Downward Dog or Yang 24?

December 8, 2016 0 Comments

 

Authentic Downward Facing Dog

Authentic Downward Facing Dog, Rusty

National Health Statistics Reports, February, 2015 reports that US complementary health approaches of yoga, Tai Chi/Qigong practice increased linearly over  ten-year period 2002 to 2012 from 5.8% to 10.9%, with many more practitioners of Yoga (9.5%) than Tai Chi/Qigong (1.4%)

You may be thinking that Yoga or Tai Chi/Qigong could be right for you, but how will you decide which discipline is best? Having practiced yoga for over twenty years and Tai Chi/Qigong for seven, I’ll share my experience and perspective.

HERE ARE MY DEFINITIONS:

When Yoga is mentioned outside India,  it usually means Hatha Yoga – the most commonly practiced yoga in the West. In its simplest definition, Hatha Yoga is a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation intended to promote bodily or mental control and well-being.  Many Yoga postures are practiced kneeling or laying on a mat.  (There is chair Yoga for those who need the support.)

Tai Chi/Qigong is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for health, spirituality, and martial arts training. Although there are martial arts applications,  most practices are focused on brain, body, breath coordination for health benefits.  All Tai Chi/Qigong practices I’m familiar with are practiced standing or sitting.

Sound pretty similar, don’t they?

COMPARISON WITH DIFFERENCES HIGHLIGHTED IN BOLD

YOGA

Longer holds to build strength and stamina

Promotes flexibility

Improves health through organ stimulation

Pranayama (breathing) reduces stress

May wear out the joints faster

May be like calisthenics as transitions from one pose to another move rather quickly

Encourages using 100% of effort to maintain pose              

In yoga, you generally become very still to meditate.

Yoga, in the US, tends to be a kind of athletic discipline and can be quite forceful and demanding on the body.  The strenuous physical activity associated with most Yoga sequences results in the practitioner feeling the effects very quickly.  Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration.

 

TAI CHI/QIGONG

Postures flow from one to another

Improves range of motion

Proven to help prevent falls

Low impact

Easy on bones and joints

Over time, may release fascial (chi) blockages, reduce pain

Encourages using no more than 70% of effort to move through practice

The entire movement (which can also be vigorous), is a meditation.

The key to TaiChi/Qigong is  that even ordinary movement  can be imbued with the  awareness principles of movement and stillness. This kind of attentiveness amounts to virtually injury-free practice.  Scientific evidence supports the beneficial impact on health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system and the mind.  It is suitable for people of all ages and can be done in a few minutes a day.

SUMMARY

In summary, both Yoga and Tai Chi/Qigong are excellent for focused stretching, strengthening, and health maintenance.  Their differences are subtle but may be profound, depending on the practitioner’s likes and needs.

How will you decide which you will practice, if not both?  First, review the differences listed above and decide if one or the other appeals to your needs.  Then, find local classes and try them out.  Know that one or two lessons won’t give you the bio-feedback on which practice is best suited to your needs.  Once you have tried out both, take the recommendation of Bill Douglas, founder of Worldwide Tai Chi/Qigong Day.

Bill Douglas was asked, “How do you know you are progressing in your art?”
He replied, “If you find that you become more patient, more kind, more compassionate, more open-minded and open-hearted, and you sleep better, and get sick less often, and every single thing you do you are better at – then you know you are improving in the art of Tai Chi (or Yoga).”

About the Author:

First born, awkward teenager, young professional, wife, Momma, divorced wife, Grammy, wife (again), business owner, Fortune 500 Corporation executive, career coach, reader, writer, fly fisher, joke teller, fast driver, INFJ, Aquarius, Feng Shui hobbyiest, Starbucks drinker, Tai Chi/Qigong practitioner and teacher, Iowan....Of all my labels, momma, grammy and wife are the most cherished

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