The final pairings at Sunday afternoon’s U.S. Open is fortunate that I didn’t find my inner golf Budda until just the last couple of months.
Otherwise, that freakin’ trophy would be mine.
In my mind’s eye, I’ve played these 18 holes at the Olympic Club in San Francisco over the last three days, and I’m 22-under going into today’s final round.
How’d your card lookin’, Tiger?
Sorry, but I’m so yoga’d up right now, even I’m envious of my own near-perfected auspicious pose.
The whole purpose to get into a yoga fitness routine as a New Year’s resolution only came after finally dispelling the belief that this was something stay-at-home moms did to kill a few hours between trips to Starbucks.
My original idea of staying in shape was about getting more time on the exercise equipment, not in that sweaty glass room with the hardwood floor and the smelly mats with someone yelling at me to chaturanga.
Yet, it was sharping the mind through mediation, not medication, that became the most enlightening byproduct.
It’s not a stretch to say this all kind of started with a book I came across, “Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude,” by Neal Pollack. It revealed how yoga could be as a difference maker in other parts of my life.
Like, of all places, golf.
The other day, I’m at the first tee, forgetting everything I’ve learned to this point: A tense, tight grip, no warmups, a rushed swing, ball skulled into the fairway about 30 yards left.
Second tee: A deep breath in through the nose. Inhale. A deep exhale. Body is calm, loose, fluid. Swing is natural.
Ball go far. Straight.
What a 5-Hour Energy Drink may do to activating a brain stuck in sleep mode, yoga is the performance enhancing drudge you never saw coming. It’s so obvious now.
A crescent moon, to a t-pose, to a one-legged dog down into a cobra, and your back becomes loose, your shoulders less tense, your awareness more intense.
“There’s no competition in yoga,” my instructor said. “You go at your own pace. The only things that matter are breath and feel. Listen to your body.”
It’s not child’s play to retreat to a child’s pose. Rest and revive.
“Inhale and stretch your arms back,” she continues. “Exhale and press your arms forward. Chin parallel to your head. Soften the jaw. . . . twist your spine to the right. Exhale, twist to center.”
For cryin’ out loud, she’s created the perfect golf swing. In the perfect mindset.
Yogi Berra once said that baseball was 90 percent mental, and the other half was physical. This makes sense to me now.
Because my yogi was telling me so.
Athletes today, especially the younger, remain far more open minded in making yoga a vital part of their routine. Former Dodgers outfielder Shawn Green recently wrote a book about it, “The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph.”
Andre Ethier understands it.
“I got away from it for a few years, but I started it again last summer when I was rehabbing my knee,” the Dodgers All-Star right fielder admitted the other day. “I don’t think you can call it a fad when it’s been around for hundreds of years.”
And now, he’s made millions of dollars from it.
“Embrace this joyfully,” the instructor continues. “Peace and harmony with the body and mind.”
Golfing is tough enough when you’re trying to keep your master eye on the ball with progressive trifocal lenses. Your eye glasses are better made for you to read things, such as this other book I discovered: “Buddha Plays 18: Instantly Improve Your Golf Game Using Tips From The Great Master,” by Edward Sarkis Balian, a San Diego-based songwriter, musician, photographer and author with a Ph.D. in education.
“Once you are fully ‘self-realized’ and have attained enlightenment or Nirvana, you will be so perfect that you won’t even need a ‘physical-ness’ at all,” he writes on page 109. “You will have transcended all that is life or golf. Then and only then will your every shot be a perfect hole-in-one – but even that won’t matter anymore. You will be forever ‘at one’ with the golf ball.”
That’s not the kind of stuff you find in a fortune cookie.
In my head, there’ll never be another snowman on my scorecard as I star down a dog-leg left on a 471-yard par 4.
Reality, of course, can get in the way. Like a line of pine trees.
But that’s life. Recognize it, and stay within yourself.
I see the par 5 17 at Olympic. Tiger Woods sends his second shot onto the green the other day, thinking he’s in for a possible double-eagle. The ball rolls. And rolls. And rolls. Off the green, down the slope, 30 years away. Tiger nearly throws his club.
His ego got the best of him, Buddha would say.
Don’t get nasty. Get Namaste.