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When Is It Good to Pull Back Your Shoulders?

October, 2019

This is the second post in our series on shoulder positioning. Read Part 1 here!


Typing with shoulders too far forward.

Often, in industrialized cultures, the shoulders are slumped or held forward. There are so many daily tasks in the modern world that make it all too easy for these bad habits to set in: holding our arms out front for hours with poor shoulder placement while we are typing, gaming, driving, and so on. Over the years this is likely to cause various problems:

  • Impingement, bursitis, wear-and-tear

  • Reduced circulation to the arms 

  • Compromised breathing patterns

  • Reduced athletic

  • ... Read more

Your Most Striking Posture Feature: Shoulder Position

October, 2019


The arm and shoulder of this African carpenter align with the back of his torso.

One of the most striking features of good posture is the position of the shoulders. The posture of this African carpenter shows how, with the shoulders well back, the arms align more with the back of the body than the front. The side of the chest and ribcage are clearly visible. Positioning the shoulders well brings you many benefits. It aligns your shoulder joint correctly, avoiding impingement, bursitis, arthritis, tendinitis, and general wear and tear. It improves circulation to your arms, as well as your breathing pattern. Optimal shoulder positioning improves athletic performance: throwing, punching, and swinging a racket or bat are all mechanically advantaged when your shoulders remain “home.” And last but... Read more

A Talk with Danny Dreyer of ChiRunning

September, 2019

I first met Danny Dreyer, the founder of ChiRunning, in 2018 when we were both leading workshops at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. Danny and his assistant teachers were leading their students outdoors in Nature in an engaging and enjoyable activity. It struck me that this could be a beneficial next step for Gokhale Method students who have overcome their pain and injuries.

Running, for those able to do it, has a particular draw, since it is a natural activity and such an efficient way to get exercise in a busy world. The model populations that inspire the Gokhale Method (children, non-industrialized people, hunter-gatherers), run regularly.

So I was intrigued by what Danny Dreyer offers: a systematic program on how to run with less injury and more enjoyment. In the... Read more

How to Sit on the Floor, Part 3: Sitting with Legs Outstretched

September, 2019

This is the third post in our multi-part series on floor-sitting. Read Part 1 on floor sitting and Part 2 on squatting!

It’s very common for women in Africa to sit with their legs outstretched. I’ve seen rows of women use this position to spin yarn, engage in idle chatter, sort items, and more. I’ve seen babies massaged by women using this position both in Burkina Faso and in the U.S. by a visiting Indian masseuse who does traditional baby massage in Surat, India. In Samiland I saw this position used to bake bread in a lavoo (a Sami structure very similar to a teepee).

... Read more

Glidewalking: Sitting’s Long-Lost Counterpart

August, 2019

 


Mother and son in a tribal Orissan village demonstrating excellent walking form. Notice that their heels remain on the floor well into their stride.

Do you have tight psoas muscles? Do you suspect the cause is too much time spent sitting in your daily life? There’s a complementary activity that helps counterbalance the time we spend sitting: walking — or, more specifically, glidewalking. Glidewalking helps balance our sitting in numerous ways — walking is dynamic versus sitting which is static. Yang balances Yin, viewed in the framework of traditional Chinese medicine. One underappreciated way in which walking can balance sitting pertains to the psoas muscle.

... Read more

Improving Your Neck Placement: a New Metaphor

July, 2019


Note the forward head and neck placement of both these High Street pedestrians. This usually results from tucking the pelvis (see the man (right)), but can also become a habit independent of pelvic position (see woman (left)).

 


Here our Bristol teacher Clare Chapman has digitally edited the photo to demonstrate how different healthier posture can look. Compare these subjects’ edited neck placement and spinal curvature with that in the original picture.

Metaphors can be powerful tools for learning new kinesthetic pathways. A metaphor packages a picture (which, we all know, can be worth 1000 words!) as well as some helpful... Read more

Journey with Joan Baez

July, 2019


Feeling happy after a lesson. 

If you ask Joan Baez what keeps her in good enough shape to do worldwide musical tours at age 78, she will hand you a little brown card that says “Esther Gokhale, Creator of the Gokhale Method.”


My wooden business card.

Joan has used various kinds of bodywork throughout her career. Music tours invariably involve bumpy bus rides, late-night performances, uncomfortable beds, and other challenges to the human frame, and Joan, like most seasoned musicians, has experienced her share of neck and back strain. Joan lives in California, the mecca of massage therapists, chiropractors,... Read more

How to Sit on the Floor, Part 2: Squatting

June, 2019

This is the second post in our multi-part series on floor sitting. For Part 1 on floor sitting, click here.

Why squat? Squatting isn’t something we do much in industrialized societies beyond childhood, but if you can do it healthfully, it is an eminently practical posture for resting the body while keeping the backside elevated off the ground and the clothing clean, as this woman from Orissa demonstrates.


This woman from Orissa demonstrates a healthy, full squat with foot arches intact and a long, straight spine.

It is also the posture used for toilet activities in places with floor toilets, a trend which has recently made its way to the industrialized realm in the... Read more

Why Does the Oldest Chinese Buddha Figure Slump?

June, 2019

 


The oldest surviving dated Chinese Buddha figure shows surprisingly slumped posture. Note the forward head, absence of a stacked spine, and tucked pelvis. He would not look out of place with a smartphone in his hand!

This surprisingly hunched Chinese Buddha figure is the oldest dated Chinese Buddha figure that has survived into modern times. The inscription on its base dates it to 338 AD, 500 years after Buddhism came to China from India. Compare the Chinese Buddha figure with this Indian Buddha figure from roughly 800-1000 AD…
 


This North Indian Buddha figure from the post-Gupta period (7th - 8th century AD) shows... Read more

Improving Your Neck Placement: a New Technique

May, 2019

I’ve taught stretchlying on the side for decades. So it’s a (welcome) surprise to discover a way of arranging the neck that is both more effective in adding additional neck length and more relaxing for the neck muscles.

 


It takes good form to be able to get rest on a surface this hard.
 


In July, reindeer herders in Samiland corral their reindeer to mark the ears of the unbranded calves. This involves stretches of waiting, some of it done reclining on the side, as above.

 

To date, I’ve taught... Read more