Atleast 5 Good Reasons why Yoga might be better than Tai Chi ------------------------------------------------------------ The following list is just based off my own research and observations. It was merely written as an exercise for contemplation. It was not written to say that tai chi, when used responsibly, can't be just as great because ultimately tai chi and yoga are just tools and it is up to the individual practitioner to develop true character and respect by themselves. The following opinions are however more to do with the common theme amongst non-masters of either art. These are what I believe happen on a realistic level. Of course, anyone can find fault in them on a mostly theoretical basis, including myself. I assure you I study both of these subjects objectively. I still practice yoga AND taichi everyday. My apparent bias toward yoga stems only from my own observations thus far. I also find my practice of yoga greatly helps my tai chi practice (and perhaps vice/versa though I have yet to truely notice that as happening). --------------------------------------------------------------------- 1) Tai chi was created and practiced as a martial art. This, by definition, means it's rooted in violence. And in the mind the intent is on violence, be it offense or self-defense, we still have a real or imagined opponent. The word "opponent" appears many times in classic and modern tai chi books. It's even included in a lot of the "poems" about tai chi. There are those who are very into "taosim" who practice tai chi. Unfortunately, even though taichi has some taosist similarities it is not the same thing. And, in the west anyway, most students completely disregard any taoism in the art, instead favoring its fighting aspects and general principles. (I also find it strange how taichi's principles clearly are UNnatural in the way that they try to retrain the human machine to handle itself in a fight. Nearly all tai chi students struggle greatly with being able to stay with taichi's principles of relaxation, yeilding, and so on, when actually in danger. I'm not sure how one could make the connection to "nature" in this case when it comes to tai chi) Yoga is rooted in nonviolence, including non-violence to one's self. Yoga exercises are designed with complete non-violence to the body and mind. While it's true that tai chi's exercises are typically very gentle on the body, "testing" it requires inflicting physical violence on an opponent, and them inflicting it on you. In yoga the only opponent is your own mind's negative impulses. If these impulses were controlled by more and more people there would be less and less conflict in the world. 2) Yoga seems to appeal more largely to women (who are naturally "yin" and less violent) and tai chi appeals mainly to men (who are naturally "yang" and more violent). The people who practice tai chi as a martial art, more often than not, have a more paranoid view of the world, and while they claim to be balanced they still tend more toward yang, ego, agression... and generally become offended more easily (just read through this forum). 3) Peace begins with "you". If you're peaceful that's all you can do to create world peace. Of course, everyone in the world would need to do this to have true world peace, but it still starts with you. Unfortunately, violence, be it with martial artists or gun fighters, are often needed in our violent world to "keep the peace". Really this is a misnomer, as it isn't so much "keeping the peace" as it is stopping even greater violence from occuring. However, this practice often fails. 4) Tai chi alone isn't usually enough exercise for a non-elderly person. In the old days, the tai chi masters would work very hard labor jobs and then practice tai chi afterward and use it as both a tool for learning self-defense and for relaxation. In todays world of office jobs and generally sedentary lifestyles coming home after sitting at a desk all day to practice tai chi usually isn't enough excerise for the average individual, especially if they are trying to lose weight. Yoga practioners typically wake up at least an hour before they go to work or school and do an invigorating yoga workout. This includes total body exercises that serve to strengthen, elongate and relax nearly every muscle, organ and joint in the body. You WILL sweat when doing an invorgrating yoga session far more than you would in a typical tai chi session. While tai chi can improve cardio conditioning when done in a low stance over a period of time, most instructors don't advise their students to do this, especially those with any kind of health problems (high blood pressure, bad knees, etc). With yoga there are some contraindictions of course, but there's literally thousands of different asanas (poses). So much so that you can adjust and invent your own exercise routines as needed. You also can get a safe cardio workout in yoga even with bad knees! This is done via the flowing "vinyasa" where you link one pose directly into the next (much like flowing from one taichi posture to the next in the taichi form). With yoga you can include standing, sitting and even lying postures individually or flowing together. Of course with yoga you can chose to do only those poses which relax you. These calming poses are usually done in the evening as you're winding down before bed time. Tai chi and yoga have the same things in common when it comes to health, only yoga goes even further. For example, tai