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Le blog de Esther Gokhale

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

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