Gokhale Method Free Online Workshop - My Review
I was able to attend the Gokhale Method Free Online Workshop after a few technical problems. This workshop, targeted for people with back pain, gave an introduction to Esther Gokhale's posture work program and offered a chance to ask questions. Since I'd already read Gokhale's book on healing the back and have been practicing the stretches, exercises, and posture changes for a few weeks, I was drawn by the opportunity to ask questions - specifically, I wanted to ask if I, as a spondy person (someone with spondylolisthesis), was at risk for damaging my vertebrae and disks further if I anteverted my pelvis too soon. (Pelvic orientation is a key part of Gokhale's back health program.)
Interested, geek-fashion, in my technical difficulties with the meeting?
Here's the lowdown: I had previously attempted to attend a session, but been thwarted by technical difficulties related to my running a Linux-based operating system. After a successful test in the Chromium browser, at the actual meeting I'd tried both Chromium and Firefox, but neither allowed me to connect. After talking on the phone with the Webex staff (Webex is the system that runs the meetings; it's operated by Cisco), I discovered the problem was that 1) Chromium (the Linux version of Google Chrome) wasn't supported, and I hadn't actually tested my system in Firefox - which means I wasn't set up properly in Firefox. I did so and then when it came time to connect to Webex for this new workshop, it was buggy, but on the third try, I did manage to connect.
Webex Meeting Software Buggy & Confusing
The Webex meeting system I found to be buggy. (See my sidebar note regarding the details of my technical problems.) It apparently wasn't just me having the problem, as midway through the meeting, the speaker paused to ask people about their connections, and a number of attendees piped up noting problems with video. I know I had a problem seeing the "pointer" on the slides - at least, I gather there was a pointer from the way she said, "See on this image that here is L5-S1" and "This image is from 1990; the other image is..." and suchlike. I just saw the slides, but not what the speaker was pointing to.
Anyway, I ended up entering the workshop a minute or two late, so cannot comment on whether there was any instruction for how to use the system. I did find it confusing when I wanted to ask a question how I was supposed to do so - by the "Chat" or the "Q&A" option - and then was at a loss as to whom I was supposed to address the question - so I rather sheepishly ended up asking the same two questions in three different ways. I still don't know which way worked, but my questions were addressed. (More on that later.)
The Gokhale Method Workshop Itself
I am sorry to say that I was disappointed in the online workshop. Now, I do understand it was free - and I was grateful and amazed that it was actually interactive instead of just a recording or something. I do fully get that these workshops are as much for promotion of the Gokhale Method as to get people started in practicing it. I don't hold that against them at all.
I think the problem is that it wasn't clear who would benefit. I thought that even as somebody who'd already been introduced to the program, I'd still find something of benefit. I was mistaken. I believe the workshop really is for somebody brand new to the method - someone who hasn't watched the Authors@Google video presentation, read Gokhale's forums or newsletters, or read the book.
So what are my beefs with the workshop? The leader of the meeting announced it was going to be only a half hour session this time instead of the scheduled 45 minutes. So given how short of time we were, I was surprised by the long delay in the middle of the session in which the speaker addressed technical concerns. I was also bemused by the amount of time spent on the same intro material that's to be found in the book and other videos available on the web. Perhaps it was just my own expectations, but for a short workshop, I expected a little more "meat" - actual hands-on instruction.
There was a bit of instruction. We were taught to stretchsit, to do the shoulder roll, and to elongate the neck. But most of what was said was available easily in other materials offered free by the Gokhale Method folks. However, I need to say that there were one or two little tips that were new to me - not what I'd call essential tips, but I'm glad I know them now.
The speaker took time to promote the classes, the book, and the stretchsit cushion. I began to see that the workshop was much more of a sales pitch for the program than it was a workshop. I did feel a bit cheated of my time, as I'd already been sold - I'd bought the book and the stretchsit cushion already. But I was looking forward to getting my questions answered and still quite impressed that they were offering me the opportunity.
So finally my questions were addressed...sort of. My first question was basically, "As someone with spondylolisthesis, what kind of damage might I do to my back if I antevert the pelvis too soon?" I asked this because I'd brought up the topic on the Gokhale Method forums and been warned not to antevert the pelvis too soon. I wanted to know what anteversion does to the parts of my spine that have slipped. The answer I got was extremely general without any real "meat" - basically, the speaker said that I shouldn't go too fast, that Esther's method could help spondy patients...all stuff I'd learned previously. Nothing about the specifics to explain what people with my condition should be aware of. Vague hints that that more detailed information was available in fee-based classes. But those aren't an option to me, so all I had was this chance.
My second question was a rather desperate attempt to ask the first one again, in case the speaker didn't realize it hadn't been actually answered. (I tend to give folks the benefit of the doubt and assume the problem with communication came with me, or from computer-related issues.) But in asking this one, I reworded the question to sound more general and failed to mention spondy, and so the question was answered in that spirit, even more vaguely - I guess the meeting system didn't make it clear that the person asking this other question was the same as the person with spondy.
Was there anything I did like about the session? Yes!
- I did appreciate the couple of tips here and there that I hadn't heard before.
- I thought the speaker's use of the online workshop meeting system to demonstrate visuals was very clever - she used slides and she also used video and moved the camera a few times to aid in focusing on the right body part.
- It was great to see another person besides Esther Gokhale moving around with awesome posture.
- I think there were people that were helped - there were a number of other questions by other folks that she answered in a straightforward fashion. Maybe mine was just too hard!
Would I recommend the workshop to people who want to work on their posture? Yes, if they were really new to the program and hadn't already reviewed other materials from the Gokhale Method. If you are looking for a free sample of what's available on a paid-basis - which was what I was hoping for - you might be disappointed and feel you've gotten a sales pitch. You'll probably get a lot more out of the Authors@Google presentation on Youtube.
I hope this helps folks thinking about attending a workshop. Have you attended one? What did you think? Did your experience differ from mine? Would love to know!