Work It Out: 9 yoga postures for a better golf game | SummitDaily.com

Work It Out: 9 yoga postures for a better golf game

Pinna Gallant
Special to the Daily

When you think of physically demanding sports, golf probably isn't the first that immediately comes to mind. However, "golf is a much more active sport than people give it credit for," according to Robbins Manley, assistant golf professional at Breckenridge Golf Club.

Even for weekend hackers, golf requires balance, flexibility and strength. "Balance the most important and most underrated," said Bud Gazaway, head golf pro at the Raven Golf Club at Three Peaks.

If you want to improve your game, honing in on these areas with a few simple yoga postures will help you maintain proper technique, as well as avoid common golf-related aches and pains.

Crescent Moon

Crescent Moon targets the thighs and hip flexors. If you find kneeling uncomfortable, try putting a folded blanket or towel under the back knee.

Start with your hands and knees on the floor, hips directly over the knees.

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Bring your right foot between your hands.

Bring your hands to the thigh of your front leg and drop your shoulders away from your ears.

Let your hips sink down and forward until you feel a stretch through the back thigh and hip. Your knee can bend out in front of your ankle, but it shouldn't go right or left.

Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Relax and repeat on opposite side.

Crescent Moon with a twist

Using your knee as leverage keeps the hips facing forward as you open your lower and middle back in this twist. Remember: never force a twist. Only twist as far as you can comfortably go while still maintaining slow and steady breath.

From Crescent Moon:

Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee.

Extend your right arm back behind you, with the thumb facing the ceiling. Keep your right hand as high as your shoulder.

Gently press your left hand against the right knee to intensify the twist.

Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Relax and repeat on opposite side.

One-legged Mountain with a twist

This posture is similar to Crescent Moon with a twist, but comes with the added challenge of balance on a single foot.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and try to engage all sides of your left thigh: inner, outer, front, back, even into the glute.

Pull your navel to your spine.

Lift your right knee to be as high as your hip.

Flex your right foot.

Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee.

Extend your right arm back behind you, with the thumb facing the ceiling. Keep your right hand as high as your shoulder.

Pull the right knee forward as the right thumb reaches back.

Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Relax and repeat on opposite side.

Tree with a twist

Tree is one of my favorite postures for balance. Adding the twist will improve your flexibility and coordination as well.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart.

Cross your arms over your chest (like a mummy) and hold a golf club in both hands. Ensure the club is parallel to the floor.

Try to engage all sides of your right thigh: inner, outer, front, back, even into the glute.

Pull your navel to your spine.

Lift your left foot to your right inner ankle, calf or thigh. Avoid pressing your foot against your knee.

Slowly twist to the right, keeping the golf club parallel to the floor at all times.

Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Relax and repeat on opposite side.

Floating cat and cow

These postures are traditionally practiced with knees on the ground. To strengthen the thighs while also opening the spine, try hovering the shins above the floor. If hovering the shins detracts from the stretch in the spine, let your knees rest on the floor under your hips.

Kneel on the floor, with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips.

Curl your toes under and lift your knees up until shins are parallel with the floor.

Tuck your tailbone, press your spine to the ceiling and press your chin to your chest for cat pose.

Hold for 3-5 breaths.

Lift your tailbone, press your stomach toward the floor and lift your chin for cow pose.

Hold for 3-5 breaths. If knees are lifted, release knees to the floor.

Butterfly

Releasing tension in the low back is challenging because most low-back stretches also affect the hamstrings, which are often tighter than the low back. Butterfly pose is great for the low back because it does not affect the hamstrings. Try this posture seated on a folded blanket or on a cushion to make it more accessible and deepen the inner thigh and low-back stretch.

Sit on the floor and press the soles of your feet together so that your legs make a diamond shape.

Hold onto your feet or shins and fold forward from the hips.

Reach your heart forward and let your knees drop down toward the floor.

Hold for 10 breaths.

Core with a block

Core strength is essential for balance and coordination, so if balance is a challenge for you, consider adding more core to your workout. This posture in particular will target muscles needed for twists.

Lie on your back, with your legs extended on the floor.

Bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle so that it stacks directly over your right hip, with the shin parallel to the floor. Flex both feet.

Place the block against your right thigh and press your left elbow against the block.

Interlace your hands behind your head and squeeze the block between your elbow and your thigh. (For an additional challenge, lift the left leg a few inches off the floor.)

Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Relax and repeat on opposite side.

Core resistance

This posture looks simple, but try holding it for 60 seconds — you'll feel the burn.

Lie on your back, with legs extended on the floor.

Bend both knees at a 90-degree angle so that both knees stack directly over your hips, with shins parallel to the floor. Flex both feet.

Press your hands into your thighs while you resist by pressing the thighs into your hands.

Relax your head and shoulders.

Hold for 60 seconds.

Relax and repeat.

Pinna Gallant is the owner of Peak Yoga, Dillon's only dedicated yoga studio. Designed to challenge both the body and the mind, Peak Yoga classes build muscular strength, physical endurance and emotional resilience.