Yoga and golf aren’t two words you typically say in the same breath. But believe it or not, yoga might actually be the ticket to fewer strokes. Or at least more powerful and precise ones.
Here’s why: Golf is essentially a one-sided sport. But you need balance and strength on both sides of your body to really make the ball fly. That’s why yoga is pro-golfer Natalie Gulbis’ secret weapon. “I was a gymnast so I really appreciate the symmetrical flexibility and strength that yoga gives me,” she told me during a telephone interview.
Yoga also trains you to initiate your gluteal muscles independently, says Katherine Roberts, a yoga instructor and author of Yoga for Golfers. “This helps prevent two problems that are common for women golfers,” she says, “lifting up and out of the spine angle, or swaying and sliding through the swing.”
Gulbis appreciates the focus that her Bikram practice brings. “Having 90 minutes of quiet, when I get to work on my breathing is huge,” she said. “There is such a strong mental component in golf, and yoga really helps me with that.”
“In a sport that we like to say is 90% mental and 10% psychological, learning to breathe and focus is super important,” agrees Roberts, who teachers yoga to pro golfers and Major League Baseball players. “Yoga incorporates the body, the mind, and the breath,” says Roberts, “and that combo is what makes it ideal for this sport.”
Check back later this week for more of my interview and video of some of Gulbis’ go-to poses.
Do you do use yoga or pilates or other type of body work to enhance your golf game? How do you think it helps you?