Improve Your Golf Game With Yoga

Golfers who have ever been the putt of a joke on the 18th hole have a new tool to help them master the fairways. It doesn’t involve a putting green or practice range. It’s yoga, and according to golfers, it can help improve your game.

“My handicap has improved over the past couple of years, and after this class I’ve made the connection that perhaps that has a lot to do with all the yoga I’ve done,” said Jenah Victor, who attended a recent preview golf yoga class at Bala Vinyasa Yoga in Naples.

Angie Ferraro, a Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) level two golf fitness instructor and certified personal trainer, led that class. Ferraro is now offering a special two-hour yoga workshop for golfers on Sunday, April 25, at the Bala Vinyasa studio. An avid golfer herself, Ferraro understands well the correlation between yoga and golf. Many of the poses Ferraro teaches in her yoga classes resemble positions a golfer may expect during a typical round of golf.

“Through the yoga postures, I can get a feel for a golfer’s mobility, strength and balance,” said Ferraro. “Yoga is a specific training tool, so golfers who practice yoga can expect multiple benefits.” A few of those benefits can include improved core strength which can lead to hitting the ball father. Yoga also helps open up different areas of the body and enhances the muscle strength golfers need to swing the club with better focus and aim.

Using individual assessments, Ferraro makes suggestions. Each assessment is the key to a tailored program that can help the golfer improve the attributes that power his or her game. “The buttocks are the king of the golf swing and transfer the power of the lower body to the upper body and to the club,” said Ferraro, who has participants bring a five-iron to class. Both beginners and experts attend Ferraro’s golf yoga classes and she expects a similar mix at her upcoming golf-focused yoga workshop.

“I belong to the Bala Vinyasa Yoga community but this was my first time being able to attend a golf yoga workshop with Ms. Ferraro,” said Victor, an intermediate level yoga student who played golf for Naples High School. “I love yoga, but I had never made the connection between golf and yoga until Ms. Ferraro pointed it out in her class. Anything that can shave a few numbers off your golf score is wonderful.”  Yoga beginner Roxanne Becken had never tried yoga. Her mother, Liz Snyder, who winters in Naples, had attended yoga more than 40 years ago. Snyder recently began taking Ferraro’s yoga class to improve her golf game. Both mother and daughter are golfers, so during Becken’s visit to Naples from their home state of Minnesota they attended one of Ferraro’s golf yoga classes.  “I feel like going and swinging a golf club now, because I feel so limber,” said Becken, who says she at first felt intimidated by yoga. “I was concerned about the inability to do the different poses. However, the way it was broken down and how Ms. Ferraro made minor adjustments, I didn’t feel tense at all. I feel so open and energized.”

The average golfer can achieve the poses Ferraro teaches, regardless of their age or skill level. Ferraro helps students work at their own pace and fitness level. Some poses, like the crescent lunge with a twist, bear a strong resemblance to how the upper body is positioned for a golf swing. Other yoga positions require a sense of humor to execute. It’s hard to imagine how a serious golfer could complete the “happy baby” pose with their dignity intact, but the golfers in Ferraro’s yoga class pull it off.

“Yoga is a smooth process, as opposed to the strenuous nature of getting on machines, and you get so much out of it,” said Snyder. “And yet yoga doesn’t make you feel like you’re extending yourself to the point of it not being enjoyable.”

Besides the golf yoga workshop, Kiersten Mooney, who owns the Bala Vinyasa Yoga studio, will soon welcome master yoga practitioner Baron Baptiste for a different workshop, which is already sold out. Yoga instructors like Baptiste and Mooney say yoga is so much more than working the physical body. “Yoga has been clinically proven to reduce mild depression and anxiety and is a known stress reliever,” said Mooney. Ferraro’s golf yoga classes also focus on stress reduction through breathing, something that also helps golfers better handle the mental side of the game.

“Sometimes in my own golf game, I arrive at the tee box and begin to stress about the group behind me,” Ferraro shared in one of her classes. “But I use my breath to help me stay present, calm and centered.”

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