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Playing to win on the road: Yoga on the go for golfers with Katherine Roberts' DVDs

Mike BaileyBy Mike Bailey,
Senior Staff Writer
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A yoga routine geared toward golfers can be done on the course or in the hotel room before a round. (Courtesy of Yoga for Golfers)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Most people who play golf understand the benefits of being physically fit. But for many the idea of committing to strenuous regular workouts can seem a bit much.

Still, most golfers know, especially as they get older, that some form of exercise -- especially golf-specific workouts -- could benefit their game.

Taking it a step further is something called "Yoga for Golfers," developed by renowned yoga instructor Katherine Roberts, who has not only worked with professional and amateur golfers but major league baseball teams as well. And to make it easier, Roberts has developed a new program that doesn't take a huge time commitment and, best of all, can be done anywhere.

Roberts has developed a series of instant downloads on her Web site. They can be downloaded to most any computer and even some tablets, range from six minutes to 32 minutes and are, of course, portable by their nature. You don't need any special equipment, so for the traveling golfer, the workouts can be done in the hotel room or even on the course, as Roberts demonstrates, before a round or a business meeting.

"We keep them short and straight to the point," said Roberts, who is based in Arizona. "They're follow-along."

3Dimensional Yoga

The new video series has five different workouts: "The 3Dimensional Warmup," "The 3Dimensional Workout," "Par Level Workout," "The Putting Workout" and "Yoga for Golfers," the video version of her popular book by the same title.

The fact that they are three-dimensional is one of the keys to success, Roberts said.

"In the three-dimensional 'Yoga for Golfers' workout, we link poses together so that your body works in all three planes of motion, which is how golf happens," Roberts said. "Golf doesn’t happen lying on your back, which is why all of the stuff we do is in all three planes of motion."

The benefits of doing these workouts, even just three or four times a week, are invaluable, said Roberts, adding that you will naturally see the improvement in your golf game.

"Yoga for Golfers" helps players gain more flexibility, which will aid in accuracy and distance. Doing the workouts also increases overall strength, the benefit of which is obvious. And anybody who's ever done Yoga knows that it helps with balance, which is also extremely valuable in golf.

A large part of the strengthening from yoga occurs in the core, which is also critical in golf, she said. One thing it does is help golfers maintain their spine angle throughout the swing. But just as important is that it strengthens the back. That part alone is a huge benefit both on the course and off the course.

A case study in yoga

One of Roberts' clients, a 67-year-old man, was considering back surgery and giving up golf when she started working with him.

"I gave him seven exercises -- stretches to do -- 15 minutes a day," she said. "And I asked him if he could make a commitment to do this three or four days a week. Within three months, he was back playing golf. He had no back pain anymore."

Roberts emphasizes that if there's something structurally wrong, patients should get it fixed. But often, just starting a modest program can yield big benefits.

One of the other key elements to yoga routines is breathing, which can't be underestimated, Roberts said.

"In yoga, I say to people, I would rather have you breathe correctly for 20 minutes then have you do one pose and not breathe," she said.

Roberts calls breathing the "mirror to the mind," which can be really important in pressure situations in golf by taking long, slow deep breaths through the nose. "So what you practice every day for 30 minutes you can draw from," she said, "and it becomes second nature."

Yoga for Golfers: The verdict

If you play golf and you've never tried yoga, you owe it to yourself to give this a try. Roberts' "Yoga For Golfers" isn't the advanced stuff you see those limber ladies showing off at the gym; it's a doable program for any age and almost any fitness level. And it's portable, which means no excuses.

The way the series is structured, you can start out with the warm-ups and add from there. And don't discount the putting video. Good setup and posture is more important than most realize in putting, and as our shoulders slump and our setup gets sloppy, being a consistent putter can be difficult. It will also help those who like to practice putting, because as most people know, an hour on the practice green can be tough on the back.

But perhaps the biggest benefit to doing "Yoga for Golfers" is that it extends way beyond the golf course into everyday life.

"The part that I love about it is that people come to me because they want more distance or they want to quiet their mind or they want more consistency," Roberts said, "but what they get are the benefits of Yoga every day all day long."

Cost of the videos range from $6.95 to $18.95 and are available on Roberts' Web site, www.YogaForGolfers.com.

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Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.

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