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What Makes the Gokhale® Exercise Program Special

September, 2023

Taking the daily classes has helped me perfect the practice and really get the nuances. I am now able to accomplish the rib anchor, which I was struggling with. Also, the daily motivation that I get from checking in and feeling the energy from the group—it has just been an amazing opportunity.
Elizabeth Kubicki, Gokhale alumna

Gokhale Method® teacher and editorial writer Clare Chapman explores the When and Why of Gokhale® Exercise with its creator, Esther Gokhale.

Clare: Can you tell us how the Gokhale Exercise program got started?

Esther: For a long time now, our teachers and I have been surprised at how much our alumni—graduates of our courses—can forget. This despite their being delighted by the courses and their results. Of course, it shouldn’t be surprising at all, given that humans have forgetting curves as surely as they have learning curves, and that our beginner courses cover a lot of material in a short time frame. 

Forgetting Curve graph with kind permission from www.organisingstudents.com.au.
The forgetting curve was developed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus and depicts the way learned information falls away over time. Research confirms that, on average, students forget 70 percent of what is taught within 24 hours of a training experience. 90 percent is forgotten within a week. Image: www.organisingstudents.com.au

On January 1, 2020, I decided to try a new format—an online 21-day challenge. Each broadcast was short, reminding alumni of one basic principle of the Gokhale Method that would be familiar, if semi-forgotten. I chose it to be an exercise program to additionally fill the well-understood need for more movement in daily life.

Esther answers a question from Gokhale alumna Elizabeth Kubicki about the posture principle of straightening the back leg in speed walking.

Clare: And before long COVID hit, correct?

Esther: Yes, along with shelter-in-place orders. It became clear people would be stuck in their homes without their usual access to sports and exercise facilities, or their usual interventions for their aches and pains. We had a tested offering whose value had suddenly increased dramatically—it felt important to continue the program, and also to open it up to a wider audience. It gathered a large number of daily participants and evolved to include a great variety of music and dance, art, anatomical education, community and mutual support. Many participants told us that this is what kept their bodies and spirits afloat through the dark period of the pandemic.

Clare: How did Gokhale Exercise evolve its current format?

Esther: Gokhale Exercise started with 1-2-3 Move, which uses dance as the vehicle for posture education and entertainment. It continues to this day without having missed a beat! The 13-minute class is our main program, focusing on 1 posture principle, 2 dance moves, and 3 images. It is preceded by a joyous, free-form, 15-minute Dance Party.

Dance is a human universal, and besides providing a fun way to revisit posture principles, it improves cognition, staves off dementia and depression, brightens spirits and community feeling, and more. Traditional dance is especially true to our ethos of taking lessons from other cultures. Various members of our teacher team contribute: Sabina has deep knowledge of blues and swing styles, Eric loves Latin, and Lang is expert in Capoeira and Brazilian dance moves. My passion is Indian, Brazilian, and Congolese dance​​. . .

Gokhale Exercise has now blossomed into multiple offerings, adding Gokhale Fitness, Moving Meditation, Fitness for Cyclists, and Yoga, with an increasing number of teachers offering their expertise throughout the day. 

Photo compilation of 8 Gokhale Exercise teachers.
Gokhale Exercise teachers enjoy sharing their movement expertise with a “Gokhale filter.” 
Top left to bottom right: Roberta, Julie, Esther, Kathleen, Eric, Sabina, Tiffany, and Lang.

Clare: Can you say more about how these different forms of exercise encourage healthy posture?

Esther: Every 1-2-3 Move class uses traditional rather than modern dance moves. This comes with a level of reassurance about their suitability for the human body; we know these moves have been vetted by entire populations who didn’t have modern pain. 

Gokhale® Yoga, Moving Meditation and Gokhale® Fitness also explore posture principles that are not emphasized or respected in the average class: anchored ribs, recruiting the inner corset, kidney-bean shaped feet, etc. Respecting the body’s natural blueprint enables us to increase fitness, strength, and flexibility without risking injury. 

Across all the classes we follow a Posture Principle of the day—for example, Healthy Rotation of the Torso—so whichever class(es) students participate in, they get the range of healthy posture reminders they need at regular intervals. 

Gokhale Exercise email image of Cornell baseball player.
Each Gokhale Exercise email comes with a daily Posture Principle image to remind and inspire. This vintage baseball illustration shows healthy rotation of the torso while keeping good form throughout the body.

Clare: Who attends the Gokhale Exercise program?

Esther: Classes span a variety of pace and challenge, so for example, our Gokhale Moving Meditation classes are gentle enough for even the most physically challenged members of the community, while Gokhale Fitness pushes almost everybody’s boundaries (while giving easier modifications of the exercises offered). 

