Learning and internalizing techniques doesn’t always happen immediately — or without assistance from a teacher.
I spent many years developing and perfecting the Gokhale Method Foundations Course. After years of crafting the language, honing the metaphors, and rearranging the order in which techniques are taught, I considered the course well-constructed and comprehensive. I was proud to empower students to be independent in taking their posture journey forward. I was proud to not be peddling products gratuitously, nor to insist students keep coming back for additional lessons.
The results of this approach were not always stellar. Though some students functioned just fine after one go-round of a full 6-lesson Foundations Course, most students, not surprisingly, needed ongoing repetition to “get it” in their minds, their bodies, and their memory.
The example that brought this point home vividly involved a student who is a physician. She had undergone one back surgery and was scheduled for another. She had extreme sciatic pain that made her want to lie down as much as possible. Driving herself anywhere was impossible, so she hired someone to drive her to her private clinic, where she worked the few 2-3 hours her pain levels would allow, and then was driven home again.
Physicians are among the many groups whose work environments can predispose them to posture issues, especially when they tuck their pelvises or stoop over patients or computers. This doctor in Angola, likely because of healthy cultural modeling, demonstrates the lovely upright bearing that’s possible (and desirable) in this context. Image courtesy Francisco Venâncio on Unsplash.
After working on the basic techniques in a few private lessons, she was able to reduce her pain level to 0 and cancel her scheduled surgery. She followed up with some recommended maintenance lessons and then let the lessons come to a halt.
A year later she made an appointment during which I was shocked to find her in approximately the same condition she first came in with. I probed gently to discover what had happened. It emerged that one of her patients, a fitness instructor, had invited her to a weekly fitness class. Over time, she had conformed to tucking her pelvis as instructed. In the process of relating the story to me, a realization dawned on her: “Oh yeah, that’s what caused my troubles last time…” Wow. In listening to her a parallel realization dawned on me. Here was a highly-trained medical professional who had gone from being in a dire situation to being completely pain-free, and still the teaching had not held.
That was when I realized we needed a maintenance program. It’s obvious in hindsight, of course. Adults especially can feel that new information doesn’t “stick” because it gets harder to learn as you get older. I suspect that we actually overlook just how much repetition we did to learn most things when we were younger! That’s why we took over a thousand lessons in school in Math and English! If you have learned to play golf or do certain dances, how many times have you practised that swing, or rehearsed those steps? Learning takes exposure and repetition. It works.
We see some students returning to our classes after gaps of many years, and, like the physician, in that time they have often been culturally “reprogrammed” to tuck the pelvis, to slump, or to sway. We also see clearly that the forgetting curve is very real, and how easy it is to backslide into old habits. When we teach these alumni alongside more recent graduates whom we advised better about the need for revision and follow-up classes, the difference is very obvious. Humans simply learn better with repetition, and the Gokhale Method is no exception to this rule.
A great benefit of the Gokhale Method is the sheer variety of mediums available to reinforce and diversify the learning process.
To meet this need, consider refreshing the material or switching up the format. For example, all of our qualified teachers offer private lessons to alumni. It's surprising how much can be learned in a single lesson once the basics have been covered. If you've taken a Pop-up Course, consider taking a 6-lesson Gokhale Method Foundations Course — or vice versa; if you've taken a group course, consider taking a private lesson. Retreat programs at locations like Esalen Institute, Omega Institute, Kripalu, and 1440 Multiversity are helpful for newcomers and alumni alike and offer the opportunity to learn in a restorative, memorable setting. And some of our teachers offer small-group continuing education classes. All of these are rewarding pathways for relearning and refining the basic techniques, and coming away with different takeaways.
Working with students and actively helping them learn is a great joy for me and our many other Gokhale Method teachers.
Regardless of which specific new tack you choose, we recommend taking your first refresher class within 1-2 months of graduating from the Gokhale Method Foundations Course or the Pop-up Course. The next refresher happens best within 3 months of the first one. From then on we recommend doing an in-person session — private or group — at least every six months, and sooner if there are still significant challenges. Working in-person with a teacher is always best, but if that’s not possible, a session can be scheduled online, which is surprisingly helpful for troubleshooting and keeping your own known posture challenges on your radar. So if you are one of our Foundations Course or Pop-up Course alumni, schedule that session! Our experienced teachers are ready to help.
Hands-on learning with a Gokhale Method teacher helps students refine and refresh the techniques, whether they’re just beginning their posture journey or whether it’s been years since their first lesson.
We have also created an Online University which includes 2 Live Chats with me every month and unlimited access to our on-demand library of over 60 instructional videos. Each lesson focuses on a specific posture topic, such as Beyond Stacksitting, Cooking with Healthy Posture, Foot Health, Yoga with Healthy Posture, dance, exercise routines, and so on. You are then able to revise and extend your posture expertise at any time for an entire year. Now wouldn’t that be a great idea for 2020?
If you are one of our Foundations Course or Pop-up Course alumni, you can sample a free session of Online University content here. And from now through December 20, 2019, all of our alumni can save $100 on a year-long Online University membership! You must call our support team at 1-888-557-6788 to receive this special rate.
We wish you a peaceful holiday season filled with good posture!