Yoga for Golfers
Throwing Away Your Goals
Focus is the last word you would use when observing clichéd images of the frustrated golfer: heaving golf clubs, making vehement self-incriminatory remarks, swearing, and throwing temper tantrums that would rival those of a 2-year-old. These golfers are outcome-focused, under self-imposed pressure to meet their goals, whether that's hitting a bogey, a par, a birdie, or striving to lower their handicap. They are intensely attached to the game and their results. By throwing your goals off the fairway and practicing being present in the process, you can free yourself of stress, and ironically, play a better golf game.
Legend speaks of a group of Zen monks who practice archery for hours on end attempting to master the physical components of the game. Once they achieve this mastery, they toss away their bows and arrows. They're not attached to the game. They're not attached to winning or achieving a particular score. They use sport merely as a tool for reaching a state of consciousness.
Before you throw out your golf clubs, call on your yoga practice to help you connect with the body and breath, and thus, the various sensations that occur at each moment. Observe your breath to invite feelings of nonattachment, nonjudgment, and presence. Pay attention to physical sensations, pain and stiffness, or ease of movement, using the body like a ground wire for the mind.
By connecting to the subtleties of breath, you clear the conscious mind. Light shines on your path, and you're able to see and act with clarity. Without any expectation of outcome, all natural resources can flow forth from the storage house of the subconscious and play through the body like wind through a flute.
The Physical Game
In order to reach the mental peak of your game, you need the instrument of your body to be well tuned.
A strong, stable body that is fluid and flexible creates the foundation for a healthy, injury-free athlete. Consider a lone tree whipping in the winds of a hurricane. A brittle, stiff tree will crack and fall, while a fluid, flexible tree will bend and lean, ultimately withstanding the fiercest of storms.
For many, flexibility, or fluidity, may be more difficult to achieve than strength and stability. Internal and external stressors can block energy in the body, limiting range of motion and causing your body structure to be off center. An off-kilter stance may manifest in the golfer as a stroke that's off by a fraction of an inch. Power, balance, and weight transfer all depend on fluidity in the body.
Due to the fact that golfers swing from one side of the body, there is asymmetry inherent in the sport. Overtraining and repetitive motion manifests as larger muscles on one side of a golfer's body; specifically, the shoulders, biceps, forearms, and upper back will be more developed on a golfer's dominant side. These stronger muscles are also tighter, while the weaker muscles are more flexible. The tight muscles, in turn, restrict the free movement of surrounding muscles, ultimately leading to limited range of motion.