Finding Your Center: How Yoga and Mindfulness Can Ease Your Gambling Behaviors

people in yoga class

Whether you started gambling as a way to connect with family or friends or as a way to relieve stress, you may be at a point now where you don’t feel like you can stop. Even though your financial situation is getting worse and your anxiety levels are increasing, you continue to sit down at the poker table or pull up your favorite casino website. All your joy has gone away, and you feel like you’re simply killing time until you can get back to gambling.

If you feel like you’ve lost all sense of self-control, it may be time to try something new. Yoga could be the solution to finding relief from your anxiety and managing your gambling behaviors.

How Does Yoga & Mindfulness Aid Your Gambling Recovery?

Yoga is a form of mindfulness meditation that can restore balance to your mind and body. For centuries now, individuals who practice yoga have reported remarkable improvements in mood, physical health, and spirituality. This is because they have learned to turn inwards, focusing on their breathing and senses while letting go of anything causing them stress. Why is this beneficial for problem gamblers? Let’s take a look:

Increases Self-Control

This ability to stay in the present can be incredibly beneficial to people struggling with gambling problems because they often operate on autopilot, not wholly aware of their actions. If this sounds like you, yoga could teach you to be constantly aware of your thoughts and actions so that you can make better decisions.

Connects You With Your Feelings

Many people struggling with gambling problems often hit the cards to chase away feelings of sadness, stress, or anger. Unfortunately, this only makes their issues worse. Instead of dealing with their feelings, they are left running a losing race. Eventually, they’ll feel more beaten down than they would if they had dealt with their feelings right away.

Yoga and meditation practice trains you to stay present in your feelings. It helps you explore where these feelings come from, recognize them, and let them go. With time, you will automatically slip into a quieter, safer mental space whenever negative emotions crop up. This is a healthy alternative to gambling in order to avoid your feelings.

Increases Your Awareness of Triggers

A study published in the Asian Journal of Gambling Issues and Public Health showed that mindfulness practices allow problem gamblers to recognize their triggers and deal with them more healthily. For example, instead of going to the nearest casino when something makes them feel anxious, they’ll jump on their yoga mat, write in a journal, or do something else that better serves their mind and body. 

Yoga can act as the perfect distraction when you feel triggered to gamble. It requires your focus to hit the poses correctly and expends your energy on something good for your body. By the time you step off the mat, you should feel more at ease.

Enhances Relaxation

By paying attention to your deep breathing and the position of your body while practicing yoga, you will begin to feel the tension held in your body and mind release. Your heart rate will slow, and your blood pressure will reduce, leaving you in a state of relaxation that will allow you to address problems with a level head.

Boosts Physical Health

A study published in the Nigerian Journal of Experimental and Clinical Biosciences found that exercise is an excellent supplement to treatment therapy for gambling problems because gamblers with poor cardiovascular and mental health were at a greater risk of giving in to gambling temptations. The type of physical activity you engage in is not as crucial as choosing an activity you will consistently participate in. Many have found yoga is a great form of exercise because it engages both their body and mind. This type of exercise and mindfulness training could help you feel stronger in all areas of your life.

Yoga Poses for Problem Gamblers

Now that you’ve seen the benefits yoga can have on your mental and physical health during your gambling problem recovery, you may be wondering how your practice should look. It can be however you would like. Yoga is completely flexible — take it at your own pace and do what brings you the most joy. To get you started, here are some yoga poses for managing stress and anxiety:

Finding Your Path to Recovery

While yoga and mindfulness can be great ways to manage problem gambling, everyone is different, so it’s okay if it doesn’t work for you. Fortunately, there’s an array of resources designed to help problem gamblers and their loved ones in New Jersey through challenging situations. Don’t hesitate to call 1-800-GAMBLER or join online GA meetings for support and hope.


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