If you are already doing tai chi or yoga, you’ve probably noticed that the other discipline looks somewhat similar. So you might be wondering whether your practice would benefit from doing some tai chi with your yoga or vice-versa.
Can you practice yoga and tai chi together? You can practice yoga and tai chi together as the two can complement each other nicely. However, you will have to make sure that the yoga routine doesn’t interfere with your tai chi, and vice-versa.
If you enjoy both tai chi and yoga, your best option might be just to sign up for Tai Chi Yoga which, as we’ll see, is a discipline that combines the two!
5 Reasons To Practice Yoga And Tai Chi Together
Let’s start with 5 reasons that you might want to practice yoga and tai chi together. Though we should note that when we say “together”, it actually means “separately”. One thing that everybody seems to agree on is that if you do tai chi and yoga – you ought to practice them on different days to ensure that you get the most from each discipline.
Yoga Is A More Thorough Workout
One thing that almost nobody will disagree with is that yoga is a more physically demanding sport than tai chi. Tai chi is all about slow measured flow from one position to another, it’s one of the reasons that it’s so popular with the elderly, the very young and those with poor levels of fitness – it’s not so demanding.
Yoga, on the other hand, requires more exertion and thus, it’s likely to lead to better muscle toning, higher calorific burn and a higher level of aerobic activity. However, it’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean yoga is more beneficial – it just means it can achieve more health benefit in a shorter time frame (assuming a reasonable level of fitness in the practitioner).
Yoga Will Help You Gain More Flexibility In Muscles
If you want to become more flexible, then yoga is definitely the practice which is going to help you learn to bend and flex more than tai chi does. That’s because, again, yoga is simply a more intense practice. Now, you probably won’t be running around a lot when you do yoga – most yoga is, in fact, fairly stationary in nature – but it is more physically demanding.
This is because yoga is designed to prepare you for discomfort in the form of seated meditation whereas tai chi is often referred to as “meditation in motion” because you don’t sit to meditate in tai chi.
Tai Chi Can Be Used As A Warm Up For Yoga
Tai chi can be used as a gentle warm up for yoga practice. This is an exception to the “don’t do them both on the same day” rule but only because you’re not going to do very much tai chi – just enough to get the blood flowing and to bring some life to your muscles before you switch to your yoga forms.
The idea is to build a little energy to sustain your workout. Nothing more.
Tai Chi Can Help You Learn To Meditate Better
Tai chi offers a much more straightforward meditative framework when compared to yoga. It can, therefore, be easier to develop your meditative practice with tai chi’s “moving meditation” and then transfer some of the lessons that you’ve learned to your yoga practice.
Some even suggest a brief 5 minutes of tai chi meditation before moving into your seated meditation that you’re learning in yoga.
Tai Chi Can Also be Used As A Cool Down For Yoga
Just as with the idea of using tai chi as a warm up – the important thing here is to realize that the tai chi practice should be minimal and just enough to shake out any aches and pains that you’ve incurred in your yoga session – it shouldn’t be a full hour of walking movements.
5 Reasons Not To Practice Yoga And Tai Chi Together
Many people are quite adamant, however, that yoga and tai chi do not go hand-in-hand they say that they may look similar but, in fact, they are very different disciplines and that they’re not meant to complement each other at all and that practicing them together can lead to problems not benefits.
Muscle Tension Can Carry Through To Tai Chi Practice From Yoga
Because of the way yoga works, you are going to work out harder and that means you’re going to put more tension into your muscles when you do yoga than when you do tai chi. This can be a problem if you take that tension into your tai chi practice because it interferes with your ability to relax and flow from position to position.
Yoga Involves More Forcing Than Tai Chi
Tai chi isn’t to be rushed. You can’t “force” yourself to move naturally, either you do, or you don’t, and it can take months or even years for a tai chi practitioner to learn to flow properly between all positions. By contrast, many people do force their yoga practice a little harder and that can lead to bringing that habit to tai chi – where it will severely hinder your chances of improving.
It Can Be Hard To Switch From One To The Other
They may look similar but they’re not that similar. In fact, tai chi’s natural, gentle pace is in something of contrast to yoga’s faster, harder routine. That difference can make it harder to adapt when you move from one practice to the other, even if you are very mindful because your muscle memory will get in your way.
Much Of Yoga Is “Wrong” In Tai Chi
To put things more bluntly, the aims of yoga are very wrong for tai chi – though the reverse is not necessarily the case. If you have already mastered tai chi, you might be able to overcome the disadvantages that yoga brings by adding it to your practice but less experienced students may find it a real struggle.
Yoga Is Not For Motion
Tai chi is in constant motion. Yoga, on the other hand, is a static discipline. The “gains” from yoga are not likely to be very beneficial to your tai chi practice and vice-versa. There are more complementary arts to tai chi such as qigong that fit better with the ethos of tai chi than yoga does.
Why Not Consider Tai Chi Yoga?
If you really like the idea of doing tai chi and yoga then there may be the perfect solution for you: tai chi yoga.
Yes, really. John C Neubauer of Louisville, Kentucky gained mastery of three styles of tai chi and then learned yoga. In 1977, he decided that the best way to use these skills was to blend them into a single art form which used the complimentary techniques of each and emphasized the harmony between the two disciplines.
He has, since, taught tai chi yoga to students in more than 40 countries and has published e-books and teaching packages for students that are keen to learn more.
He says that, at its core, tai chi yoga is “about doing; not achieving” and that it is safe and straightforward to practice for people of all ages and levels of fitness, rather like tai chi.
The claimed benefits of this practice include better concentration, suppleness, condition, balance, movement and inner awareness. It is said to be a deeply spiritual practice that allows you to feel your own spirt and the energy of the world around you.
Can you practice yoga and tai chi together? Although there is a strong argument that the development of yoga practices can harm your ability to carry out tai chi forms, you can do both in a safe and valuable manner as long as you are aware of this danger.
Still, a great option to try both tai chi and yoga at the same time is to look towards Kentucky and John C Neubauer’s tai chi yoga which is the best of both worlds.