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A Yogini Learns to Golf

Aug 1, 2012 // by admin // Blog, golf, Yoga // No Comments

My golf clubs... I've had them for 7 years and happy to be playing with them again (after a 5 year break)

About two months ago, I decided it was time for me to get my golf clubs out of my apartment and start using them again. A little history… I got my first set of golf clubs back in 2003 from my dad after talking for a while about how I wanted to learn how to golf. At that time, I took some golf lessons and within two years had replaced the generic clubs I had with the women’s club set you see here. After nearly a year or so of lessons and playing many a 9-hole round, I had never managed to get consistency in my swing and quite frankly, i was never really good, so I put the clubs away for a while – five years to be specific.

So, I didn’t have any expectations when I picked up my clubs a month ago to start some full swing lessons. And I think I managed to come back to my clubs in a very different place than I had been before. The first lesson and the one that has stuck so well with me was “initiate the swing from the torso”. It was the first instruction and the one that helped me to begin to get consistency in my golf swing. And it brought me back to my yoga practice in a variety of ways.

Why I love golfing at East Potomac Park... it's cool being able to see and aim at the monuments while playing.

 

I started to think about my golf swing as a twist in my yoga practice. I remember how I tell my students to initiate twists from the torso, not the arms or the shoulders or the neck, but the midsection. It is something I always try to remember when I twist and it’s critical to getting a consistent motion when swinging a golf club.

Proper initiation of a twist wasn’t the only thing that connected to my yoga practice. Over the last few months, I’ve been spending time in my physical practice working on inversions and arm balances. I’ve been building strength and connecting to my core. As much as those poses are a function of arm strength, they are also a function of core and pelvic floor engagement or the bandhas – uddiyana and mula, to be specific. As I’ve been practicing my swing these last few weeks, I’ve been connecting even more with these bandhas. Drawing up on the pelvic floor and pulling my navel in and up has helped me find stability in my stance and establish a stable foundation. It’s helped me to connect to my swing in a way that I’d never been able to connect before.

top scorecard from when i played the course 6 or so years ago (62 strokes); bottom scorecard from my round on 7/21/2012 (41 strokes)

Initiating the twist and connecting to the bandhas are only the tip of the iceberg. I’ve also found myself reconnecting with my breath each time I get ready to swing the club. One of the fundamental elements of a vinyasa practice, of any yoga practice, is the linking of breath with movement. As I set up behind the ball, I take a couple deep breaths. And just as I would float my feet forward or turn my world upside down on an inhale, I initiate the movement of the club on the inhale. Connecting to my breath gives me time to move back into the present moment and clear my head. I move away from thinking about the result and towards the journey. I get out of my head.

I still have a long journey ahead to develop consistency in my swing and there will be lots of practice time on that journey. Continuing to apply these fundamentals from my asana practice during that practice time, though, will go a long way. I’m looking forward to continuing on this journey and seeing how I can progress along the way. Who knows what will happen, but no matter what, I intend to enjoy the journey.