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Esther Gokhale Blog

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

Why Keep the Body forward in Warrior I Pose?

August, 2020

A general tenet of the Gokhale Method approach is that micro-level adjustments can lead to macro-level results. Like the world we live in, the human body is a complex, interconnected system. So it is not surprising that attainable tweaks in how we use our bodies can have beneficial effects on our function and well-being.

Yoga is no different. If you have an established yoga practice, you’ve probably discovered for yourself that small adjustments are not so small in the aggregate! Learn the specifics of why I make this particular adjustment to Warrior I Pose (Virabhadrasana I) in my latest blog post. Read more

How (and Why) to Keep Your Neck Tall

August, 2020
Neck pain is extremely widespread. It doesn’t help that most ergonomic furniture is not only unhelpful, but even counterproductive (the Herman Miller Aeron chair won the “cool” race in corporate America, and it’s my least favorite of all). We’re also surrounded by people who model poor (usually slumpy) posture with forward head — and whether we know it or not, it’s in our DNA to mimic what’s around. And last, but not least, our lay and medical experts have adopted a particularly counterproductive set of posture guidelines, including “chin up,” “chest out,” “stand up straight,” do crunches, tuck your pelvis — all of which harm the neck among other parts of the body. How can we learn to prevent neck pain? Read more

My Favorite Exercises for When You Can’t Get to the Gym, Part 2: Toning the Gluteus Medius

July, 2020

Exercise is wonderful not only for keeping us strong and healthy, but also for relieving stress and anxiety. Now that gyms are shut down again here in California, home exercise is even more important than ever before. In today’s installment, we’ll focus on an exercise I’ve devised over the years designed to isolate and strengthen the oft-overlooked gluteus medius. This muscle is almost always underdeveloped in people who’ve been raised in industrialized cultures. But it is an important player in gait, running, and athletics. It also helps with balance and fall-prevention as we move through the world, no matter our age. And it’s “behind” all the peachy, perky behinds out there in the world! Read more

My Favorite Exercises for When You Can't Visit the Gym, Part 1: Chair Pose

July, 2020
Whether you are on the road, in a campground, or just stuck at home during quarantine, you can always exercise. I’ve been dancing since I was a young child, so I have a very strong bias for dance as a way of exercising, but I also like to change it up with other types of exercise. It turns out that we have a lot of options, even when we can’t access the gym. Chair Pose (Utkatasana in Sanskrit) is a great example of an at-home, equipment-free exercise which can strengthen a variety of muscles in very little time. You don’t have to spend forever and a day in Chair Pose to reap its benefits. This makes it a perfect fit for our busy lives. Read more

How Joan Baez Got Her Booty Back at Age 79

June, 2020

If you’ve been participating in our ongoing Posture 1-2-3 Challenge for alumni, chances are you’ve seen my longtime student, Joan Baez, who regularly joins in. At age 79, she’s sturdy and beautiful, with shapely legs, toned arms, and a peachy, perky butt. Although we’ve all enjoyed her bodacious pipes for many decades, she hasn’t always been such a well-rounded posture student. In her 20s and 30s, her boombox was highly functional, but her booty was lacking. Learn how a posture upgrade helped Joan develop her glutes, and how you can develop yours, too -- regardless of age! Read more

Do You Need a Custom Desk to Work from Home?

May, 2020
How are you faring? Here in California, we’re still squarely in shelter-in-place mode, settling into “normal-for-now.” Some people, whose professions allow it, are still acclimating to the experience of working from home. How can we optimize our home work environments? I recently had a discussion with a full-time writer. Steve decided to have a new writing desk built to specs, and was curious to get my take on how to make sure his new desk, and home working environment more generally, is supportive of healthy posture. Read on to learn more! Read more

Which Pain Intervention Has Staying Power?

April, 2020


Back, neck, and joint pain may be flaring up for many of us, especially those who have come to depend on palliative interventions such as massage, chiropractic, and physical therapy.

Does it seem to anyone else like the ribbon of life just tangled dramatically? It makes sense to feel this way — we’re living in a rapidly changing world with new information coming our way all the time. One way we may be physically experiencing that change is in our daily pain levels, which can increase due to myriad reasons: working from home on unfamiliar furniture, stress manifesting as tension in the body, eroded sleep quality from anxiety flare-ups,... Read more

Cultivating Healthful New Routines in Times of Uncertainty

March, 2020


Coronavirus is a quickly-developing story, and one we’re doing our utmost to address.

We’ve all had a rough week. The spread of coronavirus has led to major disruptions in our existing routines. Schools in many locations are closed and parents are navigating homeschool and childcare without as much support from teachers and caregivers as they are used to. Students and workers, whenever possible, have had their environments shifted from the physical to the... Read more

Can the Venus of Willendorf Teach Us about Posture?

March, 2020


Thought to have been made around 30,000 BCE, one of the oldest and most famous prehistoric figurines is known as the Venus of Willendorf. Found in modern-day Austria, this late stone-age artifact is just over 4” high and has traces of ocher coloring. Underneath her ample flesh her pelvis is anteverted, placing her behind behind her. Original image courtesy Wikipedia user MatthiasKabel under CC-BY 2.5.

When the weather is cold and wet, or, for our students in the Southern Hemisphere, hot and dry, museums can be very agreeable places to visit. Humidity and temperature controlled as they are, museums allow you to... Read more