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Workout: Yoga for Golfers
By: Amanda Junker – Men’s Health
Hit longer drives, stay focused on the course, and lower your score with this yoga warm-up.
In golf, the power of your swing starts from the ground up. This means that all the curls in the world won’t help you hit longer drives or swing fewer strokes. So if you want to be stronger on the links, drop the weights and get on the yoga mat. “Swing power is generated from the lower body to the hips, the trunk, the shoulders, the arms, and out to the club,” says Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers and fitness expert for the Golf channel. “A lot of yoga postures are very good at getting deep into the connective tissue and musculature of the hips. The hips initiate the downswing, so having mobility in the hips and strong glutes is really critical for generating power.”
The following yoga sequence is designed by Roberts to maximize your key power sources by opening the hips and strengthening the glutes. It will also build strength and stability in the lumbar spine to prevent injury. As you practice these poses, don’t forget to breathe. Paying attention to your breath will pay dividends on the course: “The number one reason for swing faults is tension in the body, and that’s a byproduct of lack of blood flow and lack of breath,” says Roberts. “The fastest way for you to relax the body and calm the mind is to through the breath because it’s the easiest, most efficient way to the calm heart.” The next time you’re about to hit the links, practice the following sequence:
Lay down on back, breathing deeply in and out through the nose. Grasping both your hands around right knee, pull knee to chest. Keeping right leg bent, rotate it out to the right, with your right hand holding knee and left hip on the floor. Move into alligator pose by putting right foot on top of left knee, spread your arms out perpendicular to your body and twist your body toward the left, keeping right shoulder on the floor. Exhale and return to center, then repeat on left side.
2. Knees to Chest
Inhale and bring your legs back up to center bringing knees in to chest. Holding your legs, roll back around in a circular motion clockwise a few times, working the muscles of the low back, preparing the body for the swing. Repeat counter-clockwise.
3. Cat – Cow
Come onto all fours with hands directly below shoulders and fingers spread. Inhale, lowering spine toward floor and rolling the shoulders back for cow pose. Inhale chin into chest, chest into spine, and spine into the ceiling for cat pose. Walk your knees back, exhale, and press back into modified child’s pose.
Inhale forward into cobra pose, placing palms next to body on sides of the chest, elbows bent, fingers pointing straight ahead. Press into palms, curling shoulders and chest off the floor. Lift hips and torso off the floor into a mini backbend. Exhale, lower hips, belly, and shoulders to the floor.
5. Downward Facing Dog
Curl your toes under and pushing evenly into your palms, lift your knees off the floor. Lift your sit bones toward the ceiling and push the top of your thighs back so that your body looks like an inverted “V.” At first keep knees bent and heels lifted off the floor. Slowly start to straighten your knees—but don’t lock them. Gently begin to move your chest back toward your thighs until your ears are even with your upper arms; don’t let your head dangle. Keep your hips lifting and push strongly into your hands.
6. Forward Bend
Walk the body forward into a standing position. Folding your torso forward, bend your knees as needed and grab your opposite elbows, letting the body hang down. Bend your knees so feel stretch all the way through lower back. Hold 3 breaths. Inhale, exhale and straighten legs. Hold for 3 breaths, inhale then exhale to make the legs straight. Bend and straighten the knees a few times for a dynamic stretch. Bend the knees, release your hands, and roll all the way up.
7. Crescent pose
Step the right foot back into a lunge position, keeping your left leg just slightly bent. Raise your arms straight above your head. Bend deeper into your left knee until the left thigh is parallel to the ground and the right knee is almost touching the ground, then lift your body back up. Repeat at least 5 times, performing as many as 15 reps if you can.
8. Warrior 1
From crescent, rotate your right foot so it’s completely planted on the ground, pointing out to the right, but keeping your hips and torso facing forward. Squeeze the right glutes and keep the right leg very straight, lowering down and bending the left knee so you feel the stretch all the way through the right hip. Clasp hands behind head, then inhale and bring elbows together so they meet in front of your face. Exhale to open, and repeat 2 more times.
9. Reverse Warrior
From warrior position, raise the left arm up to the ceiling, keeping the right hand down beside the right thigh. Arch backward so you feel the stretch through the whole body.
10. Extended Side Angle
Lean forward with left arm resting on left knee, and bring right arm up and over the head. Revolve the ribcage toward the ceiling for a twisting stretch in the torso.
11. Plank to Cobra to Downward Facing Dog
Release hands down and step back to plank position. Lower the body down toward the floor, inhale, squeeze the glutes, press hands into the floor and lift the chest for modified cobra. Exhale back down then curl your toes under and push back for downward facing dog. Step the right leg forward and repeat steps 7 to 11 on the right side
12. Hip Abductor
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and loop a resistance band around ankles. Shift weight onto left leg, extend right leg and pulse outward 10 to 15 times. Shift weight to the right leg and repeat on the other side.
13. Hip Adductor
Remove resistance band and stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Extend the right leg forward and cross over to the left, pulsing upward. Repeat with left leg.
14. Reclined Twist
Lay on back with a strap or band looped around right foot. Holding onto the strap with your hands, extend right leg in the air, bending the knee slightly. Exhale and straighten right leg, pressing heel upward, flexing quad, and pulling toes back toward you, about 5 times. Hold strap in right hand and lay left arm perpendicular to body. Slowly ease right leg over to the right, keeping your left hip on the floor. Bring the leg back up and take the strap in your left hand, laying your right arm perpendicular to the body and bring your leg over to the left side of your body. Switch sides and repeat.
15. Bound Angle pose
In a seated position, pull the soles of your feet together with your heels as close to your groin as possible. Sit up as tall as possible, inhale, and bring the knees up then press down to the ground. Repeat for a few breaths.
16. Pigeon pose
Start in plank position with the hands underneath the shoulders and bring the right knee so it’s touching the right wrist and bring your right foot up so your shin is parallel to your torso. Slide the left leg back straight out behind you. If your right hip is of the floor, place a block or rolled towel beneath the buttox. Sit the torso up, bring the navel to the spine, and hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on left side.
17. Eagle Twist
Lay flat on your back and take your arms perpendicular to the body, and cross your right leg over your left. Bring left heel as close as you can to your body, roll over so the legs come to the left and hold. Keep right shoulder on the floor and hold for 10 breaths. Switch to the other side and hold for 10 breaths.