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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

"I Found I Could Defeat Sciatica:" Norm's Story

May, 2019


Photo courtesy Norman Crawford.

Norm, a hydrologic analyst and author now 82 years of age, originally hails from Alberta, Canada. When Norm was 16 years old, he accepted a summer job in Lake Louise (also known as Lake of the Little Fishes by the local Stoney Nakoda people), a location in the Canadian Rockies so known for its rugged beauty that it is frequently included on lists of “Wonders of the World.” This breathtaking landscape formed the backdrop for Norm’s lifelong love affair with the outdoors. Decades later, Norm still speaks of Lake Louise with understated reverence.


Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, where Norm first fell in love with... Read more

Is Belly Breathing Good for You?

April, 2019

It’s common for students to arrive at our classes with strong notions about breathing. Among these is “Belly breathing is good breathing; chest breathing is bad breathing.” I disagree with this widespread belief and present varying amounts of pushback, counterargument, or hints about disagreement depending on the context and how much time I have.


Top: Chest lowered with exhalation. Bottom: Chest expanded with inhalation.

Sometimes I use a hand-waving argument: “Your lungs are housed in your chest; why wouldn’t they expand the chest on inhalation?” Sometimes I argue that if just the belly expands on breathing, that’s usually because the abdominal wall muscles are lax, the long back muscles (erector... Read more

"It's Really Quite Phenomenal:" Cecilia's Story

April, 2019

Cecilia* didn’t expect to develop disabilities in her early 40s. She had led an active life, working as an academic in a competitive field and enjoying intense activities such as rock climbing, camping, hiking, kayaking, Iyengar yoga, Crossfit, and running. She even flew glider planes for fun. In her own words, she has an “extreme personality” — she pushes herself hard in life and seeks out challenging situations, whether working or playing.

 


Cecilia describes herself as an “extreme personality” and once enjoyed such intense outdoor pastimes as rock climbing, among others. This all changed once she began a law degree and bar exam preparations. Photo courtesy... Read more

How to Sit on the Floor, Part 1: Cross-legged Sitting

March, 2019

This is the first post in our multi-part series on floor sitting. For Part 2 on squatting, click here.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor is common in many cultures around the world, and has become popular in some segments of modern Western societies.

 


This Druze woman who I met in Israel has sat cross-legged all her life. She runs a hospitality business — all the food is laid out on the floor and the guests sit along the periphery of the room. She is at ease in this position for extended periods with her back remaining upright and relaxed.
 


In this temple in Bhubaneswar,... Read more

Baby Massage, Traditional Indian Style

March, 2019

My students sometimes lead me to particularly juicy nuggets that enrich my understanding of posture-related practices in other cultures. Sometimes they simply send me a link to an article; sometimes it is an introduction to a special person. Recently, my private Gokhale Method Foundations Course student Alpana informed me that her friend had a visitor I might be interested in meeting. She was right.

Two days later, my daughter Monisha and I showed up at Nirmala’s host’s home in Saratoga. I was immediately struck by the woman’s presence, regal carriage, slender and strong frame, and sparky energy, especially for a 60-year-old. Nirmala does traditional Indian baby and post-natal massage on newly delivered babies and their mothers in Surat, India. She speaks no English. Thanks to Alpana’s fluent Marathi and my broken Hindi, I was able to communicate very effectively with her.

 ... Read more