Is OM The New Checkmate?

What do headstands and downward facing dogs have to do with your Chess performance? Maybe more than you think, this unlikely pair might just you the competitive edge needed to take your chess game to the next level.

What is Yoga and why is it so popular? Yoga is a 5,000 year old, ancient practice from India. The word Yoga means to yoke or bring union to. In the West Yoga is mostly practiced in its physical form but Yoga is far reaching and includes many different philosophies and practices. 

Due to our stressed out and sedentary nature, the physical practice of Yoga has become increasingly popular in the West. Practitioners often experience therapeutic benefits such as less muscle tension, decrease in stress, better sleep, and more energy.

As a private Yoga instructor in NYC; I have helped CEOs, doctors, lawyers, and many other wonderful professions take their Yoga of their mat and into their everyday lives. 

Below are 3 therapeutic benefits of Yoga that can also improve your chess game! 

  1. Concentration- Practicing Yoga is not only training your body but also your mind. Yoga heavily encourages the practice of mindful breathing. Anytime a practitioner loses the breathe count, they are encouraged to redirect their thoughts back to the breath. This creates a clear more focused mind. This very simple tool can be used both on and off the yoga mat to encourage clear focused thought in moments that may feel hard or overwhelming, like a difficult Chess match!
  1. Reduces Stress- Do you ever get nervous before a big game or match? An overactive nervous system is probably to blame. When you perceive a situation as somewhat of a risk your body can kick your nervous system into overdrive. Your heart beats faster, your muscles contract, and your palms feel sweaty. This adrenaline rush can work to our advantage in some situations but for chess a game that requires skill and critical thinking for longer periods of time, it’s best to keep the nervous system in a more balanced response. Yoga teaches us more control of our body and our responses. The practice of learning poses that are difficult or seemingly beyond our reach, while practicing mindful breathing and focus re-educates our nervous system response. Learning Yoga literally changes our boundaries and fear response triggers, keeping our nervous system in a more balanced response.
  1. Improves Posture- Everyone can agree that confidence is key, it’s one of the few mindset hacks that truly works at tackling any difficult task, like winning a chess match. But did you know, that our posture affects our biochemistry, mood, and ability to feel confident and powerful. Unfortunately for many of us it’s not just as simple as remembering to sit up straighter. Postural misalignments happen over years and are often accompanied by muscle atrophy and tightness. This means the right muscle must be activated again while other muscle groups must be lengthened. Many Yogis often find their posture improves because Yoga moves the spine in multiple directions opening the chest, upper/lower back, and legs while simultaneously strengthening the abdominals and paraspinal muscles. This means Yoga may be the answer  if you want to walk into any chess match presenting yourself confidently!

Most importantly just like chess you can take the skills you learn in Yoga into your daily life. Regardless of what you are mastering in your chess game, Yoga can provide an overall more centered and purposeful life. 

By- Alli Bradley, Private Yoga Instructor and Founder of Private Yoga Soho

To learn more about Yoga visit Private Yoga Soho online!

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