Focus From the Inside Out

By Katherine RobertsFebruary 22, 2007, 5:00 pm
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.
  • Getty Images

    Woods on firing shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

    His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

    “I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

    “I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

    Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

    It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

    Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.


    Getty Images

    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.