Every golfer, whether amateur or professional, wants to play better golf, lower their handicap, and limit injuries. To make that happen, golfers must access all resources: instruction, technology, and the power of the body. However, if your body cannot perform optimally, it doesn’t matter how many sessions you take with a pro or how much money you spend on a new driver. Your body is your secret weapon for getting/staying in shape and shooting lower scores. And yoga can give you that advantage.
Like many fitness programs, a yoga class geared for golfers can help you achieve overall better fitness, increase flexibility to prevent injuries, and improve stamina, emphasizing core strength, breathing awareness, and concentration. Those last two are the most important and what separates regular fitness from yoga, allowing golfers to “feel the game” and “get in the zone.”
Here are 5 yoga poses that will get you on the path to better fitness and better golf:
Target Training Area: Flexibility & Stretching
Golf Benefit: Stabilizes the core, which creates power source and enables golfers to maintain postural stability while decreasing the chance of early hip extension on the downswing.
How-To: Lie on the floor and bend the knees until the feet are approximately 1 foot from the glutes. Inhale as you press the lumbar spine towards the floor and engage the glutes. Exhale as you lift the hips over the floor one vertebra at a time. Reverse the movement as you lower the glutes back to the floor. Repeat 7-10 times with breath.
WARRIOR 2 with SHOULDER ROTATION
Target Training Area: Strength & Conditioning
Golf Benefit: Increases lower body stability and upper body mobility, which creates a more efficient, powerful golf swing.
How-To: Start with feet wide and turn right foot forward and left foot in. Raise the arms to shoulder height with palms facing down. Roll the shoulder blades together and down the back. Take right elbow to the knee and left arm up. Pull abdominals in, reach the left arm toward the ground then back up to the sky. Repeat 5-7 times both sides.
EXTENDED TABLE TOP
Target Training Area: Core Stabilization
Golf Benefit: Builds core strength so golfers can maintain an athletic posture, creating a more consistent swing and more consistent shots.
How-To: Begin on all fours and draw the navel toward the spine, providing additional support for the back. Inhale and lift the right leg up, hips pointing toward the floor. Exhale and slowly lift the left arm, extending through the hand. To make this more challenging, add a crunch by bending the left arm and right left and bring them together under the body. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat crunches 5-10 times each side.
Target Training Area: Balance
Golf Benefit: Builds stability and strength in the lower body to maintain spine angle at impact and balance at finish.
How-To: Step right foot forward and shift all the weight onto this leg. Inhale the arms over your head and as you exhale, left the left leg up and back. Imagine the body as a letter “T”. You can use a golf club for balance or place the hands around the shaft of the club shoulder-width apart and raise above the head. Hold for 5-10 breaths each side.
LEGS UP THE WALL
Target Training Area: Post-Round Conditioning
Golf Benefit: Creates efficient kinematic sequence for proper movement in the golf swing. Decreases blood flow to legs post-round thus reducing muscle fatigue.
How-To: Bring the right glute against the wall. Shift the body so the legs are on the wall with the entire spine and hips on the floor. Place a towel or pillow under the head if the neck is uncomfortable. Alternatively, using a doorway, keep one leg extended flat on the floor and place the other leg straight up the edge of the doorframe. Hold for 30 seconds to several minutes.
Regardless of your age, fitness level or even golf handicap, you can reap the benefits of a golf-specific yoga program. Start slowly with the basics as we’ve outlined here. Maintain a steady, consistent practice. Commit to an open mind. And you can achieve amazing things on and off the course!
Written by Kirsten Hinz – Yoga Instructor at Elite Sports Clubs