Spring is in the air, daylight savings is in full swing, and Easter and Passover are history. And hopefully these April snow showers are over! That means that millions of people are eager to hit the links. If you are one of those eager golfers, incorporating yoga into your routine will help to keep you swinging happy and injury-free
Before we get into the what, let's start with the why. There are plenty of reasons why Yoga is Good for Golfers, including:
Practicing postures will increase range of motion of shoulders, hips, and spine to allow full rotation of back swing and follow-through.
Consistent practice will also increase range of motion of the hips, knees, ankles and feet which will allow greater ease with squatting so you can size up your shot on the putting green and pick up your ball with greater ease.
Many yoga postures are great for increasing the flexibility of hamstrings. Flexible hamstrings allow you to retrieve a ball with proper body mechanics, putting less strain on your back.
Some yoga postures can improve core strength which will help your long game as well as protect your back and shoulders from injuries.
Practicing yoga, in all its forms will improve mental focus and concentration and that can’t be bad for your game, right?
So now, here are my Top Ten Yoga Postures for Golf!
These are postures that can be generally helpful for most golfers, including many twists and stretches for the shoulders and hips. Unless otherwise indicated, hold each pose for 5 to 6 slow, steady breaths. Breath in and out through your nose. If you are new to yoga, it’s best learn these postures from a qualified yoga teacher.
1. Standing Side Bend/ Parsva Tadasana
I am not much of a golfer but my client, Steve sure was! Here he is demonstrating his pre-golf yoga routine. Inhale->Raise arms overhead (with a club or strap). Exhale-> Bend to right side. Keep left foot grounded. Inhale-> Return to center. Repeat 3 to 6 times to each side.
Concentrate on lengthening through the spine and shoulders. Bend the knees slightly if the back is rounded.
Down Dog Variation on a Wall
Use this variation if you feel too tight to do regular down dog, if you donʼt want to put weight through your hands or if you donʼt want to have your head down below your heart. Also, sometimes itʼs just a more convenient pose.
3. Standing Straddle Twist/Prasarita Padottanasana
Keep the spine strait, lengthen out through the crown of your head. Keep the pelvis level. Focus on rotation through the thoracic (middle) spine.
4. Standing Hamstring Stretch/"Golfasana"
Hold the club with ʻcowʼs faceʼ arms (see below). Place the heel on a block or bench. Bend forward at the hip sockets. Try to keep the club in contact with the back of your head and base of your spine.
5. Triangle/ Trikonasana
Maintain length in the torso. Bring the top shoulder in line with the bottom shoulder.
Triangle Variation with a Chair
Use this variation if the hamstring or inner thigh muscles are very tight, if there is any pain in the hips or back or if you have trouble maintaining length of the torso.
6. Revolved triangle/ Pavritta Trikonasana
Bring the opposite hand to the outside of the forward leg. This is a deeper, more intense twist than regular triangle. This can also be done using a block or chair in order to complete the twist with a long spine.
This is a more advanced posture that is good for building strength and flexibility in the shoulders.
8. Simple Seated Twist
This simple twist can be done either sitting on the ground as pictured or sitting in a chair. Place one hand on the opposite outer thigh as the other hand reaches behind. Look over your shoulder. Maintain length in your spine as you twist.
9. Bridge/Setu Bandha
Try squeezing a block or ball between the thighs as you hold your hips up high. This engages the inner thigh muscles which helps to protect the low back as is moves into a back bend. Make sure there is space behind the neck and that the jaw is relaxed.
10. Cowʼs Face/ Gomukhasana
Sit between the heels with the thighs crossed. Sit up on a block or folded blanket if the knees come apart.
Cowʼs Face Arms/ Gomukhasana
This is the position for the arms in Gomukhasana. This can also be done while sitting or standing in any position. You can use a strap, a club or hook your fingers if pos
Keep in mind that this is just a partial list and the ideal routine would be one that is specific to an individual’s unique strengths and weakness. And if you are dealing with an injury that was either caused by or is affected by golf, see a physical therapist who can evaluate you and give you a specific plan of stretching and strengthening exercises.