The philosophies behind yoga relate closely to the mental and physical aspects of golf. Yoga and golf may seem like two completely different activities, but they have one thing in common – both involve the power of the mind. Whether it’s making a 20-foot putt or getting into a pose.  In fact, the principles behind yoga – mindfulness, going within, taking each moment as it comes, and breathing – are principles that when applied to golf, can take our games to a new level.  See how quotes from the mat can be taken to the course to help you not only improve your game, but enjoy it, and your life more each day.

I’ve been doing yoga consistently for the past 12 years, and I’ve been golfing since I was 8, but it wasn’t until the other day, in downward dog, that I had a revelation: The mindset needed for yoga is very similar to the mindset needed for golf. Had I been drinking too much Yogi tea, you may wonder? Nope. This epiphany came when my yoga instructor began class with, “Your mat is a learning space…a place to see how your body reacts to certain poses, and how you react mentally.”

Of course, my mind instantly compared this to golf (because wouldn’t everyone’s?), and I spent the rest of the class thinking about other parallels between yoga and golf. Roll out your mat, there are plenty.

“Your mat is a learning space.”

It’s easy to get frustrated in yoga when surrounded by yogis who are killin’ it, and your body just won’t cooperate. However, this quote is a reminder that every pose in yoga is a learning opportunity. Struggles force us to consider how to do a pose better.

We are constantly learning as we play, evaluating what techniques work, what we need to practice, and how we react (physically and mentally) to our shots.  It’s easy to get frustrated when a round isn’t going well. Being aware of this, and remembering that each shot provides valuable lessons, is a great way to enjoy the game more and also grow as a golfer and person.

“The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.”

This is my favorite yoga quote, which I interpret to mean that the way we act and react is consistent in many areas of our lives. For example, if we are careless and quick, rushing through poses on the mat, we’re probably going to act the same way when replying to emails or preparing to go to the golf course. The goal of yoga is to train our minds to slow down and be deliberate and thoughtful in our actions. The hope is that if we do this in yoga, we’ll do this in life. Enter the golf course, where yogi golfers can benefit by being mindful and deliberate in shots, always striving to be not only good golfers, but thoughtful golfers and people, bearing traits of honesty, integrity, and dedication.  If we’re doing this on the course, we’re probably doing this in life.

“Trust the process.”

My favorite yoga teacher always began class with, “I’ll get you in and out of here safely in 90 minutes. Follow me, keep practicing, and trust the process.” Meaning, if we did what we were supposed to do, we’d reap the benefits. Same goes with golf. Let’s face it, we all pretty much know what we need to do to get better… practice, practice, and then . . . you guessed it, more practice. The trick is to not get frustrated along the way, and simply trust that our dedication and persistence—through repetition, lessons, and dedication—will pay off.

“Every time you come to the mat is a different experience.”

This quote is supposed to help us feel better when we’re having a rough class. We shouldn’t pressure ourselves to do all of the poses each class, because the truth is, sometimes our bodies are a little off. Yogis say we should be gentle and give ourselves a break. It’s the same on the golf course. Have you ever had a round where you thought you were invincible, only to return the next time and feel like it was your very first time hitting a club? Next time this happens, let’s remember this is normal and something that happens to amateurs and pros alike.

“If you do something the same way every time, you get the same results.”

I heard this in yoga one day right after the instructor asked us to ever-so-slightly change our grips in a certain pose, “just to see how it felt.” She went on to suggest that slight modifications can make all the difference, but we’ll never understand this if we keep doing things the same way each time.  Have you ever rolled your hand just a wee bit on a five iron and suddenly gained a lot more yards on your stroke? Yeah, those slight tweaks to our grips, stances, and swings really can make a difference. We just have to be brave enough to try those changes and practice them often.

Are you just getting limbered up and ready for more parallels? No worries, take a rest in savasana . . .