Lengthening the spine is an important component of the Gokhale Method and the best way to begin a posture transformation. Creating space between the vertebrae decompresses the discs and promotes healthy nerve function. Allowing your spine to be in gentle traction often throughout the day is an excellent way of creating a healthy baseline. We can do this by sitting, standing and sleeping with good posture. In addition to these Gokhale Method basics, sometimes your back muscles crave an even deeper stretch. Below I’ve outlined three additional ways you can stretch your spine that are safe and therapeutic. Read more
Round-backed bending is ubiquitous in modern urban culture. It damages the back. Recognizing this, many health advocates recommend bending at the knees. Done to excess or with poor form, this damages the hips, knees, ankles, and feet.
Surprisingly, poor bending form abounds even in fitness and wellness classes.
An insistence on touching the toes can be counterproductive and result in damage
People sometimes equate being able to touch the toes with flexibility. An imprecise and insistent pursuit of this kind of “flexibility” causes disc damage, hyper-extended spinal ligaments, and a lot of pain. Let’s examine do’s and don’t’s in bending more closely.
Since the last guidelines were issued in 2007, the ACP has dramatically revised the medical solutions commonly offered for back pain. Many interventions that were once routinely administered to back pain patients, having proven to be ineffective or counterproductive for back pain, are no longer part of the guidelines for doctors. Surgery, cortisone and nerve blocking injections, X-rays, and MRIs are all discouraged in back pain cases where they used to be a part of standard care.
A lot of the what used to be standard of care for back... Read more
In the branch of Yoga called Pranayama (Prana = breath, life; Yama = discipline) there is a technique called Nadi Shodhan Pranayama. I learned this technique from my yoga mentors in Bombay and in an ashram in Rajnandagaon in Central India. It’s the best way I know to quiet my mind when I feel agitated. I have taught the technique to many students and patients over the years as a way to address obsessive thoughts, anxiety, and 'blah' feelings.
This Yogini is practicing Nadi Shodhan Pranayama, a style of meditative breathing
You place the tips of your middle and pointer finger of the right hand between your eyebrows and use your thumb and ring finger to open and close your nostrils. Now follow this pattern:
Studying and teaching yoga has been part of my life for several years. However, after learning the Gokhale Method, I approached the well-known yoga posture “downward-facing dog” (Adho Mukha Svanasana) in a new way.
Hip-hinging with my even spinal groove visible — GOOD! Image courtesy Cecily Frederick.
In the Gokhale Method Foundations Course, I learned how to hip-hinge and keep my spine from flexing when bending. I wanted to maintain about the same spinal shape in my “downward-facing dog” pose as I had learned when hip-hinging. This spinal shape, with an even spinal groove from the lower to the upper back, meant that my... Read more
This bronze figure shows an open chest and “heart space;” his shoulders are well back and his ribcage is anchored. He is part of a fountain in Piccadilly Circus, London, sculpted by Sir Alfred Gilbert in 1893. Referred to (erroneously) as “Eros,” the figure is in fact Anteros, Eros’ brother, who represents a more mature, less capricious love. Original image courtesy Gareth Williams under CC BY 2.0.
“Heart space” is a term used in yoga to describe the upper part of the chest where the heart is located. Valentine’s Day is an ideal time to give some special attention to this region, and explore its relation to your posture and wellbeing.... Read more
As a student and teacher of yoga and practitioner of the Gokhale Method, I choose yoga poses that make good use of my time. “Chair pose” is well worth the time investment. In fact, it has become one of my favorite strength-building postures. It is useful for cultivating a J-shaped spine. It helps increase gluteal tone. It helps to pattern healthy hip movement. It is strengthening for the legs and spinal stabilizers. And, last but not least, it allows a yoga practitioner to smoothly transition between a standing forward fold and mountain pose — without compression of the intervertebral discs.