Reading Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds
Spending time on the golf course is a great way to develop and maintain good health. Research connects this sport with better cardiovascular, respiratory, and metabolic markers, in addition to improving overall wellness. (1) Others simply enjoy the challenge that golf provides. Whatever your reason for playing, if you’re looking for ways to improve your golf game, yoga can help.
Yoga provides many benefits for all its practitioners. But there are a few benefits that are extra advantageous for golfers.
Yoga is a great full-body workout. The muscles it works depend on the poses you do. Some yoga poses help build stronger core muscles. Others build muscle primarily in the upper body, while some poses contribute to greater lower body strength.
More strength means more control over your golf swing. You’re better able to move the golf club the way you want from the beginning of the swing to the end. This provides more consistency in your golf game.
If you’ve ever tried to golf when your muscles were stiff, you know how important flexibility is for this sport. Yoga helps by increasing flexibility, allowing for more fluid movements.
For example, tight hip flexors can limit your swing. Several yoga poses are good for reducing hip flexor tightness. Child’s pose, Camel pose, and Low Lunge are three.
(If you’re worried that you’re not flexible enough for yoga, don’t be. Yoga doesn’t require that you have a lot of flexibility. You just stretch as far as you safely can.)
In addition to improving muscular strength, yoga offers other benefits that can add more power to your golf swing. This is thanks, in part, to the yoga poses that promote balance and stability.
When you can stand with balance, you’re able to put more power into your swing. Mastering a focused yogic gaze, referred to as Drishti, also helps improve balance and focus.
Studies indicate that injuries to the low back and lower body extremities are common when playing golf. (2) Upper body injuries can also occur, impacting the shoulders, elbows, and hands. Many of these are a result of overuse. However, several injuries are due to poor swing mechanics.
Yoga can help reduce injury risk during golf by better preparing the body to participate in this sport. It may also improve swing mechanics, according to research. (3) Better swing mechanics mean a lower injury risk.
There’s another benefit of yoga for golfers: you develop greater body awareness. Being aware of your body’s position and movements helps you recognize when each may be helping or hurting your golf swing. You’re able to make adjustments because you’re aware that there’s an issue.
Yoga is one of the best practices for improving body awareness. It helps connect your body and mind while making you more present in the moment. This latter aspect alone provides many benefits. Better golf is one.
Developing a regular yoga practice has mental benefits as well. Many who live according to yoga philosophy have increased spiritual knowledge. This helps them live a more peaceful life. It also enables them to have greater decision-making abilities and improved mental focus.
As a golfer, focus is critical. You must be able to focus on your body as you prepare for and execute the swing. Focus enables you to better direct the ball where you want to go.
If you’re feeling anxious or stressed when you step on the course, yoga’s breath exercises can help calm you down. This also improves your focus while relaxing you enough to take a good shot.
What are the best yoga poses for better golf? There are several. Some help by building strength in the muscles used in this sport. Other yoga stretches assist by increasing flexibility in the required muscle groups.
Here are some to try:
Bird Dog pose aids in developing good stability and balance.
Boat pose boosts core strength and assists with balance.
Cat-Cow pose helps keep the thoracic spine (upper and middle back) mobile.
Chair pose strengthens and tones the outer hips, also adding stability to the knees.
Child’s pose reduces hip flexor tightness while relaxing the back and lengthening the spine.
Downward Facing Dog pose loosens tight shoulder muscles, along with stretching the calves.
Fish pose is a yoga pose good for opening hip flexors while contributing to stronger abs.
Low Lunge stretches the thighs, groin, and hips, also strengthening the shoulders and back.
Triangle pose builds strength in the legs and back, stretching numerous muscles in both the upper and lower body.
Mountain pose aids in balance, also increasing strength in the legs and hips.
If you’re ready to try these poses and enjoy the many benefits of yoga for golfers, you may be wondering how to fit this practice into your current fitness workout. Before deciding that your workouts are already in place, leaving no room for yoga, it helps to consider the other benefits yoga provides and how they can further help your golf game.
One such benefit is that yoga can help unblock chakras. If your solar plexus chakra is blocked, for instance, it can affect your personal beliefs. If you don’t believe that you can do well in golf or that you’ll never get a lower score, this can impact your results. It also makes yoga even more beneficial for improving your performance.
When adding golf to your fitness routine, it’s also important to do poses on both sides of the body. If you do Low Lunge pose with your left leg forward, for instance, do that same pose with your right leg forward. This helps avoid muscular imbalances.
Benefits such as these come from practicing yoga regularly. You can’t do yoga once and expect your golf game to improve dramatically. So, find a yoga class you enjoy enough to stick with it. If your schedule is an issue, do yoga at home. Take a class online or develop your own yoga practice.
If you’re not sure how to create a yoga practice that can help enhance your golf game, teacher training can help. ISSA Yoga & Wellness Academy offers an online, self-paced Yoga Teacher Training course. This 200-hour course is approved by the Yoga Alliance and covers proper pose form, sequencing, yogic breathing, and more.
Murray, A. D., Daines, L., Archibald, D., Hawkes, R. A., Schiphorst, C., Kelly, P., Grant, L., & Mutrie, N. (2016). The relationships between golf and health: A scoping review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(1), 12–19. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2016-096625
Zouzias, I. C., Hendra, J., Stodelle, J., & Limpisvasti, O. (2018). Golf injuries: Epidemiology, pathophysiology, and treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 26(4), 116–123. https://doi.org/10.5435/jaaos-d-15-00433
Sorbie, G. G., Low, Chris., & Richardson, A. K. (2019). Effect of a 6-week yoga intervention on Swing Mechanics during the Golf Swing: A Feasibility Study. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 19(1), 90–101. https://doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2019.1566845