Can You Improve Your Golf With Yoga?

The following review of  Ashok Wahi’s “The Missing Peace” is by guest blogger, Nancy Boyle.
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Nancy Boyle, Yoga InstructorAs an avid golfer I have taken many paths searching for ways to improve my golf game.  I have taken private and group lessons, gone to the practice range for hours, spent hundreds of dollars on equipment that promises to get me another 10 or 20 yards of distance.  I have bought laser  equipment and GPS programs for my iPhone that tell me exactly how far I  must hit my ball to get it to the green or keep it out of a hazard. Each of these have had a positive impact on my golf game. But the best practice I have found for myself to improve my game is finding peace of mind –  getting that gray matter between my ears to quiet down and focus.  I have found this peace of mind through the practice of yoga.

I have been practicing yoga for many years whenever I have had the time and  access to a class.  It was about five years ago that I began to practice in earnest.  I began to seek out yoga classes and made the practice of yoga an integral part of my life. I have become certified to teach children’s yoga and am currently working towards my certification to teach adult yoga.  Since I started practicing yoga on a consistent basis my handicap has come down and stayed down.

Shortly after I intensified my practice I stumbled upon a book called Improve Your Golf With Yoga Techniques (Missing Peace).  Suddenly it made sense to incorporate my yoga practice into my plans to improve my golf game.  The book teaches,  how, through a series of strengthening, flexibility, breathing and meditative exercises, yoga brings focus to the game of golf.

The book offers the story of a conversation overheard at a dinner when someone was asked “How often to you play golf?”  “Maybe three or four times a week,” came the replay.  The response was, “So, what do you do to relax?”

Be honest – are you always relaxed on the golf course?

Golf is one of the most challenging sports to master.  Without learning techniques for mastering the psyche of the game –  learning to enjoy the game without stress, disappointment or frustration is nearly impossible.  When I watch professional golfers they seem to be so relaxed in their swing.  The pros tell us that to get more distance we must get the tension out of our muscles (and minds).  Tension robs us of a rhythmic and effective golf swing.  Yoga teaches us to connect mind, body and spirit.  How to trust our muscle memory through visualization and relaxation and move tension from our minds and muscles before we swing the club.

Wahi points out that  ‘Common mental “traps” include anxiety or nervousness on the course, loss of focus, and the inability to separate oneself emotionally from the progress of the game.”  Sound familiar? Do you ever finding yourself believing a bad hole or even just that one bad shot has just ruined your entire round?  Even if you are only on the third hole and the first two were decent scores?  Yoga practice helps develop the acceptance of non-perfection and comfort in our daily level of play.

Early Morning Yoga on the BeachThe techniques taught in “The Missing Peace” addresses each of the physical and mental challenges that are involved in playing the game of golf.  The practice of yoga focuses on alignment, strength, balance and flexibility.  In addition, the mind-body emphasis in yoga practice allows a golfer to acquire mental discipline needed for relaxed, healthy and enjoyable play.  Learning to calm down with deep breathing and lessen anxiety before pre- round or pre-shot routines.  Most importantly from my perspective, the practice of yoga develops acceptance of non-perfection and comfort with an individual golfer’s daily level of play.

Breathing is a major branch of the practice of yoga.  The word “pranayama means, “to embody or house the life force energy”, “breath extension” or “breath control.”  Yoga emphasises deep diaphragmatic breathing.  Complete breathing improves the functioning of the lungs and provides  nourishment to the entire body with oxygen.  Poor oxygenation can result in decreased concentration and mental clarity.

Along with breath work the book teaches Asanas (poses) that help with flexibility, balance, and strength.  Using yoga as a way to warm up before practicing or playing can get your body ready to swing the club and help avoid injury.

For more information about Yoga to improve your golf game contact Nancy Boyle, at nrboyle@verizon.net.   Available for private or group lessons.

Nancy Boyle

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Do you practice yoga as part of your golf fitness routine? Add your comment below.

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