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Many people spend hours focusing on conditioning the body but forget that the mind and the spirit need to be conditioned as well. We need both a physical and mental workout to achieve the balance that is needed for enjoying a life full of vitality and joy.

Two techniques to help you relax and feel more in synch with yourself are relaxation breathing and meditation.

Breathing (effective in reducing anxiety, panic attacks, depression, irritability, muscle tension, headaches, fatigue).

When we breathe we generally use one of two patterns: chest or thoracic breathing and abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing. Sedentary people or people with a lot of stress generally use chest or thoracic breathing; chest breathing is shallow and often irregular and rapid. This type of breathing can be a turn-on for your body's stress response. On the other hand, abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing can reduce the body's muscle tension and help to create a relaxation response.

To give yourself a quick check to see which way you are breathing, close your eyes and place one hand on your abdomen near the waistline, and the other hand on the center of your chest. Which hand rises the most as you inhale? If the abdomen rises, then you are breathing from your abdomen or diaphragm. If your abdomen doesn't move or moves less than your chest, you are breathing from your chest.

Here is an example of relaxation breathing: In a standing or sitting position, inhale deeply. Your diaphragm will push your abdomen slightly upward, creating room for the air. Imagine you are blowing up a balloon. Hold your breath a few seconds, then slowly exhale as your abdomen slightly contracts. The exhalation is twice the length of the inhalation.

Some exercises that could improve your golf game

Standing push-ups

(improves posture and upper-body strength)

Place hands shoulder-width apart as you lean against a wall, desk or counter top; walk your feet out until heels are off the floor. As you bend the elbows, lower your upper body downward toward your hands; then push up, using your upper body as resistance. Do not arch your back. This exercise is similar to a push-up.

Triceps extension

(works the back of the upper arm _ triceps; this muscle group is used in your follow-through)

Lying on a mat, cross one leg over bent knee. It helps keep back flat on floor. Holding weights overhead near the floor with palms facing forward, raise arms to shoulder level; return arms toward floor and repeat.

Chair squats

(strengthens the large muscles of the lower body)

Sit in a chair with hands crossed in front of shoulders, placing feet about shoulder-width apart. Slowly stand up while contracting buttocks; return to original sitting position. If you want more resistance, hold light weights.

Tips

Warm up with some easy movement before beginning the exercises.

Do not arch your back with any of the movements.

Perform each movement slowly.

Do not lock your elbows or knees.

Begin with one set of eight to 10 repetitions; increase to two sets of eight to 10 reps.

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