w/ Megan McKenzie, PAR72Yoga
Every golfer wants to play better golf. The average golfer tends to take up the sport later in life, first as a pastime or leisure activity. But then, most of us get hooked, and the desire to play better and lower one’s personal handicap becomes more present. The most common ways to improve in golf include lessons and practice, lots of practice! Some golfers believe new clubs will cure all, rather than considering the role of physical conditioning in bettering performance. Balance, flexibility, and consistency remain the cornerstones of a good golf game. Earl Woods once told a young Tiger, “What you are looking for is a soft, flexible, fluid swing – that’s power.”
As we begin our Canadian winter golf routines, remaining strong and focused can be a challenge. Golf is an athletic sport that is both physically and mentally demanding. A regular yoga practice improves flexibility, muscular strength, and mobility. For most of us, the ability to turn the shoulders away from the hips, becomes more challenging as we age. If we cannot create enough separation of the shoulders from the hips, this impacts our ability to swing freely, which in turn negatively impacts our ability to generate power and distance. You may have heard this shoulder-hip dissociation referred to as the X-factor, popularized by golf teacher Jim McLean – where the optimal position of the body at the top of the backswing is a 45-degree hip turn with a 90-degree shoulder turn. This can be quite challenging, if not impossible, for the everyday golfer.
These next few yoga poses will assist you in conditioning the spine and the muscles involved in the rotation of the body. Practice these simple moves every day to help create a more efficient and effective backswing. Stay tuned, in the next article we’ll focus on creating more hip turn!
Lie on your left side. Place the legs at a 90-degree angle to the body, stack the hips, knees and ankles. Support your head and neck with a towel. Extend the arms forward at shoulder height, palms together. Maintain lower body position as you inhale deeply and roll the upper body open, bringing the right arm and shoulder as close to the floor as possible. Exhale and return to the start position. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.
Lunge with Rotation
Same starting position as the previous pose, this time facing forwards with a club held at chest height, arms extended. On an exhale, rotate the torso to the right (the bent knee). Inhale and return to the start position. Repeat 10 times and switch sides.
Revolved Side Angle
Adopt a lunge position, keeping the left knee on the floor with the right knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Place the left elbow outside the right knee, then bring the palms together, rotating the upper body to the right. Press the palms together as you lengthen through the spine. Twist from the core to encourage the shoulders to turn away from the hips. To add intensity, curl the left toes under, lift the knee and straighten the leg. Hold for 5-10 breaths and switch sides.
Dedicated to fitness and golf, Par72 Yoga can help you achieve your goals, both on and off the links!
For more information on Katherine Roberts’ Yoga for Golfers® methodology, and upcoming clinics and workshops in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, please contact Megan McKenzie, your certified Yoga for Golfers® instructor at Par72Yoga.com.