Beginners' Yoga Sequences

Use Yoga to Improve Your Golf Game

Improve your golf swing with these targeted poses for core strength and upper-back mobility.

A powerful and accurate golf swing needs strong core muscles and good upper-back mobility. These before-and-after sequences include spinal rotations and poses to build core stability to help you play optimally and reduce the risk of common golfing injuries—often involving knee, shoulder, and back pain.

Warm-Up Sequence 

Poses that involve spinal rotations are especially important for golf players, to help correct any imbalance resulting from repeatedly rotating in one direction. These six poses gradually warm up your spine, wrists, and shoulders.

Wrist Rotations

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1. Stand or sit comfortably and reach your arms out in front of you with your fingers spread wide. 2. Bend your wrists as if you are trying to touch your elbows with your fingers. 3. Rotate your hands outwards by moving your hand as far as you can in the direction of your little finger. Keep rotating to extend your wrist back to point your fingers towards the sky and continue rotating, letting the thumb lead. 4. Repeat five times, then change direction to rotate five times in the opposite direction, making sure you rotate only from the wrist and not the elbow.

See also Learn How to Protect Your Wrists in Your Practice

Table-top Twists

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1. Begin on all fours with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees. 2. Take the weight onto your left hand and bring your right fingers to rest just behind your right ear. 3. Inhale. Rotate your chest open, bringing your right elbow to point towards the sky. 4. Exhale. Rotate your chest back downwards, bringing your right elbow to point towards your left arm. 5. Practice the whole sequence 10 times, then repeat on the other side.

See also Space Odyssey to the Side Body

Half Splits

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1. Start in a Low Lunge with your right foot forwards. Place your hands either side of your foot and slowly pull back on your hips as you straighten your right leg as much as you can until your hips are stacked over your left knee. (You might need to walk your hands back and wiggle your right heel forwards a little too.) 2. Flex your right foot and square your hips so they are even. 3. With each inhale lengthen your spine and as you exhale, fold forwards over your right leg. 4. Hold for 10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.

See also 1 Pose, 4 Ways: Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)

Twisted Half Splits

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1. Begin in Half Splits with your right foot forwards. Place your left hand underneath your left shoulder and rotate towards your right leg, stretching your right hand to the sky. 2. As you inhale, lengthen from fingertip to fingertip; as you exhale, rotate from your waist to deepen the twist. 3. Hold for 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

See also Let’s Twist Again

Twisted Side Angle

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1. Stand with your feet together and step your left foot backwards to drop your left knee to rest on the floor. 2. With both knees at right angles, bring your palms together with your thumbs in line with your breastbone and then rotate to bring your left elbow over your right knee. 3. Keep twisting to bring your breastbone up to meet your thumbs and point your right elbow towards the sky. 4. Push back into your left heel to straighten your back leg. Hold for 10 breaths and then repeat poses 3-5 on the other side.

See also Revolved Side Angle Pose

Shoulder Rotations

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1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and your core slightly braced to give you stability. 2. Making sure your hips stay facing forwards, rotate your left shoulder backwards, making the biggest, smoothest circle you can. You might feel it (and hear it!) clunk if you are new to this movement, but there should be no pain. Make five rotations altogether. 3. Push down gently on your left shoulder with your right hand and make five more backward rotations. 4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 using your right shoulder. 5 Repeat steps 2 to 4, this time rotating each shoulder forwards instead of backwards, then repeat on the other side.

See also 6 Poses to Soothe and Strengthen Your Shoulders

Cooldown Sequence

These six seated and floor poses will help you stretch out your wrists and decompress your spine and hips post-game.

Wrist Dance

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1. Begin on your hands and knees. Take your weight in your left hand and turn your right hand over so the back of your hand is on the ground. 2. If this feels okay, do the same with the left hand so both of the backs of your hand are on the ground in a Wrist Extensor Stretch. Hold for 5–10 breaths, gently rocking back and forth if it feels like a good stretch. 3. Flip your hands back so both palms are on the mat. 4. Rotate your right hand to the right so your fingers are now facing you with your palm still on the mat. Do the same with your left hand. 5. Hold for 10 breaths, softly bending the elbows to increase the stretch in the front of your forearms, if you like, in a Wrist Flexion Stretch. 6. Bring your hands back so your fingers are facing forwards and then dance your hands around for a few breaths to explore the poses you’ve just practiced and create more movement in your wrists.

See also Next-Level Wrist Protection Tricks

Seated Twist

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1. Begin in a seated, cross-legged position and as you inhale, reach both arms to the sky. 2. On an exhale, rotate to your right to bring your left hand to your right knee and your right hand down behind you. 3. Focus on lengthening your spine as you inhale and increasing the twist as you exhale. 4. Hold for 10 breaths, then come back to center on an inhale and repeat on the other side.

See also An Accessible Yoga Practice You Can Do in a Chair

Seated Side Bend

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1. Begin in a cross-legged seated position and on an inhale reach your arms to the sky. 2. As you exhale bend sideways to your right to bringyour right hand to the floor. Reach your left arm up and overhead. 3. On each inhale, lengthen your spine, and on each exhale, see if you can move deeper into the pose to increase the stretch in the left side of your body without collapsing the right side. 4. Hold for 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

See also 4 Ways to Satisfy Your Urge to Side Bend

Half Moon

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1. Begin in Upward Salute. On an exhalation, lean towards your right to create an even side bend along your spine. 2. Hold for 10 breaths, come back to center on an inhalation, then repeat on the other side.

See also Stand Taller With These 9 Side Body Stretches

Wall Pigeon

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1. Sit sideways against a wall and swing your legs around so you are lying on your back with your legs up against the wall. 2. Bend your knees and adjust how far you are away from the wall until your shins are parallel to the floor and your knees are bent at right angles. 3. Lift your right foot off the wall and bring it across your left knee. Flex your right foot and gently push your right knee away from you, being careful to move from the hip and not the knee. 4. Hold for 2 minutes and then switch sides.

See also 8 Ways (Besides Handstand) to Use a Wall In Your Yoga Practice

Reclining Twist

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1. Lie on your back and hug your right knee into your chest. 2. Take hold of the outside of your right knee with your left hand and bring your right leg across your body. 3. Keeping both shoulder blades on the floor, stretch your right arm out to the side and look straight up or over your right shoulder. 4. Hold this pose for 2 minutes, then repeat on the other side.

See also Looking for a Refresh? Try a Reclining Twist

See also Yoga for Golfers

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Excerpted from Stay Young With Yoga by Nicola Jane Hobbs, Published by Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020, Text copyright © Nicola Jane Hobbs, 2020, Original photography © Glen Burrows, 2020