With current PGA Tour icons such as Tiger Woods and Camilo Villegas visibly portraying the benefits of weight training and exercising, the golf world has taken notice. The Minnesota Gopher men's and women's golf teams are no exception. This past off season, both teams took a new approach to their training regimens, deciding to use yoga as a tool to increase success on the course and give themselves an advantage over their opponents.
"I have definitely seen a change in my players flexibility, increase in their strength and also I believe Yoga allowed them to work on being more present not only during competition but while they are practicing," said Gophers' women's Associate Head Coach Kris Wessinger. "I think this gives our players an advantage over their opponents because most Division I programs don't have yoga instructors so they aren't learning these skills our athletes are practicing."
Beginning in January, both programs have been using a type of yoga called Vinyasa yoga. Like all yoga, Vinyasa (commonly referred to as "Power Yoga") enhances flexibility, balance, focus, and breath awareness, yet is more vigorous and improves strength faster than gentler forms of the ancient art. Literally meaning "uniting breath with movement," Vinyasa aides in each players pursuit of playing their best possible golf.
"As a coach I want to provide my players with as many resources as possible that will assist them in reaching their full potential." said Wessinger, who is in her eighth season with the women's golf program.
Wessinger says she got the idea from many professional golfers who have used yoga as a tool to increase flexibility and work on concentration and awareness, such as former British Open Champion and World No. 1 David Duval. Duval attributes yoga for giving him greater range of motion in the hip and shoulder joints, which generate extra power and distance.
According to Wessinger, other benefits of yoga that relate to golf include the abilities to manage challenges with greater ease, breath in response to pressure increased vitality and endurance, and hit the golf ball with less tension.
The coach also stated that with the golf teams constantly traveling on the road, yoga provides an easy workout that each player can use on its down time.
And don't expect this new addition to the workout plan to be taken out anytime soon.
"I have really liked all the benefits yoga has provided our team with this spring," said Wessinger. "We will definitely plan to use yoga as another resource for our athletes to help in the process of them reaching their full potential while they are at the University of Minnesota."