This past week, we’ve given an overview of Tai Chi, outlining the physical and mental health benefits of this ancient practice. To round off this weeks posts, we thought we’d talk about another ancient practice: yoga.
Like Tai Chi, yoga has extensive health benefits and is also considered to be a low-impact exercise, making it another great choice for seniors looking stay active.
Here are a few of the health benefits that Yoga has to offer:
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, regular yoga practice can help to do the following:
- Reduce heart rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Relieve physical and mental stress
- Alleviate the symptoms of depression
Yoga helps to improve flexibility
One of the major benefits of practicing yoga is that it can help to increase your range of movement. The gentle stretching from yoga poses helps you maintain a good range of motion, allowing you to perform everyday activities.
Differences and similarities between yoga and Tai Chi
You might be thinking that Tai Chi and yoga sound very similar–and in some instances, that’s true.
For example, both practices have similar goals (i.e. mind and body unity and concentration) and use controlled breathing and meditation. However, the positions and movements used in yoga and Tai Chi vary drastically, making each practice more conducive to enhancing certain areas of fitness and benefits.
For instance, Tai Chi requires constant movement from the individual, and postures move quickly into one another, meaning there is little time to pause. Because Tai Chi has a constant flow of movement, the practice requires you to be more aware of how you shift your weight, making it a great exercise for improving balance.
On the other end of the spectrum, yoga focuses on stillness, and each posture is held for several seconds or minutes. As we mentioned above, the gentle stretching involved in yoga helps to improve your range of movement, making it a great exercise for flexibility.
Choosing between Tai Chi and yoga
Both practices are stress reducers, but when it comes to making a choice between the two practices, it’s best to go with the one that you are most comfortable with.
If you’re afraid that you will end up hurting yourself while holding a yoga pose, it’s probably safe to say that yoga will not reduce your stress levels.Â If that’s the case, you may enjoy the constant movement of Tai Chi. On the other hand, if you find Tai Chi to be too fast paced, then perhaps the slowness of yoga will help you more.
Regardless of what you choose, remember that both of these low-impact exercises will benefit you a lot. And, if you enjoy both Tai Chi and yoga, then there is no reason for you to choose one over the other. Incorporating both into your daily or weekly exercise routine will give you a well-rounded routine that in turn will help you maintain your independence as you age.
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