Why Yoga is Beneficial for Golfers

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Living a healthy lifestyle often means incorporating active hobbies into your daily, weekly, or monthly agenda. This can differ based on personal preference, resources, and schedules, but one thing is for sure—staying fit doesn't always require a gym membership!

Golf is a great example of a hobby that doubles as physical activity. Whether you're walking 18 holes or perfecting your swing at the driving range, the sport is an excellent way to get your workout in.

Just like other sports, cross-training is a wise way to improve physical fitness on the golf course. One of the best cross-training habits for golfers? Yoga.

Yoga for Golfers

You might be surprised that yoga and golf have a lot in common, but they require many of the same characteristics.

Yoga requires flexibility, strength, and balance, no matter what level you're at. This can be seen by the slow and steady movements that gradually increase in difficulty throughout a yoga flow, loosening muscles that may be tight from other forms of activity. Yoga also works to strengthen muscles through continuous bodyweight formations, increasing endurance.

Golf, similarly, requires flexibility, mental stamina, strength, and endurance. While the sport is not considered fast-paced, the amount of walking and standing can create a feeling of fatigue (which often impacts an individual's posture). With experience or endurance training, this fatigue becomes less frequent. When a golfer has strong endurance, their game is benefited.

Health Benefits

There are many positive benefits for golfers when they start incorporating a regular yoga routine into their training regimen.

Flexibility

Yoga routines feature poses that are gentle and held for a certain amount of time or breaths. This allows the muscles and tendons in the body to safely settle into the pose in order to loosen and lengthen. This increased flexibility can help improve the range of motion on each golf swing and can lead to a more powerful overall golf swing.

Flexibility, in particular, can allow your body to endure strain without being permanently injured or in pain. In golf, there is increased activity on the spine, so added flexibility can help relax the muscle around the spine.

Strength and Balance

Yoga requires intense activation of your core to set and hold many movements. This increases your main core strength and can help improve your balance. These are both extremely important for activities, such as golf, which requires both leading up to and following through with a golf swing. Yoga can also help strengthen back and shoulder muscles, which are heavily utilized during a golf swing.

Mental Focus

Yoga and golf are both solo activities, which leads to a decent amount of solo training and time spent thinking through strategy and focus for the task at hand. A consistent yoga practice can help connect the mind to the activity and help direct your full attention to the moment you’re currently engaged in.

Yoga Positions for Golfers

If you're a golfer looking to add yoga into your workout schedule, here are some poses to get you started:

Downward Facing Dog

This is one of the most popular yoga poses. Use it to warm up, stretch, or begin/end a yoga flow.

  • Start on your hands and knees, making sure to keep hands directly under your shoulders and knees lining up with your hips.
  • With your hands firmly planted on the ground, push your body up and back, tucking your toes under and lifting your hips into the air. You should keep a slight bend in the knee.
  • Push your head through your arms and draw your shoulder blades down the back and away from your ears.
  • Hold for 3-5 breaths, even stretching your calves back and forth.
  • Release back to rest on your hands and knees.
  • Repeat 3-5 times.

Boat

This pose builds strong core muscles, which help stabilize balance. It can also help strengthen hip flexors and the upper back.

  • Start seated with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor in front of you. Stretch your arms out on either side of your legs, with palms facing up.
  • Lift your chest, take a big inhale, and lengthen the spine.
  • Hold the pose for 3-5 seconds.
  • Repeat 3-5 times.
  • For a move advanced move, lift your feet a few inches from the ground.

Side Angle

Practice this pose to help strengthen and stretch your legs and hips. Side angle will also help improve balance and building focus.

  • One side at a time, start in a standing position. Step your left foot back into a wide lunge, planting your whole left foot onto the floor (about a 45-degree angle).
  • Bend the right knee, making sure to keep it at 90 degrees and resting directly over the knee.
  • Bring your right forearm to rest on the top of the thigh and left arm to stretch up towards the sky.
  • Sink your hips lower into the stretch as you lift your chest.
  • Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths, then switch sides.

Pigeon

This pose is a great way to loosen and stretch the hip flexors, outer hips, and glutes. Some variations allow for shoulder opening, which is also helpful for golfers.

  • Start on your hands and knees, and bring your left knee towards the inside of the left wrist.
  • Set your shin down gently on the floor as parallel to the top edge of the yoga mat as you can get, ankle towards your right wrist.
  • Slide your right leg backward until you feel a stretch. From there, square your hips. (if your hips are not touching the floor, you can use a pillow or yoga block for support.)
  • Inhale and extend the spine, reaching your hands out in front of you.
  • Hold the pose for five to 10 breaths, then switch sides.
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