06:51 +0000 #6
Quote:

Originally Posted by English



...Yoga, or Tai Chi. I have settled on either of these because of their low-impact nature.

I used to do some yoga when I was a teenager...

I participated extensively in Japanese martial arts when I was younger ...

I can't help feeling that Tai Chi is a slight compromise..

My primary objectives would be:Exercise for health
Flexibility and fighting the ageing process
Mental well-being and help with a propensity for depression

I would welcome and value any of your opinions on which may be a better direction for me to head.

not being either a yogi expert or a TaiChi master; I do have some thoughts on either, or anything we might consider worth an effort.

Many, most things are not mutually exclusive and where one discipline might not be strong, another may offer that strength.

There is no 'fighting' aging. There is making the best of every phase of living. Doing this incorporates mental well-being, physical condition and performance and the balance of both. As living beings we incorporate the most difficult of both. To me the high point of being a human incorporates both the high point of physical and mental endeavours.

No doubt, losing flexibility is a key issue of our common western lifestyles and worth pursuing and recovering as much as possible.

'Compromise' is what WE bring to an effort, most often its not inherent in any regimen. 'Acceptance' however is both a benchmark for the current state and is the cornerstone for reconstructing the 'practitioner'. True in anything we do, strenous or engaging. Even the highest practitioners of any sport, endeavour or thoughtful objective must first start from 'acceptance' and move from there. Every Yoga practice allows continual opportunities to find acceptance of who we are and what we can/experience do at that very moment. Then we can change.

If something seems a compromise, then its because we don;t really understand its true purpose.

I place great value in 'instruction'. And even though I can (and often do) 'self-instruct', experience and mastery from another imparts more than text or video can provide. In my area, we're blessed to have almost an overabundance of masterful yoga instructers. Tai Chi instruction also exists, but in less convenient numbers.

If you must make a choice, often great availability means less chance for us to compromise the effort.

I'm actually considering adding TaiChi to my own ongoing 'de and re-construction'.

Doesn't seem like you could go wrong, with either or both. Wherever you start might very likely lead you around to other things. Not a bad place to be.

namaste

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