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Esther Gokhale's blog

Home Exercises Part 1: Cobra

May, 2021
This blog post is the first in a series featuring some common home exercises. Over the coming year we will put several popular exercises under scrutiny to examine how they stack up—or not—against the principles of healthy posture.  The 1960s to now Some exercises remain very persistent in fitness folklore, handed down through the decades in fitness regimens and by personal trainers and gym instructors. However, just because an exercise attains iconic status does not guarantee it is a healthy exercise.  Read more

Are Muscle Imbalances and Asymmetry Causing My Back Pain?

March, 2021
Many of the questions I hear from students are about concerns they have due to left/right asymmetry in their bodies. People will often see a clearly visible asymmetry as the root cause of any dysfunction and pain. This strikes me as a natural and understandable assumption—but my experience as a posture educator leads me to think there is more to consider here than meets the eye.  Read more

Which Shape is Your Spine?

April, 2021

SCIJ isn’t a very memorable acronym, but the shapes of the letters do accurately represent the four most common spinal shapes. In this blog post you will discover which SCIJ category you belong in, what changes you might want to make, and the first baby steps to improve your spinal shape. Read more

Prime your Spine with Primal Head-loading

February, 2021
We Gokhale Method teachers love our head cushions! I find there is nothing better than head-loading, even with a light weight, to evoke a taller stance, help straighten out excessive neck curvature, and strengthen the deepest of our neck muscles.  The realization that head-loading must have once been a ubiquitous activity hit home in my research travels to Burkina Faso in the 1990s. I began sharing the benefits of head-loading with my students, and devised the Gokhale™ Head Cushion to make it an accessible and convenient exercise.  Read more

Beating Depression with Exercise

January, 2021

It’s no secret that depression and anxiety are rampant these days. So many people worldwide are feeling the effects of the ongoing pandemic, and dealing with its many, varied results, not to mention other stressors. It can seem that there is so little in our lives that we can have influence over, exacerbating feelings of powerlessness and depression.

In addition to the range of standard therapeutic interventions like psychotherapy and medication, there’s something all of us can adopt that will help boost our mood: adding exercise to our routine. Read more

Is Just Showing Up Enough?

January, 2021
A common saying in the United States is “Showing up is half the battle.” I would prefer that to read “Showing up is half the game.” This distinction notwithstanding, the saying speaks to the big difference between giving something a try and opting out of participating at all. But does this lowest-common-denominator approach predispose us toward laziness? And does it cheapen the earnest efforts of others? People make a big deal about perfectly adhering to routines, attending classes (or in pre-COVID times, the gym) daily, etc. As it turns out, however, the imperfect, fuzzy-edged effort has a great deal of value. Learn why in my latest blog post! Read more

How to Not Fail at Your New Year Resolutions

December, 2020

With the approach of the New Year, many people are thinking about resolutions, but the truth about most New Year’s resolutions is that they don’t stick. Or they don’t stick for long. This isn’t on account of personal failure. According to Stanford behavior scientist B.J. Fogg, author of the NY Times bestseller Tiny Habits, the problem is how we humans approach habit formation in the first place. All-or-nothing thinking, such as framing struggles as “failure” and anything short of “perfection” as unacceptable, is a hard line to take with ourselves. Struggling with a new habit is very common and perfection is by its nature unachievable, so identifying with our "failures" ends up preventing growth and keeping us in our comfort zones...or ruts. So what can we do about it? Read more

How to Work Out Smarter, Not Harder

November, 2020
Ah, Thanksgiving. For many of us, it’s a time for gratitude and connection. It’s also a time when many people’s minds turn to exercise to offset the rich and abundant food on the menu. How can we make that extra push, enjoy it, and not injure ourselves in the process? Due to the pandemic, more and more of us are working out at home, without our usual exercise partners or in-person access to recreational facilities. Now’s the perfect time to learn to work out smarter, rather than harder. Read more

How Bad Posture Can Crack Your Teeth — and How to Avoid It

November, 2020
I recently came across a New York Times column by Tammy Chen, DDS, describing the “epidemic of cracked teeth” she’s seen in her patients during the COVID pandemic. Dr. Chen names two suspected culprits: the slumped posture many people adopt while working from home with improvised furniture, and excessive anxiety and stress. Both of these culprits lead to jaw clenching and tooth grinding. Read my latest blog post to learn more about the connection between posture and dental health! Read more

How Not to Be a One-Trick Pony as a Pain Intervention

September, 2020
Many back pain interventions could be described as having a single, dominant approach: cortisone injections into inflamed tissue, insertion of acupuncture needles to open flow in meridians, “adjustments,” medications for reducing pain, etc. Of course, each of these interventions has complexity and nuance in theory and practice, but the vast majority of existing interventions have a single focus. To put it somewhat crassly, they could be described as one-trick ponies. And I’ve wondered if this is perhaps related to why most approaches to back pain are so ineffectual. What sets the Gokhale Method apart? Read more