The ancient Chinese believed that the body and the mind should be in harmony for a person to be healthy. So they developed holistic wellness systems like Qi Gong and Tai Chi that combined physical exercises with deep breathing techniques and meditative practices. Like many Eastern practices, Qi Gong and Tai Chi too were shrouded in mystery till Western scientists uncovered their many health benefits. Although these practices have become popular and people sign up for classes in droves, many do not know how does Qi Gong differ from Tai Chi.
Difference #1: Origins
Ancient Chinese medical practitioners believed that a person falls sick when his qi or vital energy cannot flow freely throughout his body. So they created various mind-body exercises to remove blockages in the path of qi and make the energy flow smoothly. These scattered methods were developed into a standardized system called Qi Gong in the 3rd century B.C. So Qi Gong was created primarily as a physical and mental healing practice. But over the years, different Qi Gong styles that emphasized healing, meditation, or martial techniques were developed.
Tai Chi also emphasizes the mind-body connection, but it was developed primarily as a self-defense practice in the 14th century A.D. It has roots in several ancient Chinese martial arts practices, and every Tai Chi move can be applied as a combat technique. But over the years, the martial exercises in Tai Chi were modified to engage the mind more and provide a holistic healing experience.
Difference #2: Exercises
To the untrained eye, the slow, relaxed, and rhythmic movements of Qi Gong and Tai Chi appear similar. Many moves are indeed the same, but if you look closely, you will notice a distinct difference in the exercise routines.
A Qi Gong routine can consist of a single movement that is repeated or at best, just a few simple moves that are performed over and over again. In some Qi Gong routines, the practitioner has to be still and only concentrate on his breathing. In contrast, a Tai Chi routine consists of several complex moves that have be performed without pauses. So the body is always on the move during a Tai Chi routine. Several movements make up a Tai Chi “form.” Generally, it takes a person a lifetime to master one such form.
It may not be readily evident, but Tai Chi routines follow strict postural rules. For instance, throughout an exercise, the knees of the practitioner should be perfectly aligned with his feet and never extend beyond his toes. Qi Gong moves are not so rigid, and some instructors adjust them to suit the learner’s physical abilities.
Difference #3: Benefits
Both Qi Gong and Tai Chi have evolved over the years to become comprehensive wellness practices that deliver a host of physical and mental health benefits. Both these practices are relaxing, calm the mind, and improve balance, coordination, and flexibility. However, Tai Chi exercises with their martial arts roots emphasize strength and flexibility more than Qi Gong moves. The unsupported arm exercise in Tai Chi and postures where the practitioner has to balance his body on one leg help develop muscular strength and endurance.
Tai Chi routines are more complex to master than Qi Gong. The practitioner has to remember several complex movements in their correct sequence to complete a Tai Chi routine. The cognitive challenges of mastering Tai Chi make it more effective than Qi Gong as an anti-aging exercise for the elderly.
When you know how does Qi Gong differ from Tai Chi, you can choose a wellness program that suits your physical abilities and meets your needs perfectly.
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