Focus From the Inside Out

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Other than the obvious physical benefits of yoga such as flexibility, strength, balance and core conditioning, the mental benefits are remarkable.
 
I have a saying, Golf is 90% mental and 10% psychological.
 
In the ancient text of yoga it states that the objective of yoga is the cessation of fluctuation of the mind. The physical practice is intended to prepare the body to sit comfortably for meditation. Meditation simply means the ability to sit still, quiet the mind while remaining awake.
 
The ability to quiet the mind is a powerful tool to manage stress, increase concentration, enhance visualization and calm the nervous system ' all components essential for good golf. Professional athletes use meditation to calm the mind so they can visualize their bodies performing to their maximum potential. Most well known is Phil Jackson, famous basketball coach, who considers meditation as important as fitness training for his players.
 
All physical activity begins with the brain. When you practice visualization you are telling the brain to prepare the body for movement. As golfers we have a tendency towards negative, self-loathing inner dialogue. When you begin to clear the mind of negative self talk, as if wiping the chalk board clean, you have the capacity to replace non-working thoughts with positive imagery.
 
Meditation as well as golf teaches the yoga concept of acceptance. Some rounds you go out to play and you are on fire, other days you wonder where your game went. Accepting how you play on any given day does not mean you are apathetic, (I am in NO way suggesting that you become a automaton, you want passion and the desire to play your best) it means you can accept the shot, leave it behind and begin a new on the next tee box.
 
Katherine Roberts

 
Here are a few guidelines for beginning a practice of sitting or meditation. It is important that your spine be straight so sit in a chair or place a few towels under you buttocks (sitting on towels raises your hips higher than your knees and makes it more comfortable to sit) with your back against the wall. If you have back pain, lie on your back, placing rolled up towels under your knees for back support.
  • Breathe deeply through the nose.

  • Keep the jaw, tongue and shoulders relaxed.

  • Focus on the rise and fall of the diaphragm as you inhale and exhale.

  • Begin to take your focus to the area behind the eyes, moving the focus to the center of the head.
Try to sit for five minutes in the morning, immediately after you wake up, before coffee and checking e-mails. At night sit again for five minutes. (You will have a restful sleep).
 
After a week increase the time to ten minutes. My suggestion is that when you begin this process, sit and focus on your breathing. As you begin to increase the length of time you sit, begin the process of visualization. Be very clear and specific in your mind ' see yourself in every detail of the golf swing, from setting your stance through the entire swing plane to the follow through. In your mind see yourself calm, steady, powerful and focused as you sink putt after putt.
 
Please feel free to e-mail me with questions. Meditation is a simple process, no mantras needed, just an open mind. You will see the benefits integrated into your life, on and off the course.
 
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    Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers, has over 20 years of experience in fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at Katherine@YogaForGolfers.com or visit www.YogaForGolfers.com.