I have a rather long and somewhat sordid history with the game of golf. I learned it at a young age, put the game away while raising a family, and have been back at it for the last decade, flirting with the high single and low double digit handicapped numbers.
Three of my brothers and I have played in an annual golf tournament out here in Oregon for several years. I’m fortunate to have brothers that are really good golfers and each year they allow me to tag along, carry the clubs, buy the beer, and even sink a long putt once in awhile. We’ve actually won the “scramble” format of this tournament several years.
This last Friday, we teed it up for another few hours of brother bashing, a little smash mouthing with the friendly competitors, good food, good cause and great weather. About half way through the round, one of my brothers commented…”You know, you’ve hit every drive right down the middle…when did you start doing that?” After the round, another brother asked “You been getting lessons or something?” In fact, due to my rather hectic schedule, I’ve been playing much less golf this year than in the last several. And playing much better. Why?
To get to the point, I have noticed the direct correlation between my golf game and my Nia practice. I know, I can hear that little voice in your head screaming…What? For all you non-Nia golfing folks, it’s pronounced knee-ah, and not to worry, you’ve not accidentally linked to a Nia infomercial. BUT, if you’re like me, and share a little more than casual interest in improving your golf game you just might want to hear me out.
I’m not a golf professional, not an avid amateur and I do not claim to be any expert on the golf swing. I am far from any kind of health guru, in fact, I still indulge in the occasional hostess cupcakes. I’m a middle-aged guy that suffers from sports injuries far more frequently than I used to. (btw–for me, even getting out of bed can sometimes bring about a sports injury). I was a guy who wanted to go for an occasional bike ride, take an occasional jog around the track, or play a round of golf without sustaining an injury or paying the price of any pain for the next few days.
For those of you new to my blog, I came Nia because of a hip injury that prevented me from doing most any kind of athletic activity. My sister-in-law, Laurie, convinced me to give Nia a try. Long story short, until my hip surgery, Nia was the ONLY activity that gave me a physical work out and not cause me days of pain. Turns out, what has become my own Nia practice has brought so much more enjoyment to life…and yes, more enjoyment to my golf game.
I have books, swing aids and tapes on the secrets to the perfect golf swing. I could easily hold a conversation with you on the mechanics of the golf swing: the grip, the take away, the swing plane, alignment at the top, weight distribution, the turn in the barrel, the sway (bad), the steady head (good), the trail elbow in, the inside/out plane, and on and on and on. Trust me when I tell you that none of those books, aids, tapes, ever benefited me as much as some of the benefits I get from my Nia practice. Let me share just a few and see if any of them resonate with the golfer in you.
Nia: An hour of movement. Movement blending the martial arts, dance arts, and healing arts to soulful, rhythmic music. If you stepped into a class with me for 5 minutes, you might be doing moves borrowed from Tai-Chi, Tae-Kwan-Doe, Aikido, Jazz dance, Modern dance, Yoga, or maybe even from Moshe Feldenkrais. (for more details on Nia, head over to lauriebass.com, or nianow.com) Over time, here is what I have noticed:
- Better physical balance: Do you not have a better golf swing if you are in balance in your movement?
- Body awareness: Let’s just pick one part of the body…the hands. I can now tell you exactly where my hands are at any point in my golf swing. At half way through by back swing. At the top of my back swing. At the point of impact (really nice). At follow through. Gee, could this help your golf swing.
- Tempo (rhythm, dance): I’m still surprised when I hear people say, I can’t do that, I have no rhythm. Ok, first of all, we are born with rhythm, we just don’t use it so as adults, we figure we don’t have it. Let go of that belief. Nia will simply help you re-discover your rhythm. Good golfers have good rhythm.
- Relaxed power vs. strength: Love the martial arts…I’ve learned the power that comes from being relaxed. Who doesn’t want to hit the ball with some solid power…Nia helps you learn to relax and yet move with relaxed power.
- Focus/Zen/finding the “Joy” in golf (Life as Art): One of the great things I’ve discovered in Nia, is seeing something, anything, and changing my perspective until I see the beauty in it. There are days when my golf swing may not be the vision of beauty that I would like it to be. That’s more than ok, cause I’m going to discover something in my swing, in my round, in the green landscape that is beautiful. And that will bring just a little joy to my heart.
Have I packed my bags and headed for the tour? No, but my Nia practice has brought me more fairways, more greens in regulation, better scores, and just much more joy on the course.
Am I trying to convince you to try this? Well, as my sister-in law shared with me when I was dealing with my injured hip…what have you got to lose?
Whatever you choose to do this week….for heavens sake….Have fun….Fred