Health & Wellness Senior Living - July 15, 2022

Get Active: Discover the Benefits of Yoga, Tai Chi and Active Senior Living

People of all ages have been practicing yoga and tai chi throughout history and for good reason. There are several benefits of these two practices that can help improve your health and wellness when done consistently.

Rivertown Ridge, our active senior living community in Wyoming, Michigan, encourages residents to lead fulfilling, purposeful lifestyles. We see how these practices can improve physical and mental health, so our team is diving into the benefits of yoga and tai chi to get you moving.

Yoga vs. Tai Chi

What is Yoga?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “yoga is an ancient and complex practice, rooted in Indian philosophy. It began as a spiritual practice but has become popular as a way of promoting physical and mental well-being.”

There are many different styles of yoga, ranging from gentle and restorative practices to more physically intense. However, all typically focus on three areas: the physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dyana).

What is Tai Chi?

The Mayo Clinic states, “tai chi is an ancient tradition that, today, is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and [is] accompanied by deep breathing.”

Often described as “meditation in motion,” tai chi’s roots lie in martial arts. Even though the motions may look gentle and fluid, each pose or posture can be used for self-defense. Additionally, and similar to yoga, there are multiple styles of tai chi ranging from low to high intensity.

So, What’s the Difference?

Yoga and tai chi are both ancient forms of exercise that focus on breathing and connecting the mind and body. When looked at individually, these two practices may seem different; however, the benefits of yoga and tai chi are extremely similar.

The main difference between the two is in execution. While yoga often involves holding various poses and postures for a certain period of time or number of breaths, tai chi is about performing fluid, dance-like movements. In addition, the asanas of yoga focus on specific areas of the body, whereas in tai chi, the movements are designed to incorporate the whole body at once.

Additionally, tai chi is rarely, if ever, practiced lying down, while many yoga postures take place on the mat.

Benefits of Yoga and Tai Chi

Improved Balance and Stability

Many yoga poses and tai chi practices focus on improving balance and stability. By strengthening the muscles that keep you balanced and stable, you can reduce your risk of falls and even speed up recovery time should a fall ever occur.

Increased Flexibility and Joint Health

Yoga and tai chi are great ways to improve flexibility and keep your joints loose. These two practices can help increase the range of motion of your joints while strengthening the muscles around them to prevent injuries. In fact, one study found that practicing yoga provided therapeutic benefits for women living with osteoarthritis in their knees.

Reduced Feelings of Stress and Anxiety

Yoga and tai chi are often practiced in calming environments that promote relaxation. When you immerse yourself into this type of environment and practice these exercises that focus on slow movements and deep breathing, you will likely feel a reduction in your stress and anxiety levels.

Encouraged Mindfulness

Practicing yoga and tai chi is not just about getting physical exercise; it is also about strengthening the mind-body connection. Because so much of yoga and tai chi focuses on breathwork and paying attention to the body, an added benefit of consistent practice is mindfulness.

You become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, feelings and the world around you. By practicing yoga and tai chi regularly, you can gain an expanded awareness of yourself.

Whether you choose to practice yoga, tai chi or a combination of the two, you can experience a variety of benefits in your everyday life.

The services we offer in our active senior living community in Wyoming, Michigan, can also help you enhance your lifestyle. To learn more, visit our website or contact a member of the Rivertown Ridge team today.