Gaming and Yoga

I pride myself in being a bit of a fantasy nerd, I love video games of all kinds, and I am really into a collectible card game known as Magic: The Gathering, I’ll refer to it as Magic for short. The passion for video games started back in my childhood when I shared a Super Nintendo (SNES) with my brother and we played Super Mario Bros. until our hands were sore. Following the SNES was a Nintendo GameBoy (I’m proud to say I played Pokémon Blue on release week), an N64, GameCube, family PC, Wii and an Xbox. I have happily sunken over 1000 hours of my life playing Diablo 2, and Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 on PC, time I should probably have spent doing homework.

I started playing Magic cards when I moved into a home on Furby St. in Winnipeg. The house had 5 other amazing young adults living there, filling the walls with laughter, parties, cannabis smoke, and the most epic game nights where I was introduced to Magic cards by my roommate, and fellow wizard, Justin. My introductory purchase to the world of Magic: The Gathering was a pre-constructed deck sold in stores called Entangling Webs (each player uses their own pre-made or home constructed 60 or 100 card deck to play the game). I won’t lie, this pre-constructed deck sucked, but it got me thirsty for more. All of that time I spent gaming in my childhood expanded my mind to the possibilities of combos, synergy, strategy, and the overall nerdiness required to sit down at a table of fellow spell slingers.

I worked for CN Rail for a short time and ended up with more money than a 20 year old boy should have, so I spend a lot of it on Magic cards, my collection grew and grew, and then grew some more, eventually topping out at thirty 60 card decks and ten 100 card decks. I really love the deck building aspect of the game, it’s creative, messy yet organizational, full of fantasy and things otherworldly, and best of all it brings people together from all different walks of life, just like yoga does. Nobody cared where you were from, or what clothes you wore, they just wanted to see your creations shine!

Our play group would get together to play every Tuesday, but also on other days to build decks and trade cards with each other. We would encourage each others decks to rise to their fullest potential, helping by suggesting cards and strategies to use to help focus their win condition. Three of the six people eventually moved out of Furby house and found another house nearby in Winnipeg on Lenore St. where the Magic nights grew to an even larger level yet. The basement of our house was perfect for us all to hang out and play cards late into the night, and we did so regularly.

I have incredibly fond memories of those years in Lenore house, the house had an open door, anyone was welcome at basically anytime. Those years were also when I started practicing yoga and playing music in yoga classes (I wrote a whole blog article about my musical past, you can read it here: How Music Brought me to Yoga). I have these warm memories of falling in love with the practice of yoga and then coming home to a full house of my best friends playing my favorite game in the whole world. I am getting teary eyed just thinking about it as I write this, nostalgia can be so powerful.

Gary Gach on Drums, Matthew Carter playing guitar.

I recall driving home after hot yoga, perhaps a bit chaotically, just to try and get back to those card games that were happening in my basement, but more than anything just to see my buddies.

These days I have my hands on my Nintendo Switch, my gaming PC and yup, still my Magic cards. My buddies and I play online using our physical cards over a live streamed video. Here are a few photos of my setup, it’s not pretty, but it definitely gets the job done! I use an old cellphone of mine and an app called DroidCam that turns the phone into a wireless webcam and pairs it with your computer, the phone is then held to my microphone stand using good old elastic bands!

The creators of the card game have also developed a really intuitive website called SpellTable in which you can livestream online card games with anyone in the world, and click on their cards on your screen to highlight them to read them easier. It’s quite amazing. So even though I live in BC, and most of my Magic playing friends still live back in Manitoba we can still stay in touch, help each other build new decks, and support one another with our friendship.

Yoga has been a gift throughout all of these nerdy hobbies of mine, most of which involve sitting sedentarily in front of a screen or card table for hours at a time. My body often feels quite crunched up and tight after gaming for long periods, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, I enjoy becoming fully immersed in the experience. Yoga uncrunches, untightens, and brings some strength and balance to my body, plus the poses are named after mythical heroes and gods! Take Warrior 1, 2 & 3 for example, also called Virabhadrasana 1, 2 & 3, named after Shiva’s form Virabhadra, how cool is that!

Warrior 2, or Virabhadrasana 2.

By the way, if you’re a PC gamer, add me on Steam, I am thewarden2002, see you online!

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Questions about the yoga classes Matthew offers?

Some of my Poems

For the last five or six years I have been writing poetry whenever the inspiration strikes. I thought this platform would be a nice way to share some of my poems with all of you. Enjoy!

Islands

The island looks alone,
surrounded by the darkest blue waters.
The mind feels alone,
encompassed by an ocean of thought.
But,
the island is not alone,
it remains connected to the earth.
Supported,
like a birch stand, its fellow trees
meters away.
Connected.

The mind is not alone,
it remains connected to the body.
Touch me. Feel my presence.
My warmth.
I am always here for you.
I am beating.
I am breathing.
I am you.

Island and ocean, mind and body,
Seamless.

Universal Language

Fun is a universal language.
Fun is infectious but kind.
It bubbles up from the put of your belly.
It erupts from the tip of your spine.

