Does Tai Chi Improve Flexibility?

May 18, 2022
Does Tai Chi Improve Flexibility


Exploring Tai Chi and Flexibility

You’re not as limber as you once were. Now you’re searching for ways to increase and maintain your flexibility—but you also want to find an exercise that relaxes you and leaves you feeling good overall.

After trying several different avenues, you wonder, “Does Tai Chi increase flexibility?”

Whether you’ve exercised your entire life or are just getting started, Tai Chi may benefit you—but will it actually help with flexibility?


Keep reading to learn more about how Tai Chi helps flexibility, other exercises that may be beneficial, and how Body and Brain Yoga Tai Chi can help.

Table of Contents

The Practice of Tai Chi
The Importance of Remaining Flexible
Does Tai Chi Increase Flexibility?
Types of Flexibility Tai Chi Can Help With
Is Tai Chi Good for Mobility?
What Additional Practices May Help Increase Flexibility and Mobility?
The Practice of Tai Chi at Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi

The Practice of Tai Chi

Often referred to as “meditation in motion,” the practice of Tai Chi is a mind-body practice that originates as a Chinese martial art.

Tai Chi is a series of movements performed slowly, in a focused manner, while practicing deep breathing. It is a noncompetitive, self-paced practice of physical exercise.

Each of the different Tai Chi poses and postures that flow from one to another without pause, keeping your body constantly in motion.

This “meditation in motion” is said to add great value to those who practice by helping them deal with or prevent a wide range of health problems.

Tai Chi may offer a wide variety of benefits like…

• Improved posture
• Improved pain management
• Lower stress levels
• Improved muscular tone
• And more

What makes the practice of Tai Chi so beneficial, and does Tai Chi Improve flexibility?

The answer isn’t black and white. Continue reading to learn the different ways that Tai chi may improve your physical and mental flexibility.

The Importance of Remaining Flexible

Before we go into how tai chi may improve flexibility, let’s dive into the importance of staying flexible.

The benefits of remaining flexible don’t stop reducing the risk of future injuries. Continuing to stretch and keep your muscles limber and flexible also helps to:

• Increase your range of motion
• Decrease muscle tension
• Have better posture
• Help you deal with pain
• Improve circulation
• And more

But flexibility won’t come (or stay) without persistence. So remaining committed to a healthy regimen—like yoga—is necessary.

For those who lack the flexibility they desire, it can take months of practicing yoga to really see results—one or two sessions aren’t going to be enough to build and maintain the effects.

Does Tai Chi Increase Flexibility?

Generally speaking, Tai Chi is not a common practice done to increase flexibility. Although it’s not a common practice, it doesn’t mean it can’t help keep you limber.

Some research has found that practicing Tai Chi may promote physical flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular health.

But physical flexibility isn’t the only way Tai Chi can be beneficial—research also suggests it may help the flexibility and plasticity of your mind.

Types of Flexibility Tai Chi Can Help With

According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, the practice has both physical and psychological benefits. Aside from being a safe and effective way to promote:

• Cardiovascular health
• Balance; and
• Flexibility

It may also be beneficial for older adults dealing with chronic health conditions.

Many people who practice Tai Chi may find that while the fluid movements may promote physical flexibility, they may also improve mental flexibility.

#1: Mental Flexibility

Tai Chi is all about practicing fluid movements and feeling the energy throughout your brain and body as you move.

As you practice the movements, specifically new and unnatural movements, and begin to feel the energy of those movements, new circuits are created in your brain.

These new circuits wake different areas of the brain which promote increased clarity and cognition.

#2: Physical Flexibility

Although the research is limited, in conjunction with other exercises, Tai Chi may help boost upper and lower-body flexibility—due largely to the fact that it is a movement-based, body-weight exercise.

Due to the same effects we mentioned above, Tai Chi may improve strength, balance, endurance, and flexibility by doing several things:

1. By training sensory neurons in the inner ear and stress receptors in the muscles and ligaments
2. Easing tension and stiffness, leading those who practice feeling more limber

Tai Chi is often referred to as the “gateway exercise” because it helps make jumping into exercises easier and more comfortable to work into.

Shoulder Flexibility

Your shoulder is a fairly complicated joint—with lots of connection points, making it prone to several issues, like:

• Arthritis
• Tendinitis (inflammation)
• Shoulder injuries
• Pain and discomfort.

…that can make even the simplest tasks, like getting dressed or reaching for things above your head, difficult.

One study, specifically, found that Tai Chi practiced regularly improved shoulder mobility.

Hip Flexibility

Hip flexibility is essential for how we walk, run, and move.

Without proper hip flexion—the ability to move your legs and knees to your torso—and hip extension—like moving your leg behind you—everyday movement, like walking, running, even standing, become more difficult.

According to another study, practicing Tia Chi regularly can improve balance and gait issues.

Is Tai Chi Good for Mobility?

Practicing Tai Chi can have positive effects on mobility. The fluid, low-impact movements have been shown to:

1. Help reduce stiffness and keep joints mobile in those suffering from arthritis in the ankles, hips, and knees
2. Improve balance and mobility in those with Parkinson’s Disease
3. Decrease falls in the senior community by improving balance and mobility

What Additional Practices May Help Increase Flexibility and Mobility?

Whether you’ve been practicing Tai Chi for years or you’re new to the practice, it’s ideal for mental flexibility and opening the door to additional exercise routines.

Both Tai Chi and yoga are similar in the fact that they are:

• Gentle low-intensity exercises
• Beneficial for your mind and body; and
• Are extremely helpful to aging adults

But is there a practice that may be more beneficial for flexibility and mobility?

Yes! Yoga, specifically, may be more beneficial to you than Tai Chi for improving flexibility and enhancing mobility.

Why Is Yoga Better for Flexibility Than Tai Chi?

Think of muscles as cotton fabrics, they shrink, but if you tug on them lightly and pull on the material's fibers, they stretch back out.

When you stretch your muscles, the same thing happens—the shortening with disuse gets fixed, and your muscles can extend to their full length.

The more stretching you do, the more flexible your muscles will become—making yoga ideal for flexibility over exercises like Tai Chi.

Yoga focuses on three main things:

1. Stretching
2. Breathing, to boost your mental and physical state; and
3. Strengthening your muscles

Athletes and gymnasts aren’t the only people who need to stretch—to avoid being at risk for joint pain, muscle strains, or muscle damage, it is vital that stretching is a part of a regular routine.

Because yoga focuses on stretching your muscles, and Tai Chi involves slow, steady movements of your entire body, without putting stress on the muscles, it is the ideal choice for improving flexibility.

At Body Brain Yoga & Tia Chi, our yoga classes offer a wide variety of yoga exercises and poses to help you center your inner awareness, train your body, and improve your flexibility, balance, and mobility.

Our signature poses do more than improve flexibility; they have helped clients accumulate energy, strengthen their cores, and leave them feeling:

• Relaxed
• Refreshed; and
• Recharged

The Practice of Tai Chi at Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi

Tai Chi is the art of energy balancing—while you may not notice many physical effects on your flexibility, you may start to see a major change in your mental state.

When practiced regularly, many people report having a heightened awareness of their own energy, feeling calmer and clearer-headed, allowing them to focus more on what their body needs physically and mentally.

Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi offers classes that teach you a series of energy-balancing, flowing, slow movements derived from the martial arts and Qigong.

If you’re looking for a way to increase flexibility, both mentally and physically, Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi has a class for you. We offer the best holistic fitness classes online and in person.

Our classes combine elements from various Eastern practices to enhance your physical, mental, and energetic health. Contact us today to learn how our classes can help you.