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By Patrick Kelly

This article was initially published at
The first 3 levels of internal training in TAIJI & YOGA are
1. control of internal movements
2. control of instinctive processes
3. control of the body's energy system

First we examine control of internal movements.
This is the usual level of practice - people seldom go beyond it. The mind merges with the first level of the body's intelligence, through awareness and subtle control of the joint and muscle sensors. Though the mental process is the same in TAIJI and YOGA, there are differences in the physical methods:

YOGA trains skill at reaching and holding extreme joint extensions.
TAIJI uses smooth movement within normal joint range.

YOGA activates the muscles with a strong contraction to extend the joints.
TAIJI gently activates, then deactivates (releases) the muscles, to produce waves of accelerating, then deaccelerating, movement.

TAIJI is practiced standing and stepping so the joints and muscle changes in the lower body are most active.
YOGA, with the majority of postures sitting or lying, has more activity within the upper body.

YOGA practice is individual.
TAIJI practice is 50% partner exercises.

TAIJI's skilled standing interactive movements which train the intention aspect of mind (Yi) transfer directly into an active outer life, including some skill at self defence, both physically and psychologically.
YOGA's skilled extreme individual sitting postures which train more the awareness aspect of mind, suit more a quiet withdrawal from outer life.

Both YOGA and TAIJI match breathing with movement as a way of linking into the second level of the mind. Breathing is the only body process which usually functions completely instinctively yet can be easily influenced by the conscious mind (whereas, for example, the heartbeat or body temperature cannot be so easily influenced).

Both YOGA and TAIJI, when practiced internally, lead to a strong and energised physical system with the potential for a healthy life, well beyond the normal lifespan. My Raja Yoga teacher lived to approximately 108 and one of my Daoist teachers is still alive and well at 116 (he suggests that the natural lifespan of the human body is 120 years).

(Please note: TAIJI & YOGA are not business opportunities and they are not lifestyle options. Do not support - with your energy, time or money - those who pursue these low purposes as they detract from the propogation of the true art).
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