Golf is a popular sport and many golfers are looking to improve their game by including the practice of yoga. The benefits reach far beyond the physical gains you may expect. It’s true that practicing yoga improves your range of mobility by increasing flexibility in the spine, shoulders and hips so your swing improves greatly. But there are so many more benefits of doing yoga that improve your game.
An effective yoga practice consists of particular stretches and exercises that target the Psoas muscle which is located in the mid to lower spine and runs along the hip flexors. It affects your ability to follow through all the way on your swing and keeping it flexible helps you to stay on the course for longer without back discomfort. Some yoga poses are targeted on shoulder mobility which not only gives you freedom of movement but also strengthens the connective tissue which prevents injury. The shoulders are complicated and delicate joints, easily injured when using force. Consider when you need to make a long drive on the course. If your shoulders don’t have a good range of motion, you won’t have the follow through to really push that ball where it needs to go.
Also important to a strong game is core strength. Yoga exercises demand intricate engagement of the core muscles which not only helps to support better posture, it protects the spine and also gives you the power and longevity all players hope for. Yoga conditioning increases your muscle elasticity as well, meaning your body will be prone to bounce back easily and suffer fewer injuries.
Stability and balance go hand in hand. Yoga helps to gain balance and develops a better sense of your center of gravity, which is ideal for stabilizing your golf swing. If you don’t have both stability and muscular strength, you won’t have the force needed to make that shot. Think about how your body moves when you make a golf swing; it is a calculated, skillful movement that requires stability, strength and flexibility to execute successfully and gracefully.
The golf swing has three main points of rotation, your two hips (internal / external rotation) and your thoracic spine. When any of these three areas are lacking in rotation we begin to see many compensatory movements from other parts of the body (loss of posture, swaying and arms bending). A lack of mobility in these areas also leads to un-wanted strain and loading on your lumbar (lower) spine. This is a key cause of lower back pain for golfers.
Specific yoga stretches affect the spine, as we all know how it can stiffen as we age and sit for long periods in a day, day after day. Expecting the spine to just be ready for action when we get on the course can be the cause for most of our physical setbacks. The spine is made up of many little joints that all need to move fluidly for full range of motion and to access full back strength to complete your swing efficiently, powerfully and gracefully. No one needs a spasming muscle or a pinched nerve.
And finally, the breathing exercises done in yoga eases anxiety, reduces stress and develops your concentration and focus, and that changes your game immensely. If your mind isn’t calm and focused, you’ll be challenged to play at peak performance.
To summarize; the main benefits of including yoga in your weekly routine are:
Mobility - of the joints to reach full range of motion
Stability - the balance required to activate full range of motion and prevent injury
Strength - the ability to generate force
Focus - the ability to bring all your concentration efforts together
Power - the ability to apply maximum force quickly and for long duration
A class or two a week is recommended for best results and leads to a more accurate and powerful game which makes it more fun. It’s a winning situation.
Testimonial from longtime clients:
"Nora has been teaching us yoga since 2009 providing training for strength and flexibility, as well as including Yoga therapy when necessary. She is a wonderful teacher and provides varied and individualized classes to address both immediate concerns and longer term objectives. We both play tennis avidly and Paul wouldn’t miss an opportunity to get out on the golf course. Our performance in our games have improved immensely over the years as our bodies have become stronger and more flexible because of our twice weekly yoga classes with Nora. We also haven’t had an injury in years and continue to feel unlimited in our movements. Her classes are relaxing and also therapeutic. We have benefited enormously from her services and enjoy her company very much."
Paul Morrison LLB, Miller Thomson, and Janet Morrison, M.A. C. Psych Assoc.