According to B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the world’s foremost yogis, yoga means union. From an abstract point of view it means the union of the individual soul with the Universal Spirit, but in a more practical sense it means the union of the body with the mind, and the mind with the soul. Although this may sound interesting, any poker player reading this may very well be asking themselves, “I don’t believe in that hippy gibberish! All I want to know is how can yoga help me improve my poker game, and win more pots?”
Such a question is more than fair. Truly, how could a spiritual practice such as yoga ever be applied to game whose God is probability and strategy? Well, as this article will explain, there are countless benefits to be wrought from the practice of yoga as applied to the poker world. It’s not that yoga will teach you how to outwit Doyle Brunson. Far from it. What it can do is enhance the functions of your body, resulting in higher levels of poker play and increasing your edge over your card buddies, at the casino, online, or anywhere else you may find yourself playing poker.
This brings us to the first benefit of yoga that can be felt immediately in your poker game:
Greatly Enhanced Physical Condition
When a person looks at their body, most people would say they see their chest, arms, hands, feet, stomach, legs and feet. But what truly makes up these various body parts? Two thirds of our total mass is made up of water. Furthermore, many of the functions carried out in our body are actually done by trillions of tiny organisms that house themselves in our body, becoming a part of our daily maintenance. On top of that there are about one hundred billion nerve cells that exist in all of our bodies. If you keep these factors in mind, and also consider that our circulatory system alone contains over 60,000 miles of valves, pipes and hoses which carry blood and oxygen to the various parts of are cells, you will realize that there are quite a few things going on in the body at any given moment. What yoga does is help the body take care these parts without even having to think about it, much like taking your car in to the mechanic for regular maintenance. When these parts are working in harmony, the mind is maxed out at its full potential.
While engaged in an intense head to head poker round, one’s capacity to remain focused and be patient is tested to the limit. Last year, the Europe and Las Vegas WSOP finals both saw over 250 hands played forcing the competitors to play hours of grueling poker. This is by no means a simple feat. Poker has the potential to be a highly demanding game, and such epic rounds are none too rare. Many think that sitting around for hours on end takes no effort, but this author begs to differ. With the countless functions going on in our body, how much energy is left for the mind to function?
Poker takes an incredible amount of mental discipline. Recent scientific studies have proven that the better physical condition a person is in, the higher the potential for their mental capacity becomes. This is because when one is in peak physical condition, the body’s functions are working more harmoniously and energy becomes more readily available and for longer periods of time. Any great poker player will tell you that stamina is a crucial tool for a player’s repertoire. Yoga helps to cultivate this necessary stamina.
To reach this state of physical aptness is no quick feat, yet practitioners of yoga report that almost immediately after starting a regular practice, they notice an increase in overall physical strength and health, as well as in mental acuity, and feel that they function at a higher level in most aspects of life. The goal is not necessarily to reach yogic perfection, just to be healthier, happier, wiser, and stronger in all aspects of life. Any wise poker player will realize that such all encompassing benefits can do nothing but increase one’s poker edge.
Leading the way
Although the link between yoga and poker has yet to be further examined, it is not altogether a new idea. There are professional poker players who have decided to take a different road than the hedonistic lifestyle Las Vegas seems to cater to, and the most well known of these spiritual, health-conscious poker masters is none other than the lovely Cyndy Violette.
Cyndy is a seasoned pro who has been playing poker nearly her entire life. She is a bona fide “World Series of Poker” champion, proudly wearing her gold WSOP bracelet around her wrist from the 2004 7 card stud high-low tournament.
According to Cyndy’s website, “She lives a healthy life and works to keep her body and mind at their optimum performance levels. Certainly one of the more spiritual players on the circuit, Cyndy spends much of her non-playing time working to improve her life and lifestyle. Cyndy is an avid reader — from Kabbalah and Feng Shui, to Self -Realization and Awareness studies. Cyndy loves exploring the spiritual and metaphysical side of life. Positive thinking and visualization are very important
to her game.”
Articles by Cyndy on her website talk about how living a healthy lifestyle and incorporating spirituality into her play has helped her achieve some of her greatest poker successes. Although she is a former practitioner of yoga, she does not tell people outright that this is what they must do to be successful. She does recommend eating healthy, exercising daily, getting massages (which happen to have many of the same effects as yoga does), and sleeping better. All of these bits and pieces of advice are basically suggestions to living a holistic, healthy lifestyle so that your mind and body will feel clear and strong. Strength and clarity equals stronger poker playing.
The next article will focus on the benefits of the mental discipline gained through the practice of yoga, as well as its sister practice: meditation. Stay tuned because we have only begun to scrape the surface of yoga’s potential benefits for poker players everywhere.
By Daphne Greene
This article was published courtesy of BonusWhores.com.
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