Tai Chi Vs Yoga: Which One Should You Choose?

Beyond the standard workout routine that perhaps involves running, cycling, or swimming, there are other fitness options worth considering to help you maintain a healthy body.

If you're looking to slow things down a bit, you may want to try yoga or tai chi. Both are ancient practices that can improve your physical health, but what ultimately is the difference between the two? And how do you know which is better for you?

Their origins might at first make you think these two practices are miles apart. Tai chi originated in China with its roots dating back to the third century, according to Brittanica.com, while yoga originated in Northern India long before tai chi, dating back at least 5,000 years (via Yoga Basics).

As far as the benefits go, however, both of each of these practice have the same ultimate goal. Both promote health and fitness, and both leave you with a sense of well-being — they just use different approaches. One main difference is that tai chi primarily uses ultra-slow, dance-like movements that integrate the whole body, whereas, in yoga, you tend to hold a posture in more targeted areas of the body (via Livestrong).

What are some of the benefits of tai chi and yoga?

A fundamental aspect of tai chi is its roots in the Chinese concept of yin and yang, which the Chinese believe to be the two sides of the universe that need to be kept in balance. The practice of tai chi is what the Chinese believe helps to maintain this balance, and an open flow of energy, also known as "qi." 

On the practical side, tai chi can help aid your digestive system, increase a sense of calm, improve your balance, and massage inner organs (via WFAA). And while anyone can engage in tai chi, you may often see older people embracing the practice because the movements are gentle and primary benefits are balance and flexibility (via Healthline).

Since yoga focuses on holding poses and stretches for longer periods, yoga may be more optimal for you than tai chi if you're seeking to improve your flexibility (via Women's Health). And if you are looking to release physical tension, deepen your breathing, reduce back pain, or improve your posture, yoga may also serve your needs better (via Yoga Journal).

At the end of the day, though, you can't go wrong with either tai chi or yoga. However, they do have different approaches, so it's up to you to decide which is better for your needs and abilities. Perhaps try a beginner's class in each and see which one clicks?