The Difference Between Breathing in Yoga and Tai Chi

As Nate and I were discussing specific breathing challenges in qigong and Tai Chi, he started to explain the way he had learned to work with breathing and movement in his yoga training.

It’s fascinating to compare strategies for working with the mind-body connection across different systems, and while this is by no means a definitive exploration of similarities and differences, I think you’ll see that there are two distinct approaches.

Does this difference make sense to you? How does it compare to other breathing/meditation/mindfulness practices you’ve explored? Leave a comment and let us know!

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  1. Hello there- I happened to be pulled back to the site today-now, and when I saw this I had a thought I felt compelled to write (you, Dan, seemed to reference it near the end ~3:50 or so). About how using the breath with a flow- each revs the other, and as breathing is more linked into nerves as well as the mind that is driving- it can “rev up” emotions as well as psych-ologic structures. (as i wrote this it might seem that lengthening or Yin-Yang merids/wrapping or spiralling/jumping also involve the nerves, but it doesn’t seem to have this destabilizing affect to “pierce the subcon-con barrier”.. ) anyway, it really sunk into me how Bruce emphasized that doing a practice like using a “flow” (ie pulsing) to drive breathing and breathing to drive “flow” (pulsing)… thus a fdbk cycle… can bring up “stuff”- tapping things out of awareness.. if one’s practice allows you to recognize that “contact” (surge/shift in breathing or movement or mind’s cliarity) that is good, as you can dive the depths… but if one is caught up in it.. that can ‘wirein’ some strange links (not to good)… thus seated meditation (or even lying down)… not moving, still-mind.. thus only doing the “flow” and breathing… so can catch changes.. even in Standing practice that may be missed, but more of a focus (thus a posture or Santi).. Bagua can be a good vehicle (at a plateau in one’s practice (between the shifts where one is “learning the walk/change” better- thus it isn’t “auto)… if in a non-auto mode, and/or if the practice itself involves shifting awareness into different “modes” for different stages of the set (ie Marriage of H&E, or Tai Chi Form)… in theory at high enough lvl but then… (as you mention, I recall often speaking to people about Bagua and mentioning ways of doing the set, like for ex not twisting the spine, or “how choose when to make the change- its motivation” and reply has been ‘such-and-such teacher does it… well but the way they describe their practice (Dragon soaring in the clouds, allowing the Energy of the Event itself to change you as it arises… umm)

    anyway- thus I link in when in stationary practice, but not in movement, and even when I do in stationary.. for whatever I practice after that (ie if a different set in a practice session) and for later in the day, I am sure to keep reminding myself to check in… how am I feeling (how often see a yoga person who practices early in the morning and not through the day but you see them afternoonish and see the bug eyes or just the slightly jitttery jerkiness… (maybe obviously, maybe just in their ‘ching’ energy vib, maybe a sense in their chi flows.. but not smooth-even-connected).

    It helped me to write this out for myself- I need to review this at times, as I did that myself years ago- cheers


  2. Hey Gary,
    I think the practice of activating something through rhythm and flow, then sitting back to see what it does on its own is pure gold.

  3. Yeah- taking that in context what you spoke with Paul C in Radio#2 (great material hidden in there) about “purpose”- the trick being what is possible and potential isn’t even guessed at, and many of the assumptions of any level (not just beginner, but when-ever as realization reveals later)- clearly “no pain no gain” or something like that, and then “get” oh- not necessarily. So in regards to your comment the key is being able to see what it does (especially as that “part that is doing the seeing” can be affected- how not to be caught up in that).

    Secondly reminds me to the Bruce concept that incrreasing “chi-flow” in the psych-mental-emotional structure amplifies everything…. (just like in the body, but that’s usually all boats lifted with the tide, while amping in the mind increases thinking- clarity, also complexes- activates dormant.. and approaches one’s “Threshold”- in the sense that at a small intensity, nearly on is ok- if AMP it way up, what was only a bit off becomes clearly out of balance…

    if in addition the AMP enervates irritation and snappiness or such- then what feels off, one doesn’t just shrug off, but is driven nuts by… Etc.. and all this can be “In Awareness” but out of ‘conscious’-awareness (like feeling something you are touching with a third hand).

    ps gold is interesting reference- electrically conductive, meditation traditions (the golden radiance- the activated rainbow body), as well as Alchemy= good as gold, the gold-standard (the acid test re: Nitric acid)

    the only trickiness is what I’ve been seeing groups talk about “kundalini” mess-up or chi-sickness (let alone zoa-ho-lo-mo, however that is spelled)- and implying always if something seems weird it won’t be too much, and just let it sit and it will settle… while if working in the structural level- it is like taking-eating-drinking a substance.. maybe water, maybe sugary-caffine, maybe alcohol, but could be poison (perhaps not fatal but a neuro-toxin that has “re-wired” the nervous system)… or better analogy: change thing in a Software Application file- no big, change the software app code, could mess that up, but not affect computer? (or perhaps) change the config- OS level etc. maybe on restarting the machine it wont? or maybe it will and only once in a blue-moon something strange occur (like sudden “tremor” or hallucinations and chills)- which may persist until the system if re-coded… same in the energetic levels of a person, if one is “really” working with chi (if just the affects of chi, and not chi itself- then let it settle and all should be fine)…

    just a thought- cheers- best wishes- I look fwd to posts you may make about this TuiShou course (especially as how it may be the “same” as doing solo, as you mentioned- the “borrowing-absorbing and riding their chi in their movement-attack into your, start after arrive first.. was one of the best I recall him teaching before)- have a good day