Yoga and disc golf are two activities you may not have heard in the same sentence. I recently started a morning yoga sequence that has provided great benefit to my body and my game and really wanted to pass along these benef its to my disc golf friends. We recently had a unique opportunity to interview Brett Larkin, a Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher, about yoga and how she feels yoga can be advantageous to disc golfers.
Welcome and thanks for joining us here at DG Putt Heads to discuss yoga. How about a quick introduction for our readers?
Sure! I teach yoga on Youtube where my videos and viewed and practiced by students for over 1.5 million minutes a month. I’ve taught at places like Google, Pinterest, Equinox and studios here in San Francisco. But now I mainly just teach on Youtube. The first yoga class I ever experienced was to a free online video. So you never know where taking a free yoga class online may lead you! 🙂
There are a lot of misconceptions about yoga – you have to be flexible, you have to meditate, it is easy, it is just a fad, etc. What would you say to someone curious or tentative about yoga?
Forget about the yoga stereotypes: super bendy girls on Instagram and hippies wearing mala beads. If that stuff resonates with you, GREAT. But if it doesn’t, just remember that yoga, at it’s core is a science. The science of controlling your energy and your mind. It can radically change your life. It can also simply provide incredible cross training for other athletic activities. Yoga is ready to engage with you on any (and every) level you’re interested in. That is why it’s amazing.
Throwing in disc golf is far more of an athletic move than most people realize. The motion is stressful on the body with so many different levers acting in harmony to coil and uncoil for full power. How do you think yoga can help us gain this fluid motion and functional strength?
Many athletes who throw often underestimate the importance of follow-through – physically completing the throwing motion to take muscles in their complete range of motion. A lot of athletes with injuries from throwing subtly halt after they release instead of following the line of energy completely to the end. Yoga (especially the kind I teach) is full of long, fluid movements. So yoga can help disc golfer’s become more in tune with their subtle energy, which would be really helpful when refining their throwing motion.
Yoga makes you more body aware, improves flexibility and mental focus. All of these things are invaluable when you’re refining any fine motor skill. It helps with overall upper body strength as well. My husband is extremely fit and does weights at the gym, but his upper body is always sore after a yoga class. Downdog (if done correctly) is hard 🙂
Not to mention the fact that almost all disc golfers throw with only one arm, risking overtraining certain muscles and a muscular imbalance on the opposing side of the body. How can yoga help us to find muscular balance and avoid related injury?
Shoulder stretches are key for any athletes doing any kind of throwing motion. I’d recommend doing this free shoulder saver class (don’t freak out if the first stretch almost kills you, stick with it). Also, modify your yoga practice (whether at home or in the studio), taking into account the dominant arm. For example: spend more time stretching your throwing arm if arm stretches are in a sequence. Do poses like plank (which strengthen) for an extra round on your non-dominant side.
What’s fantastic about yoga and downdog especially, is that it will help you find where imbalances exist in the body. Again, yoga is all about mental and physical awareness. Once you gain more body awareness, any physical activity you’re doing will improve as a result.
Your YouTube channel is full of great yoga sequences. Which ones are a good starting point for someone completely new to yoga? What kind of gear do we need to get started?
I love talking gear. The only thing you need is a yoga mat. Blocks are a great addition, but I can rarely convince people to invest in them as a first step. So start with a mat. Many of the cheap mats out there are slippery (especially if you also sweat) and can really negatively affect your practice. Any mat is better than not doing yoga, but my favorite pick for men is Gaiam Sol Dry Grip mat is it comes in black and is completely slip-resistant. If you can stand going into a Lululemon, all of their new mats are fantastic and pass my sweat test too.
I’d suggest doing my Beginner Morning Sequence as a first step, which is really popular and great for beginners. Then, watch my downdog tutorial to make sure you’re doing it right (and look in a mirror to check). This is the #1 pose (especially men, hate to say it), do wrong — and it makes them unable to really receive the benefits of the practice.
Once you’re sure your downdog is in good shape, cruise through my Beginner Yoga Playlist for other classes. All of those are fair game. My “Yoga Fixes” showing common misalignments and how to fix them would be another good series to watch. Each fix video is only 60-seconds.
Do you have a few recommended yoga poses specific for disc golfers?
I’d recommend doing shoulder stretches against the wall. I could list out some additional pose names, but without proper instruction and alignment I’m not sure how much that will help. Instead, I’m linking here to a video all about stretching the shoulders against the wall (warning: it is really intense, in a good way). This is a video that actually part of one my paid course and not public on Youtube, but making it available for your readers here.
Lastly, tell us about your “Beginner Yoga Jumpstart” video series available on your website.
Yes – this is a beginner program that’s available on my app or on my website for $49. It’s a 6 day program (plus two bonus classes) that are each 15 – 20 minutes. I personally, am addicted to exercise. Most beginner yoga programs are slow and boring in my opinion. So with the jumpstart program, I designed a way to get people moving quickly and safely while teaching them the key poses in yoga through osmosis. What’s unique is that the classes build on one another, and are a great refreshing workout (even though they are beginner level).
Also included in the course are 6 audio files from me in which I go deeper into explaining what yoga is all about and motivate you to make your yoga practice a habit. The idea here is that I get “in your head” a bit more than a regular teacher could.
There’s also an option to buy this kit with blocks and a video explaining how to use the blocks throughout your practice. Not to harp on how awesome blocks are, but especially for people with active shoulders, blocks are invaluable because they help you firm your shoulder blades down the back in all of yoga’s key poses. So start doing yoga, and if you’re enjoying it, make getting blocks your next step.
A huge thank you for taking the time to speak with us today!
Thank you so much for having me for this interview and I’ll see you in class on Youtube soon!