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Tips for Better Golf and Improved Health Week 1- Breathing

Week 1- Breathing!
One of the greatest gifts of yoga is the tremendous health benefits. What does good health mean to you? It is important to be clear regarding your intentions, expectations and goals for your health through the practice of yoga. Take the time to write down your current golf challenges, physical and mental. Be specific. Include, for example, that you want to work on your balance in order to improve a swing that 'breaks down.' Or note a physical component, such as a need to increase club control with the hands, or any mental challenges, such as a desire to increase your concentration. This will help you develop a baseline, a starting point from which to chart your progress.
If you have been reading my articles on The Golf Channels website over the last four and one-half years you undoubtedly are experiencing the benefits of the yoga for golfers program in the course.
Recently scientists have begun to test yogas effect on medical conditions and the results are impressive. Many feel that yoga will soon become an integral part of treatment of various disorders, similarly to the way society now embraces massage therapy, chiropractic care and acupuncture.
The following content was selected from a recent magazine on the topics of yoga and chronic back pain, heart disease and depression.
Chronic back pain:
When doctors at the HMO Group Health Cooperative in Seattle pitted 12 weekly session of yoga against therapeutic exercises and a handbook on self-care, they discovered the yoga group not only showed greater improvement but experienced benefits lasting 14 weeks longer.
Heart disease:
Several trials have found that yoga can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and resting heart rates, and help slow the progression of atherosclerosis ' all risk factors for heart disease, says Erin Olivo, PhD, director of Columbia Universitys Integrative Medicine program. While almost any exercise is good for the heart, experts speculate yogas meditative component may give it an extra boost by helping stabilize the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels that, when irritated, contributes to cardiovascular disease. Since the lining is reactive to stress and meditation can lower stress hormones, yoga may be causing a cascade of events that could reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Low brain levels of the neurotransmitter GABA are often found in people with depression: SSRIs, electroconvulsive therapy and now yoga, it seems, can boost GABA. Preliminary research out of the Boston University School of Medicine and Harvards McLean Hospital found that healthy subjects who practiced yoga for one hour had a 27 percent increase in levels of GABA compared with a control group that simply sat and read for an hour. This supports a growing body of research thats proving yoga can significantly improve mood and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
You may be asking yourself, Where do I begin? At the beginning! Yoga always starts with awareness of the breath.
Here we go!
Begin on your back, knees bent, with support placed under the backs of your knees. Place your finger tips on your ribcage. Begin by inhaling to the count of four, exhaling for a count of four. Repeat ten times.

Remove your hands from your ribcage and place your palms facing up. Keep your eyes closed. Now increase your exhalation to a count of six. Repeat ten times. Continue on your back, feeling the warmth of the increased blood flow throughout your body and pay attention to the quietness of mind.

Next week we will begin with the most common and obvious benefits of yoga ' total body flexibility.
Check out all the new fitness tips on The Turn, Monday nights at 10:00 pm PST starting Monday!
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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 or visit