Is yoga good for golfers?
Yoga is a synergistic blend of strength/endurance building, flexibility/mobility enhancing, breathwork, energy management, and mind-body-presence cultivation.
All of these practices can help you improve your golf game if you’re consistent and diligent.
The main objective of yoga is to help you experience union in your body and mind, and then extend that sense of unity to the outside world.
In this way, yoga helps you to become more embodied – to live more deeply in your body.
This means you can experience more body mastery out on the golf course too.
Yoga’s origins date back thousands of years and through each major period, it has evolved and transformed, much like the potential experience of those who practice it wholeheartedly.
6 ways yoga can help you improve your golf game
Let’s look at each of these in more detail and explore the further benefits of incorporating a regular yoga practice (sadhana) to your golf training.
Even though many yoga poses have uncommon names like Warrior pose, Vasisthasana, Pigeon, Crescent Lunge, Malasana, Chaturanga, and Lizard pose, it’s important to note that in their essence the poses are the same or similar to strengthening exercises you’re probably already accustomed to such as lunges, squats, planks, low planks, side planks, hip flexor stretches, and push-ups.
Yoga flow sequences like vinyasa and ashtanga unite these poses into one fluid, continuous current that is repetitive and activates the muscles.
This can lead to core, shoulder, leg, and hip strengthening, all of which are important for proper golf form.
Yoga can help you better take your address (setup position) by strengthening your core muscles while improving spinal position and posture.
Yoga practice (especially Yin yoga) keeps us flexible and limber.
Many of us, especially golfers, deal with neck and shoulder tension, weakness, and muscular tightness.
This can impact your address position which impacts your swing and performance.
Yin yoga is the opposite of the muscle-focused, repetitive movement of vinyasa and ashtanga-like styles.
Yin yoga helps to relax the muscles while working the connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments.
It’s a slow-moving and static practice of holding the poses in stillness for typically anywhere from 1-5 minutes depending on the intensity and nature of the pose.
One of the main pillars of yoga is called Pranayama (yoga breathing).
Pranayama exercises help train us to breathe better and more efficiently.
Several yoga breathing techniques involve diaphragmatic (belly) breathing which activates the diaphragm.
The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle above your digestive organs and below your lungs.
When you inhale you activate it by extending your lower belly outwardly and keeping your upper body still.
When you exhale the lower belly contracts inwardly towards the spine.
Breathing in this manner has multiple benefits such as increasing a sense of calm and decreasing the stress response in the body.
This helps you focus more intensely on your postural awareness, swing, and aim.
In yoga, we also intentionally breathe in specific ways to manage our internal energy.
The word ‘pranayama’ literally translates to ‘regulation of vital energy.’
Did you know you can increase energy levels just by breathing in specific ways?
Likewise, you can also increase inner calm and dissolve stress by breathing in specific ways.
You might not directly think of energy management as it pertains to your golf game, but learning to increase your internal energy levels through proper breathing can be a game-changer.
Mind-Body Connection & Presence
The yogic practices of Tapas (self-discipline), Svadhyaya (self-study), Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender and dedication), and Dharana (sustained one-pointed focus) are all meant to help you learn to live in the moment and cultivate presence and self-awareness.
This is especially true during times of mental, emotional, or physical stress and challenge.
If you’re a golfer these practices can help you stay focused, present, dedicated, and patient as you work on your skills.
Yoga practice leads to increased ‘proprioception’ or the awareness and perception of your own body movements and position in space.
Whether you’re flowing through a vinyasa class or working your way through yin poses, it’s important to remember that every pose, every transition, every sequence demands your full attention and awareness.
In order to fully step into the unity and connective space that is true yoga you’ll need to sustain focus and awareness of your foot position, your breath, and your alignment.
Postural awareness is extremely important in golf because without proper form everything else becomes unstable.