- What is it?
- Should you be doing it?
- How much should you be doing?
Yoga is an ancient system of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that have been passed down from teacher to student and focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body.
For the purpose of this article, I am just going to address the physical branch of yoga. The physical part is made up of postures or asanas. Each one has specific benefits and when linked together, as in a Vinyasa style, they can create a flow from one position to another.
- Poses strengthen and tone the legs, as well as make the hips, spine, and shoulders more flexible.
- Improves posture.
- Some classes include deep breathing mechanics and meditation.
Is Yoga Good For Golfers?
In a word, yes. And here’s why….
- The vast majority of golfers I’ve worked with since getting TPI certified in 2010 have been mature males who work in a seated environment and want to enjoy golf without getting injured.
- The problem they all share is they are TIGHT! They can’t move the way they need to – to play golf the way they want to.
“Brett has done a phenomenal job of improving my “pliability” – that is the intersection of flexibility and mobility for my golf game.” __ Jim Forbes
In order to play golf efficiently, meaning – you are able to get it posture, stay in posture, and execute a shot that is repeatable while minimizing your risk of injury you are going to need ‘pliability’.
“The average amateur golfer is not physically capable of performing the required body movements that are involved in a mechanically correct golf swing.” __Michael Boyle, TPI Advisor
But wait, there’s more…..
Another benefit of yoga is that it improves tissue quality and tissue length. In other words, yoga (and especially hot yoga) helps to create elasticity in the tissue known as fascia, and it does that by stretching fascia and muscle across multiple joints and multiple segments at the same time.
“Muscles are the engine of movement, fascia is the medium of movement.” “Think of fascia as the inner skin of the body”-says Guy Voyer, World Renowned Osteopath. “Fascia is the 3D cobweb that holds everything together”-Thomas Myers.
Since yoga is performed barefoot, it helps to strengthen the feet in a way you won’t get in any other exercise program other than a martial arts class. Despite what most golfers think, the golf swing doesn’t start in the hands, it starts in the feet. Whatever movement you are creating with the arms and club will be reflected by the pressure the feet apply to the ground first. This is what I learned in the Body-Track Ground Mechanics course I took back in 2018!
And let’s not forget balance. Balance is a key component of the golf swing. As you will see from the video above, the only time you have a 50/50 pressure split is at the address, after that you are essentially balancing on one leg the rest of the time and you’re doing it with speed. That is what’s known as dynamic balance.
Most of yoga is done on your feet and most of that is done in asymmetrical stance positions. Moving from position to position requires dynamic balance.
My Yoga Journey
I had never taken a yoga class (nor did I have any intention to) until I became certified as a C.H.E.K Holistic Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach Level 2 around 2008.
As a break from all the academic classroom learning, we would pause to learn a form of parasympathetic exercise. By parasympathetic, I mean exercise that promotes the rest and digest side of your nervous system. On day 2 we had a guest instructor Joschi Schwarz from Joschi Yoga. I was immediately humbled by how challenging it was for someone who had spent more than 2 decades in a gym and had just finished running a marathon. I was hooked.
After a few years at Joschi, I started taking classes at Pure Yoga on the Upper East Side, down the block from where I was living. While training there I met an instructor named Marco Rojas. Marco was in a class by himself and would begin to start teaching at the newly built Pure Yoga West. Marco was a nomad and found himself moving from studio to studio throughout the city and as a devotee, I would follow him (this is a common practice in NYC). For a while prior to the pandemic, I was taking classes with Marco at Ishta Yoga, which was on E. 12th St.
Brett’s Bottom Line:
I enjoy yoga! I think it’s a great way to get your stretch on. I have no problem if you want to add some yoga into your golf fitness journey. It can only help. BUT, it doesn’t replace a golf-specific program based on your individual needs and limitations that are found in your TPI Level 1 movement screen. And as much as yoga can do for you in terms of flexibility, mobility, and balance, it doesn’t involve strength, speed, and power as it relates to rotational power sports like golf.
See you on the mat.