Whether you’re a weekend warrior or deep into competition, incorporating yoga can improve and strengthen your golf game. It can also help keep you on the course for many years to come! A regular yoga practice can benefit the serious and casual golfer alike.
The focus this week is on creating a strong stance and improved balance. A stable foundation allows you to generate and leverage power, creating a more potent and accurate swing. Try these poses to improve the strength of your stance and balance. As you work, find a relaxed pace of the breath, focusing on full inhales and exhales.
Foot Tension Release – If the feet are overly stressed or tight, they may be unable to respond effectively to shifts in weight or terrain. A little TLC in the form of self-massage can go a long way to release tension in the feet. This is a great practice both before or after a round. It’s easy to work into your day, just stow a golf ball under your desk and kick off your shoes when needed. This can be done sitting or standing. If you choose to stand, use the wall, a chair, or your golf club for support. Place a golf ball under the foot. Slowly, move the ball under the foot. Apply an appropriate amount of pressure. It should feel good, in some areas slightly intense, but not painful. Try rolling the ball back and forth, side to side, and in circular patterns. You can also spread the toes and attempt to pick up to the ball with your feet. If the pressure of a golf ball is too much, try a tennis ball. Roll each foot for 3-5 minutes.
Core Isolation – One of the most important keys to balance is a strong core. From all fours, stack the hips over knees and shoulders over wrists. Press into the floor with the hands and knees, activating the core. Gently lift the belly and ribs away from the floor. Slowly, lift one leg behind you, keeping the foot in line with the hip and the hips level. Try not to bow or drop the belly and ribs. If you want more challenge, slowly extend the opposite arm, trying not to disturb your balance. Hold here for 5-10 rounds of breath. Repeat several rounds if you can. For an additional challenge, work up to holding full plank.
Yoga Squats – Standing strong and balanced is the start to a great swing. Stand with the feet at hips distance. Evenly distribute your weight to all four corners of the feet. Place a block or rolled towel between the legs to maintain the knees at hip distance. Take a deep inhale, stand up tall and tone the belly to the spine. As you exhale, sit the hips back, gently squeeze the block, and bend the knees. Keep the back long, shoulders open, and the knees behind the toes. As you squat, pay attention to the feet. Try to maintain the even weight distribution in the feet. Take 5-10 rounds, syncing the movement to the breath. When you can keep the knees in line with the hips and toes as you squat, remove the block or blanket.
Tree Pose – This is one tree that won’t get in the way of a great round. Stand with the feet at hips distance, evenly distributing your weight to all four corners of the feet. Stand tall, toning the belly to the spine. Shift weight to the left foot, turn the right knee out. Place the ball of the foot on the ground, the foot on the calf, or foot on the thigh. Avoid placing the foot directly on the knee joint. Gently hug the legs towards one another. Try to maintain the even distribution of weight in the standing foot. If balance is a challenge, use a club for assistance.
These poses (with the exception of the foot tension release) can be practiced with or without shoes, try it both ways and see if you notice a difference.
Best wishes for a healthy and happy golf season, this year and for many years ahead!
Interested in other yoga poses to compliment your game? Be sure to check out the other posts in this series for golfers: