Connecting Breathing and Movement
This week we will introduce a series of poses called Sun Salutations. The literally translation is saluting the sun because these postures are traditionally practiced in the morning. This is a fundamental sequence of yoga postures that is the foundation of Hatha yoga ' the style of yoga from which most western styles originate.
The Sun Salutations also warm up the muscles, increase cardiovascular capacity, bringing awareness to the breath and burn some calories in the process. It is intended to be a continuous movement, from one pose to the next.
Practicing Sun Salutations will help you heat the body and prepare you for the explosive nature of the golf swing. You will learn keen breathing awareness as we hold each pose for three long, deep and focused yoga breaths.
Physically these poses address every aspect of the body - feet, calves, quads, hamstrings, hands and wrists, the entire spine, chest and core (both abdominals and back muscles).
Mentally this practice requires awareness of the position of the body, staying focused (I recommend you look about three feet in front of the mat when the head is lifted). Place a golf ball in this location and stare at the ball. Remember to stay in the moment ' aware of your body alignment, muscle action and breath. Remain completely focused on the present pose. As if on the golf course, not worrying about the last double bogey or the next difficult green.
These photos suggest the Birdie and Eagle levels of the sequence. Where necessary I have included photos of Par level modifications. Here are a few tips:
- Bend your knees at anytime, protecting tight hamstrings and low back.
- Keep the muscles engaged ' flexed and active at all times.
- Breathe deeply inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
- During the plank or push-up phase of the sequence drop to your knees if you feel pressure in the low back. As we perform five push ups keep your hands directly under your shoulders and keep the arms pressed against the body. (Imagine how a cricket looks)
- Remember to continue to draw the navel towards the spine throughout the postures. This is to bring awareness to the core of the body and to protect the back.
Now, let's get started!
Stand with the feet hip width apart, lifting in the arches and feeling as if you are attached to the ground. Inhale, lifting the arms above the head.
Inhale stepping the right foot back. Be sure the left knee is at a 90 degree angle.
Inhale and lower the body, exhale and lift up. Try to do five push ups.
PAR level - If the knees are on the floor bring the chest forward as you lower down.
Bring the body to an Upward facing dog position with the arms straight, chest forward and shoulders back.
PAR level or ANYONE SUFFERING FROM BACK PAINLower the body down, lifting the chest slightly off the floor. NOTE: the legs are active, buttocks are tight, tailbone presses down towards the floor.
Exhale pressing the hips towards the back of the room, coming into Downward Facing Dog pose.
PAR level - bend the knees and gently press your heels towards the floor. NOTE: Spread the fingers wide, pressing the entire palm into the floor. Roll the shoulders away from the ears, not scrunching in the neck. Allow the head to hand down as the eyes gaze towards the feet.
Inhale, stepping both feet to the front of the mat and folding forward.
Inhale and rise up to standing, arms stretched high over the head. Exhale, lowering the arms by your side.
Repeat three to five times.
Once you get accustomed to this sequence of poses you will flow through them and get a great warm up for your upcoming weekly addition of yoga poses and for your golf game.
Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers, has 20 years of experience in fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.