Lets start by briefly looking at a description of both Tai Chi and Qigong. Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that involves the use of breathing exercises, physical movement and meditation. Qigong is an ancient Chinese practice that is designed to cultivate your Qi or natural energy that the Chinese believe flows in all living things. This practice involves the use of various movements, self-massage, meditation and breathing. Sounds like instead of a lot of differences, Tai Chi and Qigong are really very similar in nature and in fact you may often find the two practiced in harmony with each other.
Perhaps the main difference between Tai Chi and Qigong lies in how they are practiced and because of this, how each manipulates the flow of energy within your body. When you set out to learn Tai Chi, you are taught a series of forms or exercises that are intended to take you approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete and at least one year to learn, after which they will take you a lifetime to actually master. On the other hand, Qigong is a series of easy to learn exercises that you will learn very quickly as you will repeat them time and again.
You will find that many of these exercises are the same as those practiced in Tai Chi and that the practice of them is often referred to as Tai Chi Qigong since this is a combination of the two. As you practice Tai Chi you are supposed to focus your energies on a particular exercise or part of your body. This way you are directing the flow of energy in your body in such a way as to achieve maximum advantage from the exercises.
Your main focus is on your posture and alignment and while you will be doing essentially the same thing in Qigong, but herein lies a major difference between the two practices. In Qigong the rules are somewhat more relaxed. Following along these lines, you will find a major difference in Tai Chi and Qigong. In Tai Chi you will be encouraged to practice in a group or with a partner as the belief is that touching hands with another person actually increases your energy levels.
In Qigong, the only type of touching that goes on is self-massage or the use of reflexology. Continuing on in this vein, when you are involved in Qigong you get to practice a small set of exercises over and over again. In Tai Chi you can practice one set of exercises for a set number of repetitions and then go on to the next set. Perhaps the biggest difference in Tai Chi and Qigong is that it can take you a very long time to learn Tai Chi and the up to 108 forms, Qigong is much easier to learn and you will see the health benefits far more quickly.
Tai Chi and Qigong Conclusion
Yet even with this, more people still seem to prefer to learn Tai Chi as it offers a far more relaxed form of exercise and as many people put it, the forms are very interesting and fun to learn. Each person must make their own decision and should always check with their doctor before beginning any form of exercise.