chi works by activating the "meridians" through your feet, which in turn correspond to other parts of your body. It does this as you're standing and "walking" through the movements of the form. You also loosen most, if not every, joint in the body while doing the form. Yoga also believes in meridians (they call them Nadis) and each yoga pose is said to open them up so more energy flows through them. There's the concept of life force/chi in yoga reffered to as "Prana" and many breathing exercises (pranayama) and asanas to increase prana. Yoga also has inverted poses, like downward facing dog and headstands, which gives your organs a break from gravity's constant pull on them. They also allow your heart to rest. This is not found in tai chi. Tai chi students usually incorporate "Qigong" exercises, and often other things like external martial arts or even weight lifting, to supplement their tai chi training. On a side note, why don't any of the taiji classics mention qigong? Is it just me who noticed this? Perhaps i'm wrong. (and yes I am aware that tai chi itself is often considered to be qigong in itself, but this still makes me wonder why my tai chi books don't mention qigong, except the ones written in the last 30 years) With yoga there are no supplements needed. Yoga is a perfect exercise (and whole life system) in and of itself. As far as longevity, look at the biography of most tai chi "masters", of old and new, you'll notice they typically lived from 45-80 years. The largest percent probably living up to between 65-75 years. However, there are a great many instances of yogi's living well into their hundreds! Is it because they didn't have to fight? Is it because Yoga is a superior form of health exercise? Is it both or some other factors? Who knows. 5) Yoga teaches a philosophy that benefits your lifestyle. Yogi's remind their students to have fun and even smile and laugh through both their workouts and their daily life. Look around, you don't see too many smiling tai chi guys. Why are they so serious anyway? They'll often claim they're not but the proof is in the packaging. I was looking at some photographs of yang cheng fu and his students and they have a very "I'm a thug, don't mess with me!" expression on their faces in every single photograph. Of course, they couldn't come off as potentially looking untough back then. But what is our excuse in modern/developed societies for being so serious? 6) Most taichi students these days are too busy arguing and debating over who's the real thing and who's a "new age hippy". There's a LOT of frustration and ill wishing toward eachother in the tai chi community, if you can even call it a community. Teachers often are just as bad when they should know better. Unforunately its often a marketing ploy by teachers to get students. The students then are basically brain washed and go on to act on this brain washing and try to convince everyone else of their beliefs. I've found with yoga most people get along great. There are however some yoga teachers, almost exclusively in the western world, who act more like drill sergeants, shouting out commands and not a pupil in the room feels allowed to even smile! I call these people "alignment nazi's". Real yoga is personal, there's no one "right" way to do it. It's a personal growth tool. No one is ever forced to do or believe anything. To me, the current state of taichi and yoga looks something like this: Yoga About half of yogi's practice yoga to get a good workout and improve their looks. The other half of yogi's practice yoga for the spiritual aspects to become a better person. Tai Chi 90% of tai chi students practice tai chi for health and/or as part of their taoist philosophy. The other 10% practice it as a martial art, with some students still caring about health and philosophy. ----------------------------------------------------------- Let's remember though that yoga is thousands of years old and the yogi's always strived to love everyone and to not hold back any thing that could benefit mankind. While tai chi is perhaps only a few hundred years old and was (and still is by some) taught in a violent, secretive way. If your goal is simply fitness/health and philosophy then Yoga is probably more suited to you. If you want health/fitness potential for philosophy and self defense, then tai chi is more suited for you (or most any martial art). I still believe that tai chi can and should evolve until we come to a place where theres less confusion about it. Unforunately, most who take the time to master the art teach that its perfect the way it is and changing it would only ruin it. Perhaps that's true and finding out what "it" really is is the real challenge and could take decades to really grasp. With yoga, a good teacher and your own daily practice and meditation, what it "is" and what you can do with it becomes apparent very quickly. Yoga's goal is on Enlightenment. Tai chi's goal is on developing a great fighter, who will hopefully be skilled enough as to not have to ever hurt anyone. There's no substitute for enlightenment. The more I write about this the more and more ideas I keep finding as to why Yoga is perhaps superior to Taichi (such as lineage issues and how much easier it is to find a qualified yoga teacher than a qualified tai chi teacher) but I think at this point it'd be easier to let what I've already mentioned being chewed on for a while and any further points could be answered to replies of this article.