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.
This week’s focus for golfers is creating mobile hips. When the hips are tight, there is a tendency to sway during your swing. With increased range of motion the hips can turn effectively creating consistency and power. Try these poses to improve the mobility of your hips. As you work, find a relaxed pace of the breath, focusing on full inhales and exhales.
Lizard Lunge – Place the hands on blocks or on a bench to start, the hands will end up inside and in line with the front foot. Come into a wide lunge by stepping one foot back and placing the feet just wider than the hips. Ensure that the front knee is stacked over the ankle and the back leg remains active. Eventually the back leg may straighten completely. As you breathe in this pose, gently coax the front hip back, working to level and square the hips. Continue to use the blocks to keep tension out of the shoulders and neck. For a different challenge to the pose and to address the hip flexors, bring the back knee down. Stay in this pose for 10 or more breaths on each side.
Warrior II – Find an open hip stance with the front knee bent and the back leg straight. Align the front knee over the ankle, with the knee and foot pointing directly to the top of the mat. The back foot will be parallel to the back edge of the mat. When the ankle allows, the toes can start to move forward. Align the feet so that if you draw a line from the front heel it would intersect the back arch. Work to open the hips, the hips, chest and shoulders, so are parallel to the long edge of the mat. The degree of bend in the front knee will manage the intensity of the pose. Keep the hands at the hips or extend the arms actively in line with the shoulders. Stay in this pose for 5-10 breaths on each side.
Wide Squat – Take a wide stance with the toes pointing out slightly. Fold forward, keeping the chest parallel to the ground. You can use a club for support or place the hands on blocks. Sit the hips back, bending the knees, coming into a wide squat. Try to keep the knees behind the toes as you press the hips back. Keep the knees in line with the toes. Match the movement to the breath. Straighten the legs as you inhale and sit back as you exhale. Do 5-10 cycles, then take 5 breaths in the squat.
Standing Pigeon – Stand with the feet at hip distance. Shift weight to one foot and find balance. Flex the opposite ankle and cross it over the thigh of the standing leg. Be sure to cross above the knee with the ankle bone to the outside of the thigh. Using a chair or club to aid your balance, sit the hips back as if you are settling on a chair. Make sure the knee of the standing leg does not jut forward, keep the knee behind the toes. Find the sweet spot where you can sit back, but also keep the stacked knee dropping towards the floor. Stay for 5-10 breaths on each side.
It can take time to open up the hips, to try to practice consistently and be patient. For help with eliminate the sway of your hips in your swing, work with a local PGA professional.
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: