Flexibility, or fluidity, may be more difficult to achieve than strength and stability. Power, balance and weight transfer all depend on fluidity of your body. These factors all fuse during the golf swing, and the Virabhadrasana pose, pictured here, will help bring these elements together.
The Virabhadrasana pose increases stamina, strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles, stretches the groins, chest, lungs and shoulders, stimulates abdominal organs and relieves backaches. It is also important to note that because your legs become stronger, the better able they are to stabilize the rotation of the golf swing. The hips also become more flexible and are able to generate more power through the swing.
In order to achieve this pose, with an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet three and a half to four feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively up to the sky, palms in. You can then turn your right foot in slightly to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Align the left heel with the right heel. Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor.
If possible, bring the left thigh parallel to the floor. Anchor this movement of the left knee by strengthening the right leg and pressing the outer right heel firmly to the floor. You should be able to feel the difference.
Make sure that when in this pose you don’t lean the torso over the left thigh: Keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the pelvis. Press the tailbone slightly toward the pubis. Stay for 30 seconds to one minute. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.
A partner can help you strengthen your back leg. Have your partner stand behind your back leg. Loop a strap around your inner groin, and as you bend the front knee into the pose, your partner can pull firmly on the strap while you resist the back-leg inner groin away from that movement. Feel how this helps to open the groins.
Because golfers swing from one side of the body, asymmetry occurs in the body. If you are a golfer, repetitive motion manifests as larger muscles on one side of your body. Overtraining of one side of a golfer’s body will make stronger muscles tighter and weaker muscles more flexible. The tight muscles will then restrict the free movement of surrounding muscles, ultimately leading to limited range of motion. As a golfer, limited range of motion is bad.
A symmetrical golf stroke is not only going to be more accurate and go farther, but it is also going to produce less strain on the body. To create more equality on both sides of the body, golfers need to hold strengthening poses on the weaker side of the body and opening poses on the stronger, yet tighter, side of the body. This is in addition to a regular yoga program of poses performed equally on both sides.
Striving toward symmetry and balance is the essence of a yoga program, which breaks down tension the body has learned to work around. It is an intuitive process that takes practice to develop, much like a good golf game.
A balanced body is a flexible body, and flexibility remains the cornerstone of a good golf game. As Earl Woods tells his son, “What you’re looking for is a soft, flexible, fluid swing — that’s power.”