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Burkina Faso

Put Your Baggage to Work

February, 2016

When the weather is cold, we bundle up in gloves, scarves, hats, and sweaters. But these aren't the only extra burdens we carry. From Kleenex and chapstick in our purses, to holiday shopping bags, skis, and umbrellas, being prepared for the season means taking on extra weight. If carried incorrectly, extra loads contribute to neck and shoulder tension, fatigue in the arms, and back pain. If carried well, winter loads provide a welcome exercise opportunity at a time when exercise is harder to come by.

The following tips can help you reap benefits, rather than back pain, from carrying a purse and other bags.

1) Let the weight of the purse pull your shoulder gently downward. Don't tense your shoulder upward against the weight of the purse. This gently stretches your trapezius muscle, instead of tightening it, and gives your muscles a rest.

2) Carry your purse closer to your spine than your belly button. ... 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

How to Sit on the Floor, Part 3: Sitting with Legs Outstretched

September, 2019

This is the third post in our multi-part series on floor-sitting. Read Part 1 on floor sitting and Part 2 on squatting!

It’s very common for women in Africa to sit with their legs outstretched. I’ve seen rows of women use this position to spin yarn, engage in idle chatter, sort items, and more. I’ve seen babies massaged by women using this position both in Burkina Faso and in the U.S. by a visiting Indian masseuse who does traditional baby massage in Surat, India. In Samiland I saw this position used to bake bread in a lavoo (a Sami structure very similar to a teepee).

... Read more