Why yoga will improve your golf swing and fitness game
Yoga was traditionally a male-dominated practice, although you might not know that if you look around a yoga class today.
Many (not all) men dismiss the practice today because it doesn’t fit their idea of a ‘masculine’ workout. It’s all soft stretching and chanting, right? Wrong.
Like anything, sometimes it requires a little shopping around to find a good fit for you, but when you do, you’ll find that yoga can provide a serious body-weight workout and be extremely challenging – mentally and physically.
Thankfully, more and more men are recognising this. Here are a just a few of the physical and mental benefits yoga can provide…
Men tend to be naturally less mobile than women, particularly in their hamstrings, glutes, shoulders and pecs. Whether they’re hunched over a desk all day, pouring concrete slabs or repeating the same movements at the gym day in and day out, men often ignore the importance of stretching. Over time, neglected muscle groups and connective tissue become tighter and more restricted, often resulting in injury or joint pain.
Practicing yoga on a regular basis can reduce these risks. According to a study by the American Council on Exercise, a regular Hatha yoga practice significantly improved flexibility, muscular strength, endurance and balance. After eight weeks, the group improved their flexibility by 13 to 35 per cent.
Many male athletes now incorporate yoga into their training regimes with stars such as Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Chris Judd among those endorsing the practice. But it’s not just for elite athletes. Whether you surf, run or lift, yoga could be the key to improving your game.
Yoga helps to build strength, particularly in the core and stabiliser muscles. The unique poses, twists and balances require incredible strength and muscle control. It forces you to spend time in unfamiliar poses and use muscles that are often neglected in other forms of training. Stronger stabiliser muscles means better posture and alignment (hello improved golf swing) and a stronger core maximises your power output. They also work to prevent injury.
In addition to strengthening your body, yoga is a great form of active rest and recovery. Speak to any sportsman and they’ll tell you that ‘recovery‘ is essential to better performance. Depending on the type of class, yoga incorporates a number of restorative poses and stretches that can aid recovery.
Stress relief and clarity
Australians are suffering from higher levels of stress than ever before. The cost of living is on the rise and we are working longer and harder to afford it. Many of us find it hard to switch off, particularly with the constant influx of emails, phone calls and social media.
According to the Australian Psychological Society’s 2015 report, 35 per cent of Australians report having significant levels of distress in their lives, while 26 per cent report above normal levels of anxiety. Women appear to suffer more than men, but the guys aren’t far behind, with 44 per cent of men reporting financial issues as a major cause of stress. Higher levels of stress can in turn lead to physical and mental illnesses.
Yoga provides time away from the world and its pressures. The emphasis on breath is great for stress relief, because controlled breathing can invoke the relaxation response, a state of “profound rest”. Breath control is also a great way to improve mental clarity because it forces you to be in the moment. When men learn to shut out external pressures, they are able to focus effectively on the task at hand, whatever that may be. And getting down on the mat, even once or twice a week, is a great place to start learning how to do that.
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