Clare: Is the Gokhale Exercise program suitable for beginners?

Esther: The ideal starting point for beginners is to take one of our comprehensive courses (the in-person Foundations course, or one-day Pop-up course, or our online Elements course). This is especially true for those suffering pain or dysfunction. In these courses, students can learn with optimal sequencing and detail, and get the one-on-one attention they need. For students who would like a free introduction to the Gokhale Method we recommend signing up for an in-person or online free workshop. For comprehensive personal advice, consider taking an in-person or online Initial Consultation to determine which course is best for you. 

Many people start with the Gokhale Exercise program because it has a free trial week and costs very little thereafter—we are glad to be able to provide this service for people who cannot afford our courses or who are curious to see what our offerings are like. Having the program open to the public also means that alumni can invite their friends and family members along to try it without any obligations.

If you have never taken a Gokhale Method course 7-day Free Trial  

If you have taken a Foundations, Pop-Up or Elements course Free Month Online University

If you have never taken a Gokhale Method course 7-day Free Trial  

Clare: What is next for the Gokhale Exercise Program?

Esther: We want all our students to have a minimum of one month’s live support, available every day, as they approach the end of their courses. So we are delighted to announce that all our valued alumni—from the in-person Foundations, Pop-up, or online Elements courses—will be gifted a free month’s membership of our Online University, which includes the Gokhale Exercise program! This offer extends to all past, present, and future students. 

If you have taken a Foundations, Pop-Up or Elements course Free Month Online University

Online University member Claire Phillips explains how membership has inspired her progress.

In addition to Gokhale Exercise, our Online University additionally offers two 45-minute Live Chats every month with me, Esther Gokhale. Topics include flexibility, the human spine, posture and emotional health, to squat or not to squat, and more. There is also unlimited access to our On-Demand Video Library of over 60 topics including advanced posture techniques and practical applications like gardening, cooking, etc.

Clare: Thanks Esther, Gokhale Exercise is an inspiring and continuing journey!

FREE 10-Day Back to Basics Challenge

Alumni often tell us they get a lot of benefit from reviewing the basics—so we are also offering an exciting Back to Basics Challenge, designed for alumni, but also open to beginners, as part of our 1-2-3 Move program and starting September 26 for 10 days.

Here is the Challenge:

Each class will review a different Posture Principle, with exercises for practice and challenge. We have prepared a downloadable booklet for participants to print and journal their postural changes and progress. 

How to take part:

Online University and Gokhale Exercise members automatically qualify for this challenge—their daily emails will tell them about it. 

People who have not yet taken a Gokhale Method course and who are therefore not alumni are also welcome to join, and listen in to the Q&A sessions by signing up to our Gokhale Exercise program with a monthly subscription—with our free trial you can test it without any obligations.

For newcomers 7-day Free Trial

For alumni (you have taken a Foundations, Pop-Up or Elements course): Free Month Online University

For newcomers 7-day Free Trial

For alumni (you have taken a Foundations, Pop-Up or Elements course): Free Month Online University

We look forward to seeing both new and familiar faces! 

Gokhale Method alumnus Ben Bernstein PhD appreciates daily reminders of what to work on.

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Upcoming Workshops

Sturdy, Upright, and Tall: Posture for Aging

Date and time: Friday, September 22, 2023
11:00am

Pacific Time

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Esther Gokhale

Revolutionize Your Wellness through Posture

Date and time: Monday, September 25, 2023
10:30am

Pacific Time

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Esther Gokhale

Upper Back Pain Relief with the Gokhale Method

Date and time: Wednesday, September 27, 2023
7:00am

Pacific Time

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Esther Gokhale
Introduction to The Gokhale Method and Living Pain-Free
Date and time: Wednesday, September 27, 2023
8:00pm

Asia/Jerusalem

Open spots: Open
Language: Hebrew
Teacher: Michal Tal
Introduction to The Gokhale Method and Living Pain-Free
Date and time: Sunday, October 01, 2023
10:00am

Europe/Paris

Open spots: Open
Language: French
Teacher: Michal Tal
Introduction to The Gokhale Method and Living Pain-Free
Date and time: Tuesday, October 03, 2023
10:00am

Asia/Jerusalem

Open spots: Open
Language: Hebrew
Teacher: Michal Tal

Wake up Your Glutes: They Snooze, You Lose

Date and time: Tuesday, October 03, 2023
11:00am

Pacific Time

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Esther Gokhale
Introduction to The Gokhale Method and Living Pain-Free
Date and time: Wednesday, October 11, 2023
11:00am

Pacific Time

Open spots: Open
Language: English
Teacher: Esther Gokhale