Playing golf may look like little more than a slow walk on a grassy expanse with occasional swings and putts, but golf actually requires a lot of strength, endurance, flexibility, muscle control, and mental focus.
As such, in many ways, the overlap between golf and yoga is more significant than you might think.
Moreover, because the golf swing occurs primarily with one side of the body, golfers can develop muscle imbalances and overuse injuries if they don’t balance out their golf playing with supplemental strengthening, mobility, and flexibility work, making yoga a perfect adjunct to any golfer’s exercise routine.
Yoga for golfers can help build core strength, develop mind-body awareness, correct muscle imbalances, and increase flexibility and control, all of which can help general more power and precision in your golf swing and reduce the risk of chronic tightness and injuries.
If you love playing golf and want nothing more than to play your best game while feeling strong and pain-free for 18 holes, keep reading for the best yoga poses for golfers.
In this guide, we will cover:
- 5 Benefits of Yoga for Golfers
- 8 Best Yoga Poses for Golfers
- Incorporating Yoga and Golf
Let’s get started!
5 Benefits of Yoga for Golfers
Practicing yoga provides anyone with numerous benefits, including increasing flexibility, balance, coordination, core strength, and upper-body strength. Yoga can also improve your mood, decrease feelings of anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure, and support weight loss.
Some of these benefits are particularly helpful for golfers, which is why yoga for golfers can be a game-changer in terms of injury prevention, form improvements, and fitness gains.
Yoga for golfers can provide the following benefits:
#1: Increased Flexibility
Holding yoga poses as you breathe slowly signals the parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest” system) to relax muscle fibers and connective tissues, which can loosen and lengthen your tissues, giving you a greater range of motion around joints.
As your range of motion improves, you can have a less restricted, full golf swing, which may allow you to drive the ball further down the fairway and feel more fluid in your movements, according to research.
Yoga poses for golfers that focus on spinal flexibility are particularly helpful and ease muscle tension that tends to restrict your golf swing.
Increases in flexibility can also reduce the risk of injury. When our muscles and connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, etc.) are tight and stiff, they restrict movement around a joint and are less able to accommodate sudden movements.
Therefore, if you make a sudden, relatively normal movement when you are tight and stiff, you can pull muscles or strain tendons. Restoring an optimal range of motion reduces this risk.
#2: Increased Strength
Yoga is great for increasing strength in your core, as well as your upper body and lower body, depending on what poses you perform.
The best yoga poses for golfers strengthen muscles used in golf, such as the shoulders, core, back, glutes, and hips.
The movement of your golf swing comes mainly from the spine and shoulders, but the power comes from the core and hips, so yoga poses for golfers that step then the core, hips, glutes, back, and shoulders can translate to a much more powerful golf swing.
#3: Increased Balance and Coordination
One trait that both yoga and golf share is the heavy reliance on balance and coordination. Tree pose is a great yoga pose for golfers, for example, because it increases balance, focus, and core strength.
Many golfers who take up a consistent yoga practice find that yoga helps them feel more in control of their body.
#4: Reduced Risk of Injuries
As mentioned, the golf swing is very one-sided, and golfers often develop muscle imbalances, chronic neck or shoulder tightness, low back pain, and tension in the upper back from hunching over to putt.
Yoga poses for golfers that lengthen the spine, open the chest and hips, and restore strength and motion in both sides of the body equally can help prevent overuse injuries and the dysfunctional movement induced by solely playing golf.
#5: Increased Mental Focus
Any golfer knows that the difference between a good day on the course and an unfortunate high score often comes down to your mental game and how well you are able to focus.
Yoga is one of the best ways to practice being mindful and present. As such, yoga poses for golfers should be seen as more than just a physical practice of holding the body positions, but also a tool to enhance mental focus and stamina.
Golfers can also benefit from the breath control gained through yoga, and the ability to stay calm under pressure.
