By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Does Yoga for golf make sense? Yes, and of course, many golfers receive healthy results from Yoga classes. If you ask most instructors which teaching opportunities they were made aware of, during their initial Yoga teacher training intensive, most will readily admit they learned of none outside the studio they were trained in. Regardless of the reason for this, most Yoga instructors are not aware of the wide spectrum of opportunities for working with the public. Networking with local golf clubs, golf equipment suppliers, driving ranges, and miniature golf courses is an opportunity for Yoga teachers. Additionally, classes and sessions would have to be customized for the exact needs of golfers, and it must be remembered that there is a wide variation in pre-existing injuries, age, fitness level, and flexibility among golfers. Much like Yoga practitioners, golfers cover a wide gambit.
For Golf Fitness
For fitness-minded golfers, Yogic exercise may appear to be less of a challenge than it can be. These “alpha types” will enjoy physically challenging sessions – especially Vinyasa Yoga or any style which focuses on continuous movement. These flow Yoga sessions are very effective therapy for personalities, who deal with any kind of discomfort, by challenging themselves physically and mentally. Many muscles and body parts are being used during a golf swing, including the back, shoulders, abdominal muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. For golfers to get the most out of their game, it’s important to be relaxed and loose. Yoga for golf sessions helps immensely with this, as well as gives the client a tranquil state of mind.
For Golfers with Pre-existing Injuries
An alarming, and an increasing number of golfers, play the game with an injured back. Some ideas for golfers, with back issues, are the Knee to Chest Pose, the Cat and Cow positions, the Child’s pose, abdominal work, the Table Pose, Locust Pose, the Hand-to-Foot Pose, Cobra Pose, Downward Dog, Eagle Pose, and a variety of twists. For golfers, pain and injury don’t stop at the back. Those who have problems with their swing, due to pain in their shoulders, can practice the Seated Spinal Twists, the Lunge with a Twist, Bridge Pose, Triangle, Revolved Triangle, Camel, Camel Twist, Bow, and the Half-bow pose.
Customized Yoga for Golfers
For golfers, who are looking for greater hip rotation and hamstring flexibility, some important poses are the Happy Baby, Cobbler, Pyramid, Staff Pose, Half-Moon Pose, and Pigeon Pose. It’s important to pay attention to the position of the hips when teaching or practicing these poses. Golfers, who are looking for more upper body power, should try poses – such as the single-leg Downward Dog, Sage, Crow, Wheel, Firefly, Handstand, and Dolphin Pose. Always remember – that the shoulders should not be crunched up while going into these poses. The shoulders and neck should be loose and limp.
Mental Strength for Golf
Pranayama is essential when it comes to practicing Yoga for golf. Golfers know that their game requires mental fortitude. Pranayama is the foundation for making the mind and body connection. This helps one to become calm in the worst of times. Getting out of a sandpit, or over a body of water, requires a positive frame of mind. Yogic breath awareness is a successful tool for golfers who want to stay mentally focused and improve their game. Teaching Yoga to golfers is a huge field and teachers have barely scratched the surface.
Recovery Tips for Golfers
As has been noted, not all days are the same. Weather is definitely one of many factors why all levels of golfers need recovery days. After all, recovery days are a way for professional golfers to balance their practice days and give the body some rest. It’s also a day that’s often missed because of back pain. A lot of professionals don’t know how to properly recover from back injuries, which likely has something to do with the fact that there is no specified protocol for this kind of injury. Given these points, any golfer should practice gentle Yoga on recovery days.
Yoga Before Golf
Yoga is really great to do before a round of golf. For this reason, Yoga serves as a pre-golf warm-up, and it refreshes the body. For the most part, the stress you put on your body takes a toll. Overall, Yoga is also great for stretching out your muscles in preparation for physical exercise. Since many golfers will already be affected by things like sitting at work or even just the pressure your spine has to support all day. Yoga has long been praised for its calming and relaxing effects. Golf can be an intense sport, so you will often see these golfers practicing yoga as a way to relax their minds before or after a game. A five-minute Sun Salutation routine is great for mental stimulation. However, that kind of mindset is best before morning golf.
Yoga After Golf
Obviously, golf is a great way to relieve stress and enjoy yourself. Sometimes, exercise has a negative impact on the muscles in the following days, but yoga is a great way to stay active while recovering from potentially painful workouts. Yoga increases flexibility and eases tension while warming up muscles before play. If you usually golf on Sundays, consider investing in a weekly yoga pass at your local studio. You’re going to want to stretch gently after completing 18 holes, so give yourself the opportunity for peace of mind through efficient stretching with yoga.
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