Using yoga to improve your golf game 1

Yoga and golf are two four letter words that seemingly don't have that much in common with each other, but you'd be surprised with how much it can actually help improve your game.

Golf, despite what most people think, is an extremely physical sport that requires the whole body to work in one smooth motion. It's also an incredibly mental game. A distracted or nervous mind can end up with the yips, an issue common among athletes wherein they end up over-thinking, which detracts from their performance.

Fortunately, yoga has both mental and physical benefits that can help golfers improve their handicap.

Mental Benefits

As mentioned before, golf can be an intensely mental game. When you're up at the tee, it's all you. There's no crowd, no teammates to help push you along. You're alone there and that's where most people crack mentally. Golfers end up thinking way too much about how every single part of their body moves in unison. Try thinking about how your body moves while you're walking and you're likely to trip over your own feet.

Over-analysis is a common mental block that many athletes have to work through. Fortunately, yoga can answer that problem. A large part of yoga is meditation. It's not just a bunch of stretches. Yoga teaches its practitioners how to clear their minds of distracting thoughts, which can help players work through any mental issues that they may have in golf. It can also help push away any doubts or negative emotions and thoughts that may crop up while playing.

Physical Benefit

Using yoga to improve your golf game 2

Yoga seems easy. Most people who haven't tried it think that it's just a bunch of stretches. In truth, it can be incredibly difficult and is physically taxing. It, in fact, can give you more power on your swing that an hour lifting weights.

Power in golf and in most sports comes from a smooth flow of energy from your feet, through your core, and through your arms. It's an interesting conflict – you need strength to hit the ball, but you need to relax to allow your body to work at its best. Yoga can give you the ability to relax your muscles so that you can transfer energy smoothly through your body, increasing your body. Its stretches can also make sure that you're properly warmed up the moment you stand beside your first tee of the day.

Yoga breathing techniques can also help you smooth out your swing. In exercise, breathing is important because it makes sure that all your muscles are being fed the right amount of oxygen when they need it the most.

Any kind of exercise will help you improve your golf game, but yoga is the only one that will also help your mental game. Without a strong mental game, even the most physically capable golfers will find themselves underperforming at the tee. Combine yoga with golf and you'll find your handicap improving drastically.

How to Use Yoga to Improve Your Golf Game

How to Use Yoga to Improve Your Golf Game

Golfers will go to nearly any length in order to improve their level of play. Some golfers think that buying new equipment is the step they need to take to play better – so they spend thousands of dollars on the best gear. Other players feel that they need to learn from top instructors, so they spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on lessons from the best teachers in the area. Yet another category of golfers believes that experience is what they need most of all, so they make as many tee times as possible in order to accumulate rounds played at an impressive rate.

The truth is that each of these methods can help to raise your level of play. Buying equipment is probably the least-effective of the three, but it is still a valuable method when used properly. You don't necessarily have to buy expensive brand-name gear, but you do need to have a set of clubs which is a good fit for your game. Taking lessons is obviously a reliable way to improve your technique, and playing lots of golf will help you develop the many little skills that come together to create a complete player.

But what if there was another step you could take to refine your performance on the course? You may be surprised to learn that yoga could be that step. That's right – yoga. You probably haven't thought much about the connection between yoga and golf previously, but there is a stronger bond here than meets the eye at first blush. If you are truly committed to playing the best possible golf in the years ahead, you may want to be open to the idea of incorporating yoga into your regular fitness routine.

Of course, as is the case with any kind of fitness pursuit, you need to check with your doctor before getting started in this activity. Yoga might not look particularly demanding from the outside, as there is no running or jumping involved, but those experienced in the practice know better. Yoga can be extremely difficult, and it can tax your body in a way that few other physical endeavors can match. Consult with your doctor and inform him or her of your plans to get involved with yoga before you actually get started. If you get approval from the doctor, you can then start to use yoga with the goal of playing better golf in the near future.

Make Your Game More Flexible

Make Your Game More Flexible

The obvious place to start when connecting yoga and golf is flexibility. Maintaining flexibility throughout your body can do wonders for your golf game, and yoga is a great way to build your flexibility moving forward. The various poses that you are asked to do in a standard yoga session will demand that your body moves in ways which it may not be used to moving – at least not anytime recently. Many regular yoga participants report improved flexibility after a period of time, and that is something that every golfer should desire.

Why would you want to add flexibility to your body as a way of benefitting your golf game? The following list highlights some of the many benefits to be enjoyed on the course when your body is more flexible.

