Tai chi or yoga? 4 important differences

Here's how to determine which is best for your needs.

Published: February, 2021

Tai chi and yoga have many similarities. Both are gentle, low-intensity exercises that have been practiced for hundreds of years. Both are good for your mind and body (see "Tai chi and yoga benefits"). And both have been shown to be beneficial for older adults in particular. How do you choose one over the other? Several differences can influence your choice.

Tai chi and yoga benefits

Tai chi and yoga share a long list of health and wellness benefits. Both can improve your balance, flexibility, strength, mobility, mood, quality of life, range of motion, reflexes, and thinking skills. They also reduce pain and your risk of falls.

How do two exercises accomplish all that? "Rather than targeting just one aspect of health — like an aspirin for a headache — yoga and tai chi movements address many health systems and work synergistically," says Peter Wayne, faculty editor of the Harvard Special Health Report An Introduction to Tai Chi.

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