I have very specific standards for a good yoga class. I like it to be challenging physically. But even more importantly, I appreciate it when the instructor shares inspirational quotes and ideas. It’s a great way to stretch my body and mind at the same time. Often, I walk away with new ideas on how I can bring more peace and equilibrium to my yoga practice and my life. Sometimes, I take the inspiration a step further and think about how philosophies in yoga can help my golf game. You may have read about some of the parallels between yoga and golf. This next installment takes a look at more words of wisdom heard at yoga with thoughts on how they can be taken to the course.
“If you can’t change the situation, change the way you look at it.”
Now, there are certain poses in yoga that I’m not all that fond of, and sometimes when the instructor leads us into one of them, I’m full of dread. As you can imagine, this doesn’t lead to success or remote feelings of enjoyment in the pose. However, I found that by shifting my thoughts and telling myself to just try this pose and see what happens. I actually enjoyed it and did better than all of the other times I attempted it with a not-so-great attitude. The same goes for golf and all of the less-than-desirable situations we get into, like when you find yourself smackdab in the middle of a sand trap, or behind a giant tree, or even right in the drink. Can we change those circumstances? No. But we can take a minute to reframe the situation and decide we’re going to make the best of it.
“Begin by erasing mind . . . download everything and just focus.”
My yoga instructor told us that the other day at the start of class, reminding us that just like we clear the desktops of our computers, it’s important to clear our minds before we start practice. Otherwise, it’s impossible to be in the moment and truly mindful. How about considering that thought as we contemplate our first tee shot of the day? If we begin a round with our minds full of real-life head traffic, we lose a great deal of concentration. Plus, the whole reason we golf—to escape, relax, and enjoy the sport—is lost, and we’re left not only battling our problems but also not enjoying the game. Try erasing your mind next time you golf and see how much more enjoyable your round can be.
“Remember that yoga is a practice; it’s not meant to be perfect.”
Even after 12 years of yoga, I still can’t touch my toes. However, I don’t feel bad about this, because I know I’m working on it. The yoga instructors have drilled it in my head that we practice yoga, meaning we are far from experts. Even the instructors and yoga gurus have things to work on, and that’s okay. Doesn’t that sound like golf? Watch any professional golfer miss a putt, and you’ll see this in action. Even the greatest golfers aren’t perfect; they mess up too. Each time we golf, we need to keep in mind that our games are a work in progress.
“Your breath is your greatest asset.”
This quote has gotten me through many yoga classes when I’m spending too much time on a difficult pose or going through a rough sequence. It’s also helped in life, from physical tasks like running a marathon to emotional times when I need to calm down. I’ve also taken this practice to my golf game, using the power of breath to came myself down when I’m scoring particularly high on a hole so I can regroup and turn things around.
“Thank yourself for showing up on the mat.”
Almost every yoga instructor says that at the end of class. These words always make me feel good; not only do they squelch any guilt I may have felt for escaping my real life for that hour, but they also remind me that I’ve done something important for my mind, body, and spirit. We should consider doing the same at the end of each round. No matter how well we played, we should thank ourselves for taking the time to work on our game and getting good exercise and fresh air.
Whether we’re talking about yoga, golf, or any other activity in life, it all comes down to living in the moment. Whatever you’re doing, practice being more thoughtful, more present, and more accepting of the ups and downs of the situation. Keep this in mind, and your rounds—as well as your days—will feel so much better! Namaste.