I’ll be providing useful tools, information, and hopefully little inspiration for all the gamers out there on the quest to incorporate yoga into their lives. I’ll be doing this from the perspective of an enthusiastic gamer who has tried quite a few types of yoga over a number of years. I will try my best to provide only the most useful content, and, at the very least, I will not communicate in jarring beeps and bloops and HEY LISTENs. I am eager to get started and share, so listen to me for a while, and my most sincere wishes that we will provide something useful for your journey.
First, let’s talk about attitude:
If you come to your mat expecting YOGA FLAMES...
…you will be more than a little disappointed.
So, let’s get this out of the way right now, examine our expectations (as best as possible), and maybe not aspire to breathe fire, extend limbs, or levitate (use your yogic mind’s eye, because he’s totally levitating in the last picture). Sorry, Dhalsim, you’re cool, but there are reasons you are problematic for our purposes, and not the best role model.
Yoga is a GRADUAL process, and it is very important to keep that in mind at all times. There are some immediate effects—you’ll usually leave class feeling relaxed and limber—but many of the benefits take time and require some development. The idea is that you do it regularly, and gain strength and flexibility over time.
Try to view it the way you would a Zelda game in its entirety, for example. Link never starts out as the amazing Hero of Time with an arsenal of legendary items and the Master Sword at his disposal. He moves his butt through several incrementally more difficult dungeons and collects relevant, useful items and information along the way, and improves as he goes. Yoga is much more like that.
One of the more nuanced and intriguing points about yoga, at least to me, is that you build a lot of this structure for gradual improvement yourself. You have your teachers and references, but it is largely up to you to connect with your own mind and body, carefully assess your present state, and decide what aspects of yoga are most beneficial for you and where your limits are. A great teacher will work with you on this, as Yoga for Gamers hopes to do! The best advice on the subject that I have heard is that, when doing yoga, you want to find and test your limits, but not push far beyond them.
Just like in a game, when you face a challenge that is way beyond the skills you’ve developed in the game so far, or as a gamer in general, things are no longer fun. In yoga, in games, in life: you want to find that sweet spot where you experience a sense of flow and engagement due to a balance between challenge and ease. From there, you gradually increase the challenge so you’re always in that state and you produce sustainable growth from tools and skills you understand.
Of course, you don’t see this process with Dhalsim here, because he is in a fighting game, and he has his set range of moves and is using them in a competition. Please keep in mind that yoga is most definitely NOT a competition or combat. You should never berate yourself or push yourself beyond your limits, as that is a good way to cause serious harm. There is a time and place for competition in life, and life will throw conflict at you, but that is not what the yoga mat is for. If done right, though, yoga can help you approach those situations with poise, objectivity, presence of mind, and a cool head. Cultivating a yoga attitude will have benefits that extend to the other areas in your life, as well.
There are a variety of tools and methods to help you get started, but I wanted to begin with this vital pre-practice information before we go into that.
Danielle enjoys yoga, writing, games, cartoons, and music. She relates a lot to Avatar Korra and is training hard as a yogi to learn element bending. She's also interested in exploring the element of PLAY found in both yoga and video games. Danielle is the one you see in the videos and the creator of Y4G.