Golf is a game to teach you about the messages from within, about the subtle voices of the body-mind. And once you understand them you can more clearly see your hamartia, the ways in which your approach to the game reflects your entire life. No where does a man go so naked.
When we become aware of the importance of the connection between the mind and body in the game of golf we become more aware of ourselves as well as in other players how our attitudes on the course reflect our attitudes off the course. We can learn a lot about humans by watching behavior on the golf course. More than likely that behavior carries over into life situations. Listening to the mind and paying attention and listening to the needs of the body and heeding those needs are necessities for golf and everyday life.
Last week we focused on meditation and learned how to quiet the mind and visualize your desired outcome on the golf course. The content leaned toward the mind aspect of the game (easy pose) and touched on the body/mind connection with the relaxation or corpse pose. The content for this week will focus mainly on restoring and re-energizing the body along with a connection to the mind. Post round stretching helps the muscle and skeletal systems recover from the taxing physical effects of golf, reduces the onset of soreness, and lowers the risk of injury. The term restorative refers to the bodys ability to restore itself to its original, healthy condition.
Most golfers do not realize the need to stretch upon completion of a round of golf. Step into an air- conditioned room after a hot round of golf and sit long enough for a drink and chat time with your partners. Then try to get up and walk without hesitation. Most of us feel stiff upon arising and it takes a few steps before we loosen up. Even if you do not stop for a drink and drive straight home you may feel stiffness set in upon arrival at home. Post round restorative poses will reduce fatigue and alleviate stiffness.
All restorative or post round poses should be practiced at a moderate level of intensity. Close your eyes, play soft, soothing music if possible, and relax. When the mind and body are relaxed, one is open to conscious as well as subliminal or unconscious thoughts. As we discussed meditation last week, we learned that visualization plays a key role in predicting the desired outcome. Take this time to practice visualizing your body flexible and strong, with you mind in the zone with your optimum golf-swing pattern while relaxing into the poses.
You will need a yoga mat, 2 yoga blocks or four large towels, and a chair or wall.
Golf benefits of the post round restorative poses:
Reduces fatigue, alleviates stiffness and re-energizes.
Quiets the mind and enables visualizations of desired outcomes.
Helps the bodys ability to restore itself to its original healthy condition.
Lets get started! This post round restorative sequence is taken from my book, Yoga for Golfers: A Unique Mind-Body Approach to Golf Fitness.
Twist Supported by Blankets Under the Knees
Lie on your back with the arms perpendicular to the body. Bend the knees and bring the heels close to the buttocks. Allow the knees to fall to the left, resting the knees on two to three rolled-up towels. Keep the right shoulder on the ground. Adjust the height of the towels for the desired twist; for less intensity, raise the number of towels under your knees. You should feel a gentle stretch in the low back, rib cage, and chest area. This pose supports the range of motion in the low back and passively stretches the intercostals. Repeat to the other side.
Supported Bridge Pose with Block
Lie on your back, knees bent, with the heels close to the buttocks. Draw the navel toward the spine and lift the hips up. Place a block or two to three towels under the tailbone. Be sure the block is placed low toward the sacrum and not under the middle back. You should not feel any discomfort in the low back. Place the arms by your sides, palms facing up. Allow the body to rest on the towels. This pose works the hip flexors and facilitates blood flow from the heart to the brain.
Legs up the Wall or Resting on a Chair
Lying on your back, bring the buttocks as close to a wall as possible or to the legs of a chair. Bring the body around so the legs rest on the seat of the chair or against the wall or chair. If the legs are on the wall, the hips should be on the floor and not elevated. If necessary, place a small towel under the head so the neck is not hyper-extended. Place the arms next to the body, palms facing up. This pose offsets the effects of the round in the lower extremities. You will feel relief in the knees and feet, reducing swelling and joint pain.
Chest Opener with Bolster or Towels Under the Spine
Using four towels, take two and roll them up like a jelly roll cake to accommodate the entire length of your spine, sacrum to the head. Note: Be sure the head is supported when you lie back. Take the remaining towels, rolling them up to be placed under your knees. Sitting on the mat, place the jelly roll at the base of the spine. Place the other towels under the knees. Roll back onto the towels feeling the opening in the chest, palms face up. Be sure the head is supported and there is no discomfort in the lumbar spine. Relax for three to five minutes. To come out of the pose, roll over to the right side for thirty seconds before standing up. Note: Let gravity do the work in these poses. Breathe deeply and rest.
Congratulations! Youve completed the Eight Week Challenge. Continue working these series of exercises and for sure you will reap the benefits on the golf course.