Ten Week Challenge - Week 1

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Over the next ten weeks we will be rolling out a golf-specific yoga program that will get you and keep you in great golf shape ' body and mind! Based on specific golf biomechanical information, the Yoga for Golfers program will address the physical components often responsible for swing faults. Each week the next series of yoga poses focuses on the following:
 
  • Standing poses that will increase strength, balance and endurance in the lower body.

  • Standing poses that utilize the wall so you have the opportunity to increase the intensity of the pose and support better balance.

  • Core conditioning poses stabilize the body from which all movement is initiated. Core conditioning also supports posture and endurance.

  • Seated poses increasing rotation, shoulder turn and strength in the upper body.

  • Seated poses using props and the wall that will enable you to work into the connective tissue.

  • Learn the basics of meditation techniques which can be applied to visualization techniques increasing your capacity to stay focused.

Each weeks yoga sequence should be added to the previous one so you will build an effective, flexibility and strengthening yoga based program.
 
Here's what you need to get started:

  • Frequency: Practice a minimum of three days a week. If possible five days a week is better. (I practice yoga six days a week)

  • Duration: This program is designed to be approximately 30 minutes. Adherence is more important to success than duration.

  • Equipment: You will need a yoga mat, yoga block and yoga strap. These can be purchased on-line at www.huggermugger.com or at most retail stores such as Target. You will also need three bath size towels.

  • Location: Find a space that is quiet and warm. You only need enough room to accommodate the mat (24 x 64 inches). This is a great program to take with you if you travel. If possible heat up the room so the muscles stay warm. You will be sweating!

And some guidelines to follow:

  • Move slowly in and out of each pose. You should never experience pain when practicing yoga. Slight discomfort is acceptable ' pain in not!

  • Breath deeply inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Note: If breathing becomes to strained, back off the pose so you can control the breath. The controlled breathing is more important than the pose. (more on that subject to follow)

  • Align your body with keen attention. Just as in golf the placement of the feet, posture and awareness is critical in yoga.

  • Each pose requires that you draw the navel inwards, lift the ribcage to lengthen the torso by working the core.

In my instructional DVDs, I offer three levels of intensity, what I refer to as the Par (Basic), Birdie (Intermediate) or Eagle (Advanced) levels. For our purpose we will mostly focus on the Par or Birdie levels.
 
Week 1 - The Warm-up
This week focuses on a warm-up sequence of yoga poses. This sequence should be performed at the beginning of every yoga practice. Some of these yoga poses look familiar and linked together will prepare the body for the yoga practice and a round of golf.
 
Breathing Awareness exercise:
(PAR)

Yoga for Golfers - Breathing Awareness exercise

This yoga exercise will facilitate deep, diaphragmatic, effective breathing. Begin by lying on your back, knees bent, and fingers resting lightly on your ribcage. As you inhale fee the expansion in the ribcage, as you exhale feel the contraction. It is as if the entire mid-section is rising and falling. Try to maintain the inhale for a count of four the exhale for a count of six. Practice this for ten to twenty breaths or until you feel you have awareness and control of your breathing.
 
Spine Warm-up with block:
(PAR)

Yoga for Golfers - Spine Warm-up with block

This pose warms up the spine and abdominals. Bend knees and place block between thighs, feet flat on the floor. Place hands under thighs to support the back. Draw the navel into the spine, pressing the abdominals against the spine, tucking the chin in. Slowly roll back wards, squeezing the block as tightly as possible. Go to the point of muscle fatigue and roll back up. Exhale as you roll down, inhale as you roll back up. Focus on the abdominal strength. Repeat ten times.
 
Cow-Cat pose:
(PAR)

Yoga for Golfers - Cow pose

On all fours, place the hands, fingers spread wide, directly under the shoulders, knees directly under the hips.
 
Yoga for Golfers - Cat pose

Inhale, draw the navel towards the spine, press the spine towards the ceiling, tucking the chin into the chest.
 
Exhale, press the spine towards the floor, shoulders moving away from the ears, lifting the head slightly. Continue for ten repetitions.
 
Modified Downward Facing Dog pose:
(PAR)

Yoga for Golfers - Modified Downward Facing Dog

On your knees, place your hands at the top and as wide as the mat. Spead your fingers wide, palms flat. Lift the buttocks away from the heels and feel the stretch in the shoulders and low back. Hold for ten breaths.
 
Downward Facing Dog pose:
(BIRDIE)
Yoga for Golfers - Downward Facing Dog

From the modified dog pose, lift the hips up, pressing the mat away from you and feeling the stretch in the shoulders and hamstrings. Try to move the heels towards the floor and straighten the legs (EAGLE). If necessary, bend the knees to relieve the stress on the hamstrings. Feet are slightly less than hip width apart. Allow the next to relax, eyes gaze towards the nave. Hold for five to ten breaths.
 
Modified Cobra pose:
(PAR)

Yoga for Golfers - Modified Cobra

On your belly, squeeze the legs together, engage the buttocks, draw the navel towards the spine and lift the chest off the floor. Hands are placed next to the chest, elbows tucked in next to the body. Hold for ten breaths.
 
Upward Facing Dog pose:
(BIRDIE / EAGLE)

Yoga for Golfers - Upward Facing Dog

Keeping the hands and top of the feet on the floor, lift the body up. Keep the lower body very active ' quads and gluts engaged. Roll the shoulders back and chest forward. Hold for five breaths.
 
Next week we will move into a series of standing poses. Feel free to e-mail me with any question at info@yogaforgolfers.com.
 
As my gift to you for your new commitment to Yoga for Golfers I am offering a 25% discount off all the instructional DVDs to TheGolfChannel.com readers. Go to my website - - www.yogaforgolfers.com. Select the product and enter PR25 in the purchase code and receive the discount. Enjoy!
 

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 info@yogaforgolfers.com.