There are Many Mental and Physical Benefits to Doing Yoga for Golf
“If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron.” – Lee Trevino
Increasingly yoga has become an important part of professional athlete training programs. In 2013, NFL coach Pete Carroll mandated yoga for his Seattle Seahawks as documented in Yoga Journal, and NBA star Lebron James has credited yoga with helping him to “stay above the curve to get to this point” as documented in Sports Illustrated.
Golfers can reap the physical and mental benefits of doing yoga for golf game improvement as well! Whether you’re preparing for the PGA tour or a recreational golfer looking to improve your game, implementing yoga for golf into your training program can offer endless rewards for your golf game.
Yoga postures are an ideal complement to the movements in golf. A consistent yoga practice helps to improve a golfer’s range of motion and therefore can improve his or her swing. Because golfers are constantly swinging from one side of the body, their back and shoulders often become much more developed on one side of the body. Practicing yoga for golf will allow you to become more balanced and symmetrical in your body. Above all, yoga helps to improve a golfer’s flexibility.
Ready to get started? Golfers, begin with these few poses and see how you feel!
Bird Dog Pose
To improve core strength, try bird dog. Begin in a table top position on your knees and hands. Stack your hips over your knees and your shoulders over your wrists. Breathe in and lift your left leg and your right arm up away from the ground parallel to the floor. Hold your limbs in this position and square your hips to the floor. Exhale and lower your limbs. Repeat on the other side. Complete three rounds on each side.
Revolved Crescent Lunge
Revolved crescent lunge is very beneficial for the rotation of the spine. To experience this posture, start in downward facing dog. Breathe in and lift your right leg away from the floor. Exhale and step your right foot in between your palms. Drop your left knee to your mat and breathe in. Lift your arms up over your head. From here, drop your hands to your heart in a prayer position and exhale as you hook your left elbow outside of your right knee. Inhale and lengthen your spine. Exhale and twist a little bit deeper. Hold for three rounds of breath then release your palms to frame your right foot. Tuck your left toes, lift your left knee off of the ground, and kick your right leg high into three legged downward facing dog. Exhale and return to downward facing dog. Repeat on the left side.
Child’s pose is a wonderful posture to promote relaxation in the body and the mind. To enter this pose, begin in a tabletop position on your knees and hands. Stack your hips over your knees and your shoulders over your wrists. Sit your hips back on your heels and spread your knees wide. Ease your belly in between your thighs and rest your forehead on your mat. Crawl your fingertips out in front of you. Breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Stay here for a few breaths or longer if you have the time.
Yoga for golf benefits the athlete as much mentally as it does physically. In his book Training a Tiger: A Father’s Guide to Raising a Winner in Golf and Life, Tiger Woods’ father Earl Woods reminds his son, “If you don’t clutter your conscious mind with endless pointers and tips, you make it easier for your subconscious instincts to guide you”. To access one’s “subconscious mind”, one must be able to relax. Yoga for golf promotes relaxation through a series of asanas, or poses, and breath work that help to release tension in the physical body and mental mind. Many people relate the flowing of one posture to the next in vinyasa yoga as similar to “being in the zone” in athletics. Yoga, like sports, requires one to focus wholeheartedly on the task at hand and shut out external distractions, which is vital to a solid golf game.
Let me know if you have any questions about these beginning poses, or how yoga benefits your body and mind in preparation for golf. I would love to help!