Yoga and tai chi have several elements in common, but they also provide distinct benefits. This is how they are alike and different:
Both are mind-body arts that work by regulating and integrating body, breath, and mind, and are suitable for people of all ages and physical conditions. Practice is meditative, and benefits include reduced stress, improved balance and posture, elevated awareness, and enhanced healing and immune function.
Yoga emphasizes range of motion, tai chi emphasizes fluidity of motion. Yoga focuses on opening the joints as much as possible, tai chi focuses on freeing the joints as much as possible. Yoga tends to make the joints exposed, tai chi tends to keep the joints protected. Yoga is practiced solo, tai chi can only be practiced fully with a partner. Balance in yoga is mostly static, balance in tai chi is mostly dynamic. Yoga develops more external strength, tai chi develops more sensitivity. Yoga inverts the body, tai chi does not. Yoga evolved from devotional practices, tai chi evolved from healing practices.
How Yoga Can Benefit Your Tai Chi Practice
If you already practice tai chi, yoga will reinforce the benefits, as well as provide an extra degree of external strength, range of motion, and breathing capacity to complement your internal energy development, all of which will make your tai chi more powerful and effective.
How Tai Chi Can Benefit Your Yoga Practice
If you already practice yoga, tai chi will reinforce the benefits. It will also help to develop fluidity of motion and active relaxation in addition to stability of structure. It will help you to maintain your balance and poise in the face of interference, such as while moving and being pushed around by another person. It will teach you to avoid joint posture vulnerability, as well as how to issue and absorb large amounts of force.