There are several ways the Gokhale Method helps a person lose weight. I discovered this benefit of the method from students reporting back to me that they had lost 10 pounds without changing anything other than their posture. This happened frequently enough that it set me thinking about possible mechanisms between J-spine posture and weight loss. There are no studies on posture and weight loss that I know of, so all the pathways described below are conjectures.
Getting rid of pain enables and induces people to become more active. Our students almost routinely return to or take up a variety of athletic endeavors, yoga, dance, and more after getting rid of their back pain. Being active contributes directly and indirectly (better mood, better sleep, etc.) to weight loss.
After learning the Gokhale Method, many students find relief from pain and are able to return to active lifestyles and hobbies. Photo courtesy Unsplash.
The Gokhale Method teaches you to “use your muscles and spare your joints.” Using muscles burns calories, which helps with weight loss. Our students learn to use muscles that are typically “asleep” or suffering “amnesia” in modern urban dwellers. These include:
The glute pack (buttocks). These are among the largest muscles in the body, designed to propel us forward with every step we take. When the glutes are fast asleep, some of their tasks are taken over by the quads. When the glutes reawaken, every step becomes a rep, and the person burns more calories.
The inner corset, consisting of the deeper 3 layers of abdominal muscles and deepest layer of back muscles. These muscles protect the spinal tissues by slenderizing and elongating the torso, thus easing the vertebrae apart and taking pressure off spinal discs and nerves. In modern cultures, these muscles are typically under-used, allowing for wear and tear and pain in the back. In engaging the inner corset whenever the back is threatened, students burn extra calories in a natural way.
Foot muscles. Modern urban feet tend to be quite weak, and it’s difficult for most people to muster up much action under foot. When you begin to activate these muscles, they too will burn a few calories.
With healthy J-spine posture, and using muscles / sparing joints, you will develop more muscle mass. Increased muscle mass results in a higher BMR (basal metabolism rate). Alongside burning more calories throughout your day, you are increasing the rate at which you burn calories — a second-order effect to help drive your weight loss efforts even further.
Here I’m certainly going out on a limb, and this theory has reduced at least one friend to peals of laughter, so you’ve been warned! I find the logic compelling in a commonsensical way, but some people clearly don’t. Having increased tone in the three deeper layers of abdominal muscles is akin to having a built-in corset that offers some pushback to an expanding stomach when you eat. It acts as a delimiter to the volume available to your digestive organs. With a little leap of the imagination, we could suspect that a feeling of fullness or satiety would arrive sooner rather than later, and reduce overeating. There — I’ve said it. And I’m very curious to hear if this sounds plausible or crazy to you.
It’s possible that one’s inner corset encourages a full feeling earlier, resulting in less food consumed. Photo courtesy Unsplash.
Weight loss is almost always a multivariable project. Though we have not done any controlled studies, we have arrived at these intuitions and hypotheses along the way. I’d love to hear from anyone out there on your experiences with weight loss and posture modification.
There are many possible (but unconfirmed) relationships between posture change and weight loss. Photo courtesy Pixabay.
Do you have any additional theories? Which of these do you think has the strongest effect?