Yoga & Meditation For Gamers: eSports Pros Reveal All

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In this guide, we will look at meditation for gamers, and yoga for gamers. And I’m confident that you will want to start doing both by the time your finish this article. 

Today, gaming, meditation and yoga are coming into contact with one another, and there are lots of great meditation games.  

But what if you don’t want to play a meditation game and instead want to be amazing at games like Call of Duty, PubG, and DOTA? Well, then you might be interested in the 100 benefits of meditation. And you might want to start doing yoga. 

As both a meditation teacher and fighting game commentator, I’ve been watching with intrigue as more and more pro gamers meditate on the big stage and in many different game genres [First Person Shooter (Counter Strike, Battlefield, Call of Duty), MOBAs (League Of Legends, Startcraft II), and strategy games (Hearthstone)].  

Meditation and yoga are proven to boost your health and enhance cognitive performance, which is essential if you want to turn pro in eSports.  

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Benefits Of Meditation and Yoga for Gamers

This weekend, professional gamers Daigo Umehara and Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi are at Red Bull Battlegrounds, the North American regional finals tournament for Street Fighter V, one of the most popular esports games in the world.

The seats are lined with wide-eyed gamers watching their favourite pros battling it out in gruelling matches of Street Fighter V.

A row of speakers blasts electronica around the auditorium.

But at the front of the stage, Street Fighter V pro Daigo Umehara is sitting with his eyes closed focusing on his breath. He’s meditating. Specifically, he is practising mindfulness of breath. Beside Daigo is Tokido, who has famously touted the benefits of yoga for gamers.

Two of the best Street Fighter V pro players doing meditation and yoga.

But why? 

 

Benefits of Meditation for Gamers

It’s been proven that meditation makes you more intelligent. So perhaps it’s no wonder that gaming geniuses like Daigo Umehara meditate. 

Daigo Umehara is probably the most famous pro gamer ever. And he was the first pro gamer to start using meditation. Daigo started when he was a kid. His father, a martial artist, taught him a form of meditation called mokuso meditation [2], which is a technique used in Kendo.

By practising meditation, gamer Daigo has learned to calm his mind in the heat of battle, thereby giving himself an advantage in tournaments.

Calmness in the heat of battle

Research shows that meditating while young trains your mind to remain calm. So, by the time Daigo began playing Street Fighter tournaments in Super Street Fighter II Turbo (released 1994), his mind was more prepared for battle than the vast majority of his competitors. Perhaps that’s why he has won more major tournaments than any other player in history.

Daigo Umehara is not the only pro player to meditate. Daigo’s close friend, training partner, and competitor Tokido also meditates and does yoga, and he is currently the second highest-ranked player on the Capcom Pro Tour.

Tokido has often touted the benefits of yoga for gamers.  After he won the world’s largest fighting game tournament, EVO2K17, Tokido stated that he had put a lot of time into learning yoga to improve his gaming. 

Both meditation and yoga help us to stay calm in the heat of a tournament.

Information processing and cognitive functioning.

Games are packed full of information that you need to analyse in the heat of the moment. Analysing this level of information requires constant awareness and a nearly superhuman level of concentration. And that is largely why professional gamers meditate. 

There are over 100 scientifically proven benefits of meditation. Among those benefits are the fact that meditation makes you more intelligent, improves your focus and concentration, and helps you to remain calm under stress.

Meditation is incredibly beneficial for cognitive processing according to research from Tim Gard at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston.

With meditation, gamers can keep their brains fit so they can perform at peak condition.

Benefits of Yoga for Gamers

Yoga helps with cognition, relaxation and physical strength, meaning both your mind and body are in a better state to compete for extended periods (some gaming tournaments last whole days). 

By practising meditation and yoga, gamers like Daigo and Tokido help themselves relax in the heat of battle. And they also help their brains handle the constant flow of data in their games.

The sheer rate of information that flows through a gamer’s mind while playing is quite staggering. In Street Fighter V, for instance, players are constantly analysing “frame data”, which is essentially the number of animation frames that moves take to start, hit, and recover from.

Equally, in other genres like First Person Shooter (Counter Strike, Battlefield, Call of Duty), MOBAs (League Of Legends, Startcraft II), and strategy games (Hearthstone), there is usually a lot of information to take in and analyse.

Just as martial artists and athletes need to train the mind, so do gamers. A healthy mind and body are essential if you want to be good at video games. Hence why professional gamers often practice quite strenuous workout routines) [3]. One part of that training is yoga.

Yoga improves cognitive performance, heightens body-mind connection, boosts confidence, and helps us stay calm.  

Using Yoga And Meditation For Gaming Skills

If you want to use yoga and meditation to be a better gamer, I recommend these techniques.

1: Mindful Breathing 

Mindful breathing is always the best place to start meditating.  This is a gentle exercise in which we focus on the breath. To do this, we simply observe the breath moving through the body, and we allow our thoughts to subside. This relaxes the mind and enhances cognition. 

If you feel stressed during esports tournaments, mindful breathing will help you relax.

 

2: Mantras

Mantras are words or phrases that we recite or chant (similar to affirmations but more spiritual in context). Science shows that when we chant a mantra, we bring the mind back to the moment, we increase our focus, and we silence negative thoughts and doubts. This can be huge at a gaming tournament where the pressure is on.

Five minutes of mantra recitation can quell any anxiety you might have before a big match.

 

3: Guided Meditation apps

I strongly advise against using traditional meditations while actually gaming (see the note below). However, guided meditations are different. These are far gentler on the mind. A lot of meditation apps can be used in as little as 5 minutes. So, you can always squeeze in a little guided meditation at a tournament.

Take a look at my picks of the best meditation apps.

 

4: Yoga for gamers 

There are many reasons why I personally recommend yoga for gamers. Yoga is an excellent mind-body exercise that increases fitness while training the mind.

Plus, it can stop two of the worst problems for gamers: sore backs and carpal tunnel. 

Many gamers get bad backs while playing games. This is simply because of bad posture. Your spine is out of alignment, so you’re putting pressure on the wrong areas. This can distract you while gaming. And it can lead to injury.

Yoga will correct your posture, which will help you to focus while you play, and will prevent injury (there are even yoga poses you can use for the wrist to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome). 

 I’ve written a guide to help you find the right type of yoga for you.

Don’t meditate while gaming

Do not meditate while playing a game. [read: The risks of meditation]. This can potentially cause health issues. Always leave at least one hour between meditating and gaming. And consult a healthcare professional before beginning.

I hope you’ve found this article insightful and helpful. If so, please share on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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