Tuesday, 7th February 2023 04:45
Home / Features / Five-minute filler: Yoga for poker players

The SCOOP grind is now well under way, which means thousands of men and women across the world are spending hours on end in front of their computers. While it’s fun, it’s not necessarily all that healthy, and so this article might be the most important one you read to help you stay fit in body and mind as you play online.

“Sitting on a chair all day, even one with professed lumbar support, is detrimental to our bodies in several ways,” says Lauren Gasser, a London-based yoga instructor, who focuses particularly on mental health and well-being. “We are compressing our vertebrae, restricting movement in the hamstrings, putting huge pressure on our hips and encouraging our shoulders to roll forwards.”

She adds: “In Asian countries, where it is still customary to sit cross legged or squat on the floor, older generations have far superior mobility and spinal health than those of us who always sit on chairs or sofas.”

Gasser visits offices across the capital and offers a chance for workers to break away from their desks at the end of an eight-hour shift, and help to undo the damage done by a sedentary lifestyle. But she also says that it’s possible to do some stretching exercises while sitting at a desk that can help with circulation, strength and flexibility — as well as all-over well-being.

“Aside from the obvious suggestion of getting up more often, and the often unworkable option of swapping your chair for a stability ball or cushion, just moving will make a big difference to your physical wellbeing, even while seated,” Gasser says. “Muscles and joints want to move, they need to stretch and be worked in order to stay healthy and keep functioning as they should. So rolling the shoulders back, twisting the spine, stretching the hamstrings, will all help to prevent the body from essentially stagnating.”

Gasser provided five simple exercises for poker players — or for anyone who spends too long sitting down — that can be done while either seated at an office chair, or during the five-minute tournament break every hour. Getting into new healthy habits is something worth doing immediately, and you can thank us — and Lauren — in about 30 years from now!


The backwards arm cross

Crossing your arms in front of your chest is a common resting posture and something many of us do without even realising. But the weight of those relaxed arms is actually rolling your shoulders forwards and putting added strain on the neck and upper back.

Next time you go to cross your arms, try to cross them behind your back instead. You might only be able to reach your wrists or forearms with each hand, but hold them there for as long as you can and you’ll start to feel a stretch across the front of the shoulders, chest and down the spine. This small change of habit can make a big difference to your posture and alleviate aches and pains.

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