8 Best Yoga Poses for Golfers
#1: Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Tree pose is one of the best yoga poses for golfers looking to improve balance and focus. You’ll develop stability and core strength while lengthening the spine, improving posture, and opening the chest and shoulders.
Gradually build up the length of time you can hold the pose, focusing on staying mentally present and tuned into your breath.
#2: Reverse Plank Pose (Purvottanasana)
Most golfers suffer from tight wrists, particularly after gripping various clubs all day. Moreover, by hunching down over your clubs as you prepare to swing, you develop tightness in your chest while overstretching your upper back.
Due to these common postural and ergonomic issues, Reverse Plank pose is one of the best yoga poses for golfers. It is fanatic for stretching your wrists, chest, neck, hip flexors, quads, and ankles. It also strengthens your shoulders.
Be sure to squeeze your glutes and pull your shoulder blades together to open your chest and activate your back.
Bow pose is a good yoga pose for golfers because it strengthens your glutes, upper back, hamstrings, shoulders, and chest, all of which support your golf swing.
Many golfers seek a way to get more power behind their golf swing, but focus more on the shoulders and back to derive the strength they need. Instead, if you drive from your glutes and hips, you can put significantly more muscle mass behind your swing and use your whole body to drive the ball.
However, because we tend to sit most of the time (at least most of the time when we aren’t out on the golf course!), our glutes tend to be “turned off,” and many people struggle to effectively recruit them for movements.
Use this yoga pose to strengthen your neuromuscular connection to your glutes. Focus on squeezing your glutes to lift your legs up into the pose, rather than passively grabbing them with your hands and pulling them into place.
Finally, Bow pose is a good yoga pose for golfers because it stretches the chest, shoulders, hip flexors, and hamstrings, which can get tight from hunching over to grip your clubs.
#4: Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
Yoga for golfers is most effective when it augments the characteristics you need to play golf, one of which is good core strength.
Boat pose is a static, isometric hold that requires tremendous core control as it strengthens your abs, quads, hip flexors, and spinal stabilizers.
Be sure to keep your back straight and shoulders back, as this will help build core strength and balance while also encouraging good posture and the synergistic support and control from the lower abs and lower back.
Downward Facing Dog pose utilizes your shoulders, glutes, calves, core, hamstrings, and back. Squeeze your quads to increase the intensity of the pose.
Golfers tend to get tight shoulders, which can limit your swing and lead to injury. In Downward Dog pose, press firmly into your palms and keep your spine and arms long to get a good stretch in your tight shoulders and strengthen them in flexion.
#6: Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Playing golf can cause imbalances in strength, flexibility, and mobility across the body between the right and left sides. This yoga pose helps restore balance between the right and left sides of your body.
The twisting posture also opens up your chest and hips, which are usually tight after a round of golf given the nature of the unilateral golf swing motion.
#7: Side Angle
Side angle is another good yoga pose for golfers because it improves your balance, focus, breath control, and body awareness.
It also stretches and strengthens the hips and legs, which again, should be the primary powerhouse drivers behind your golf swing.
#8: Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Low Lunge is a good yoga pose for golfers because it stretches and strengthens the quads, hamstrings, hips, and groin, which are often neglected in the stretching and strengthening routine of golfers.
Low Lunge opens your hips and groin, as well as the chest, ensuring you’ll be able to achieve full rotation in your golf swing.
Incorporating Yoga and Golf
If you love playing golf, chances are, you’d rather be out on the green than on your yoga mat. The good news is that you can incorporate yoga into your fitness routine without feeling like it’s taking over your time and you have to be a yogi who plays golf rather than a golfer who practices yoga.
Try incorporating these yoga poses for golfers into your cool-down routine after playing a round, or set aside 10 minutes 2-3 times per week to move through some of these poses. In a matter of weeks, you’ll feel looser, more in tune with your body, and ready to get your lowest score yet.
You can also check out more yoga poses for flexibility here.