So it’s Christmas Day in Orlando. With no family in the area and no significant other to spend time with, I was faced with a dilemma – what do I do with myself all day?
This is what golf was made for.
I just got back from walking 11 holes at Winter Park Country Club, a delightful little track that is very walker-friendly. The course was technically closed and none of the pins were in, but that didn’t stop me – or the other two dozen or so players I saw out there.
Free golf! Merry Christmas to me.
Anyway. I hadn’t touched a club in about a month and hadn’t played in almost two months. This usually means a sloppy round where I swing too hard, and am too stiff to really play well. It would usually take 5 or 6 holes just to loosen up, let alone commanding my body to execute the shot my mind has envisioned.
Ah, but there has been something I’ve been doing for the past couple of months that I was curious in seeing if it would help my game. Yoga.
I have done about eight sessions of yoga, every Monday night, and I love it. Aside from the obvious benefits of stretching and gentle exercise, it has taught me some things I did not expect. Things like breathing. Don’t laugh. Many of us do not control our breathing very well, or underestimate the power contained in that seemingly automatic physical function. Slowing your breath down, feeling it, listening to it, can greatly affect your mental state.
Yoga also teaches you how to slow down, how to move gracefully, balance, discipline, and self-love. Get your mind out of the gutter. I mean self appreciation for finding time to take care of yourself.
So today was the first time I played golf as a practicing yogi and was anxious to see if there was an effect.
There was. Quite a profound one.
To begin with, that anticipated stiffness and swinging too hard? Didn’t happen. I felt quite loose actually and I didn’t seem to have that ‘kill the ball’ mentality that accompanies the first round in a month. On the first tee I hit a nice solid 3-wood down the left side about 225 yards – a shot I would have taken in the middle of the summer let alone for the first swing in a month.
I walked, which offered a great time to work on breathing. In and out through the nose, deep, full breaths. Leisurely steps. Just be. Enjoying the moment.
My golf swings felt very flowing. Sure, I hit a couple of meh shots, but they weren’t from trying to kill the ball, but instead they were just from, well being human. That’s another thing yoga has taught me – there is no right or wrong. Just do what you can and accept. No judging. I really needed this kind of attitude instilled, since I get way too critical of myself. Not in yoga – each week I stare in amazement of my beautiful instructor, Lee, as she is able to execute positions I can only dream about accomplishing, but never once have I felt pressure to emulate. Be happy with being me, and love myself for making time for me.
By the middle of the round I noticed something else. I had gained distance. On the last hole, a 260-yard slight dogleg left, I hit a perfect cut-driver that settled five yards short of the green – that’s a 255-yard CUT driver. That was Jerry from 30 years ago right there.
This is going to be a wonderful marriage of two activities. Golf and yoga. For golfers like me that are starting to age, and you are finding that the body just doesn’t respond like it did when you were 25, try yoga. I think you will be very satisfied with what it does for your game, your attitude, and your frame of mind.
Merry Christmas. Namaste.