  • Make a better turn. This is the first thing golfers think of when they talk about the topic of flexibility. If you improve your flexibility, you should be able to make a bigger turn away from the target. As long as you execute the rest of your fundamentals properly –like lag and balance – this larger turn should equate to greater power at the moment of impact. Golf is not all about power, but it certainly is nice to have plenty of it on your side. If yoga can help you become more flexible overall, that added flexibility just may add an impressive amount of distance to your drives (and the rest of your shots).
  • Get into a better stance. If you are currently quite inflexible, managing to improve on that limitation could allow you to take a better stance before starting your swing. The typical golf address position doesn't demand much in the way of flexibility, but it does require you to at least flex your knees and tilt out over the ball from your waist. If those tasks are difficult for you at the moment, the use of yoga could lead to a better stance and a better swing in the end.
  • Avoid injury. Golf is a game that demands a lot of twisting, and it demands that you make the same types of moves over and over again. For some players, this repetition will lead to injury. While yoga is certainly not going to guarantee that you can steer clear of injuries down the line, it should help. A more flexible golfer will be less likely to incur an injury related to the rotation of their body during the swing. Of course, if you love to play golf, avoiding injuries is desirable because it means you can spend more time out on the links with your friends.
  • Play good shots from difficult locations. Golf is not played on flat ground. Instead, golf is frequently played on sloped ground, depending on the types of courses you play and where you hit your golf ball. When you stray from the fairway – or even sometimes when you remain in the fairway – you'll need to balance yourself on a difficult slope in order to make a swing. A golfer who lacks flexibility is going to have trouble steadying him or herself in such a situation. Yoga is all about balancing and holding difficult positions, which is great practice for what you will need to do on the course when you find your ball on a sloped lie.

Flexibility is one of the most important things you can gain from yoga, at least from a golf perspective. As your muscles get more flexible, you should notice that your swing becomes more powerful and easier to complete. You will probably feel better late in your rounds as well, since you won't be straining so hard to hit your shots. Gaining flexibility through the practice of yoga is something that can benefit you on the course for years to come.

Focus Training

Focus Training

Golf is a game which requires a tremendous amount of focus. In much the same way, yoga requires tremendous focus as well. As you are holding a yoga pose, you need to pay attention to your form, control your breathing, and pay attention to the instructor's directions. One of the things that so many people love about yoga is the opportunity that it provides them to take a break from the distracting world while just zeroing in on an all-absorbing task.

In many ways, this is the same quality that draws many people to the golf course. Obviously, practicing yoga looks nothing like playing golf in a practical sense, but the two do share the quality of intense focus. While you can chat with your playing partners between shots, you need to focus in on the task at hand before making a swing. Or, if you play a solo round of golf, you might be focused all day long on the goal of shooting the lowest possible score. Golf and yoga are both quiet, restrained activities which offer those who participate a nice break from the hectic modern world.

When thinking about how yoga and golf both require focus, we can see how individuals may be attracted to both activities. But can the focus required in yoga actually make you a better golfer? Perhaps. One of the problems many amateur golfers face is shifting into 'golf-mode' when they get to the course. The average golfer leads a busy life, combining professional and personal demands into a packed schedule. When they manage to squeeze a few hours out of that schedule in order to play some golf, it can be tough to turn off the 'noise' that makes up day to day life. Playing good golf requires focus and a sense of calm that is difficult to find when you are struggling to keep your mind on the task at hand.

You can think of yoga as an opportunity to train yourself in the art of focusing on a single task. If you were to attend yoga classes on a regular basis – twice per week, let's say – you would have frequent opportunities to step out of your busy life and allow your brain to center on a single task. Then, when you do get a chance to play golf, the idea of focusing won't be so novel. You will have been working on your focus during each of your yoga sessions, and it will feel natural to apply that preparation to the task of playing a four-hour round of golf.

There is another potential focus benefit to be enjoyed once you have spent some time in yoga practice. Despite what it may look like from the outside, yoga is extremely demanding from a physical perspective. As you near the end of a long yoga session, your body will likely be struggling to hold the poses as you fatigue. Learning how to push through the challenge of a tough session is part of the challenge – and eventual reward – of practicing yoga.

On the golf course, you aren't likely to face such physical demands. You might get a little tired near the end of a round, but you shouldn't be pushed physically like you are in a yoga studio. On the other hand, golf is a tremendous mental challenge, and you are forced to focus on the shot at hand even when other concerns – like pressure – are trying to get in the way. Managing to keep your focus while you are nervous over a three-foot putt isn't all that different than staying focused to finish off a yoga session in the proper pose. In both cases, you have to push other concerns to the side and keep your mind centered on the task you are trying to accomplish.

Yoga may not make you the perfectly focused golfer that you would like to be, but it should help move you in that direction. Just like anything else in life, you will get better at focusing your mind on the task at hand when you are able to practice that skill over and over again. Instead of only focusing your brain when playing golf, you can do so also when you go to yoga. It will be a great feeling when you have no trouble staying focused for an entire 18-hole round thanks to the benefits that yoga has provided from a mental standpoint.