As I approached Oakmont, my heart began to race. Pittsburghers like me dream about being invited to play the historic course, and I was nervous. Just thinking about the first tee, my hands started shaking; my breathing became difficult. But as I settled in at my locker, I was able to clear my head with just a few deep breaths. Thanks to yoga, I had the tools I needed to step back and gain perspective. I accepted the moment for what it was — a round of golf at an incredible course with two gracious members. Nothing more.
Through controlled breath and meditative movements, practicing yoga has taught me how to stay calm during difficult situations. About three years after I discovered the practice, I became certified in Baptiste-style training. It was an intense 200-hour journey that transformed my mind because it forced me to sort through my own issues before having the capacity to teach others. I now teach whenever I can, and I continue to practice yoga at least a few times a week—the length of each session ranges from 10 to 90 minutes, depending on how stressed I am that day.
I’ve reaped more mental benefits from yoga as I’ve become physically stronger, and that’s why golf and yoga are far more similar than people realize—in golf, even if you’ve mastered the swing, you’ll never be satisfied if your mental game is weak, and vice versa. Golf is sneaky demanding of both physical and mental strength, and practicing yoga off the course is a powerful way to maintain control on the course.
I never keep score so I don’t know what I shot that afternoon at Oakmont, but it wound up being a thrill. I have my host member to thank for that, of course, but without yoga I would’ve been a mess. I likely would not have accepted that invite. Without yoga, there’s no way I’d enjoy playing golf as much as I do today.
This move is called Tiger Pose because it mimics the stretch a tiger makes when he wakes up. And it’s a fantastic way to open up the front of your body — from your ankles to your thighs to your hip flexors and your chest. It’s part of a seven-minute base flow I practice daily. This flow will get your heart rate up, your breathing right, and your mind clear and focused. It’s a perfect way to prepare your mind and body for an important round of golf.
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