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Whether you’re looking to shoot under par on your favorite course or just make your swing feel a little bit better, the key to improving your golf game goes beyond more sessions with a pro. Yoga for golfers can help you build the strength and stability you need to play your best round yet (yes, really).
Yoga for golfers is hardly a new concept. Phil Mickelson (the winner of six major championships on the PGA tour) practices yoga. So does U.S. Open Winner Michelle Wie West. Even if you’re not attempting to go pro, you can certainly pick up some advice from the greats of the game—yoga helps your golf game.
See also: Yoga for Athletes
How yoga can help your golf game
As many golfers know, your swing determines the bulk of your game. By loosening up your shoulders, core, and upper body—and building strength—through yoga you’ll be able to have a more seamless golf swing.
The best yoga practices for golfers also includes poses focused on your lower body. Your stance, hip rotation, and upper leg strength are all critical components to your swing. The science agrees. In a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, researchers found that six weeks of yoga significantly bettered the pelvic rotation of golfers.
So if you’re a golfer interested in trying yoga, these seven poses will work to build strength and mobility in your shoulders, core, legs—and elevate your golf game.
7 yoga poses for golfers
The proper rotation of your shoulders is essential for any good golf swing. Stiff shoulders can hinder your rotation, leading to poor form and potential injury. If you’re suffering from tight or sore shoulders, open them up in Downward-Facing Dog. This pose works to open—and strengthen—your shoulders in flexion.
Yoga teacher Natasha Rizopoulous reminds students not to put the weight in their hands, wrists or shoulders in this pose. Instead, the weight should rest in your legs. As you extend your forearms away from the ground, you’ll be able to stabilize your shoulders as you move into the pose.
To open up and stretch your entire upper body, try Fish Pose. This restorative pose improves your overall posture, stretches the muscles of your upper back—and opens your deep hip flexors. If you’re a beginner yogi, try the pose with a folded blanket under your back.
If you experience stress on your neck in this posture, yoga teacher Cyndi Lee recommends placing two blocks (on their longer, narrow edges) under your head and your shoulder blades. This modification will reduce strain—and prevent you from over-stretching your neck.
In order to properly rotate for your swing, you need a strong core. Mobility and stability in your swing stems from a strong core. Instead of spending hours doing crunches or planks or bicycle crunches (pick your ab villian of choice), try Boat Pose. This pose focuses on building balance and strength throughout your entire core.
In addition to firing up your core, this posture works to strengthen your thighs—giving your legs a bonus workout. As your core stability increases, you’ll see your swing improve, as well.
Struggling with the full version of Boat Pose? Try these variations.
Take the strain off your spine, ease back pain, and develop upper body mobility with Cat Pose. You’ll be able to give your upper body some much-deserved relief—and alleviate the pain of all of those swings.
Pair this pose with Bitilasana (Cow Pose) to increase mobility through your spine and give your back a release.
If you spend a ton of time out on the green, your lower body may be feeling a little sore. This posture will stretch your thighs, hips, and groin—ensuring that you’ll be able to properly rotate through all of your swings. Plus, this posture opens your chest and helps release tension throughout your upper body.
Yoga teacher Neeti Narula advises students to notice the connection of your feet on the ground in this pose. Additionally, she reminds students to move your pubic bone slightly forward—and lift the sides of your body up.
This pose stretches your entire body. In addition to stretching your core, chest, shoulders, hip flexors and quadriceps, this posture strengthens your back muscles, thighs, and glutes. It’s a great all-around posture to add to your practice.
If you feel pain or uneasiness in this pose, try adding some props. Stick a rolled-up blanket under your thighs for some additional support in your lower body or use a strap to extend your reach to your ankles.
For a list of all variations for this pose, check out: The Complete Guide to Bow Pose.
Wrists tired from constant gripping? Offer them some relief with Upward Plank Pose. This pose strengthens your arms, wrists, and your legs. If your day hovering over a golf club, this is the posture for you. Yoga teacher Abbie Mood says this pose can offer shoulder and neck pain relief.
Mood reminds students to engage (and activate) your shoulders while in this pose by pressing your shoulder blades against your back torso to support the lift of your chest.