Laughter is to be cherished.
The joy I can see in your face.
It bubbles up from the pit of your belly.
And you realize…

Everything is already okay.
Doubt is something self created.
I’m flawed and I’m okay with that.
Each moment carries with it an opportunity.
To learn from falling down,
to embrace your mistakes,
to have fun and to laugh,
even when you feel small.

Rooting

Grow deep like tree roots
the Earth beneath welcomes you
relax now, grow deep.

Reaching

Reach up like branches
the sky above welcomes you
reach up now, grow tall.

Perspective

Think a level deeper, to the space outside of you. Past the deep blue. Through the darkness of the vast unknown. Past asteroids and stars unnamed. Drift past the nebulas and black holes and the vast amounts of space between them and notice how small you really are.

Think a level deeper, to the space inside of you. Past the thin skin. Through the layers of muscle, tissue and bone. Down to each individual cell, each strand of DNA. Past the spinning electrons, the atoms themselves and the vast amounts of space between them and notice how big you really are.

The Rock

A rock looks to be still from a narrow perspective, but expand your view to that of the rocks entire journey and a new image springs to life.

From the rocks formation into the planets tectonic plates, to being pushed thousand of feet up in the air to form the mountains, to its continuous erosion from glaciers and powerful rivers, and its eventual resting place as a singular grain of sand on a beach or ocean floor. The rock has a fantastic journey!

Where are you on your journey? Take the time to appreciate this chapter of your life, but then notice when it’s time to move on, to explore existing in a different state. To reach for your heels for the first time in camel pose, or to listen to that deep yearning for a longer savasana.

The River of Flow

The flow of a river is much like the flow of the breath. At times the river gets calm and gentle, flowing slowly, softly and with ease.

But the river has the power to build, as does the breath, and shows its power thorough churning eddies, thunderous rapids and glorious waterfalls.

In all of these states there is flow, in every pose there is flow, there is breath.

Fresh Start

Every batch of beer is a new brew,
a fresh start.
Everyday is a new beginning,
a fresh start.
Every pose is a moment for mindfulness,
a fresh start.
Every single moment, this second here — and this one now –, each is a fresh start, a moment for opportunity, open mindedness, joy and inclusion.

Patience Under a Tree

Getting to know something takes time.
Everyday I could sit under the same tree,
and not in a lifetime
would I know its whole story.

Less

Can less be more?
No electricity,
the pipes are empty,
the pump is off,
the woodstove is inviting.
“Do less.” it seems to suggest,
“Sit in my warmth. Let me hold you closer.”
“I’ve got you.”

I fall fast asleep after the sun sets,
both a hostage and guest of the darkness and fire.

I rise as the sun does,
at first just a hint of gray creeps through the blinds.
The cold from outside continues its steady path inwards.
I feel it on my toes.

Thoughts come slower here,
where the batteries are dead and the outlets are miles away.
Where the water comes from a bucket you dipped into the lake.
Put another log on the fire.
Stay awhile.

Fragile Body

This body so fragile dances upon the earth.
Blood Flowing. Pulsing.
Contained by but a thin papery exterior.
It is pierced. I am spreading. Unconstrained.
My blood blends with the dirt beneath the grass. I watch from above.
It spills out of me crimson red, darkening from the soil and oxidization.

Where is me?

The boundaries are blurring.
To my knees, on my knees. Draining.
Sweat builds on my brow. Palms pulse.

Rushing.
Slowing.
Rushing.
Slowing.
Slower.
Slow.
She breaks through my daze with a calm
“Hello?”

We rush away. Let me heal.
This body so fragile dances upon the earth.

Internal Rhythm

And so we were moved. Seeing all around us.
“Journey with us” they pleaded, and so we left our boat decked setting foot to sand and soil.
Drawn deeper by that distand call, one that possessed our feet to move.
Rhythmically.

And so we were moved. Feeling all around us.
“Dance with us!” they encouraged, and so we left the shore, moving inward, setting foot to beat and drum. Driven deeper by our internal rhythm, one that called forth a willingness to move.
Artistically.

And so we were moved. Joining all together. We held hands, blending, moving ’round the fire with vigor. The stars above pulling at our attention, slowing our pace.

We synchronize with softness. Floating foot from soil to sky, and from sky to stars.
And so we were moved.

Tamed Ground, Wild Edges

Looking out over tamed ground with wild edges. Popcorn sky of clouds casting their shadows upon prairie fields and coulis below.

The wide and powerful river of Peace, cutting deep down through the fertile soil.

We walk trails through canola broken by black bear, past saskatoon berry and chokecherry lunch. Matted grass where she laid down to rest.

The city isn’t calling anymore, I can’t even feel its pull.
I could lay down in the grass and fall asleep. Here.

How can somewhere I’ve never been feel so familiar? Is it the prairie air? The taste of the dill in the borscht?
Longing for an open field with blowing grass, for hands in soil.
I can imagine the crunching of snow beneath my boots.

I feel a calling to this place as I look out over the tamed ground with wild edges.

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Questions about the yoga classes Matthew offers?