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Esther Gokhale's blog

How to Do a Plank Correctly

April, 2018

Good posture is so important for any workout or athletic endeavor. Exercise of the day: planks!

People often lose their structural integrity by dropping their hips and letting their lower back arch, or by tucking their pelvis, rounding their back, and pushing their shoulders forward.


Left: Poor form marked by dropped hips and arched back. Right: Poor form marked by rounded back and forward shoulders.

 

It does take more work for your abdominal muscles, particularly your internal obliques, to maintain proper form...but when you're planking, isn't that what you're going for?? Don't fool yourself into thinking you're getting a better workout by doing a longer plank with bad form!

... Read more

Hip-hinges: 4 exercises in 1. Time spent: 0 seconds

April, 2018

I sometimes tell my students that if you bend well you are unlikely to have a back problem, and if you bend poorly you are almost certainly going to have a back problem. It’s almost that simple. Of course there are other important techniques to learn, like how to sit, stand, sleep, and walk, but bending is a particularly important technique, and learning to bend well constitutes a major milestone in our Gokhale Method Foundations course.

Most of us do many bends a day — each bend is an opportunity to benefit your structure, or destroy it. Turn each bend into a hip-hinge! You will preserve your discs, spinal ligaments, and knees instead of wearing and tearing them. You also get the following exercises taken care of:

  1. Stretch your hamstrings

  2. ... Read more

The 'Myth' of Good Posture — REALLY?!

March, 2018

A recent Guardian article and BBC program (13:30–20:30 minutes) discussed the “myth of good posture,” and two main takeaways from these pieces were that comfort trumps posture and that good posture includes an S-shaped spine. We’d like to respond.

Our culture is confused about posture. When you have back pain you want to navigate to the best solution quickly. What you don’t want is to get lost in a landscape of incomplete and conflicting information, poor advice, bias, and historical baggage.

Over time, experience and good research will generally clarify matters. A good example of this is the sweeping change in the advice given to people recovering from heart disease. Back in the 1930s, the standard advice following a heart attack was 6 weeks of lying... Read more

How to Rest When There’s Nothing to Rest On

March, 2018

You’re on a long hike, and it’s been a while since you began. Your surroundings are beautiful, and you want to take a moment to soak it all in. But, there’s nothing nearby to sit on and the ground is damp. What do you do?

 


Resting up for the next all-out effort.

 

The best restorative position I know for these situations is the isometric resting position that includes hip-hinging to park your hands on your knees with straight elbows. Steps to relief: hinge your back, place the heel of each hand on its respective knee, lock your elbows, permit your shoulders to hike up in a slack manner, relax your belly, let your pelvis nest between your legs, and rest. This resting position counterbalances some different parts of your body and requires almost as little muscular effort as reclining in a chair or... Read more

Grateful for My Garden

February, 2018

When I first came to this country in 1975, I had gardening on my mind. My family in India had just moved from Mumbai to Pune, where it became possible to plant a garden, and my mother was full of plans for this new adventure. Her excitement was infectious and I also became keen on gardening. As an exchange student, I started a garden in my host family’s plot. Later, when my husband and I moved to Stanford, I cultivated a communal plot at Escondido Village. In our first condominium/home, I spent several years working the very clay soil that is the legacy of every Bay Area homeowner. My efforts came to a standstill when I herniated my L5-S1 disc in the ninth month of my first pregnancy. Not only could I not think about gardening, I was also unable to pick up a cooking pot, sleep, or, worst of all, pick up my baby.

It took me several years to figure out what had caused my problem, how to solve it, and develop enough confidence to have two more children. With the additions... Read more

Lessons I Learned from My Travels: Burkina Faso

January, 2018

OUAHIGOUYA, BURKINA FASO

 

The cradle of mankind is also the cradle of healthy movement and posture.

It has become increasingly clear from the archaelogical record that Africa is the cradle of mankind. In modern times, Africa is the place that has the best-preserved primal posture. Visitors marvel, appropriately, at the carriage of women carrying large loads on their heads, and at the elegant gait of men and women as they traverse long distances to go about their business. It’s a wise move to follow behind someone who you perceive to have good posture / movement mechanics, turn your brain off (and sometimes on) and let each part of you—legs, torso, neck, arms—mimic the corresponding part in your “teacher.” This was a technique I used to learn many details of healthy movement.

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How to Sit on a Sofa with Good Posture

January, 2018

One regular challenge you are likely to face in your posture journey is the battle against the oversized sofa. Here are some tips to help you maintain good form and stay pain-free when relaxing on a sofa.

Want to avoid the habitual curled, tucked position that most couches seem to encourage? Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.

 

Stretchsitting

Your first line of defense against a deep, soft couch should be stretchsitting. This will make your seated time therapeutic as well as relaxing. Some couches, made of fabric with some degree of friction and having seats that aren’t too deep, may not be difficult to stretchsit on. If you’re lucky, you can simply hook yourself up against the back of the sofa. However, many couches are too deep to allow... Read more

Are Your Clothes Helping Your Posture?

December, 2017

Students of the Gokhale Method sometimes find that their new upright, relaxed posture makes clothes fit better. Tailored clothes, however, sometimes fit worse, restricting motion and bunching up in awkward places. Here are some items to watch out for, and how to test their fit:

 

Jeans - Cut to Tuck?

Tucking the pelvis is so widespread in modern societies that most jeans and pants are designed around this posture. Fashion models tuck, teenagers tuck (sometimes highlighting this stance with sagging pants!), and even fitness instructors tuck and teach their students to tuck.

Jeans cut to fit a tucked pelvis are more symmetric front to back. They lack room for well-developed glutes (buttock muscles). The belt line tends to be horizontal. The fabric over the groin/hip area lacks a crease, and tends to fall in a vertical plane between the abdomen and the front of the thigh.

... Read more

Reading Without Pain

December, 2017

The weather is colder (even here in California) and most of us are spending more time indoors for warmth and entertainment. I especially like to spend time reading in bed, where I can pile on the blankets and enjoy the coziness of fall and winter. If you experience pain or discomfort—especially in your neck—when you read in bed, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Any time you are sitting or lying down can be an opportunity to decompress the vertebrae in your back. To keep the right shape in the spine, build a staircase of pillows to support your lower back, mid-back and neck


Using a combination of thick and thin pillows makes it easy to build a comfortable slope or staircase.

Lying down with just your head and neck on a plump pillow pushes your head forward relative to your torso. This... Read more

Announcing PostureSensei™, the New Gokhale Method Wearable!

November, 2017

Our new and exciting PostureSensei wearable is available for use! Our participating teachers use this technology to help you:

  1. Store baselines of the shape of your spine in sitting, standing, and bending

  2. Understand the connection between your movements and changes in the shape of your spine

  3. Establish a target shape for you to aim for in training your posture

  4. Discover techniques, exercises, and activities to help you improve your target shape

  5. Track your changes over time, using graphics and quantitative measurements of the curves in your lower back
     

Our test students love PostureSensei and... Read more