Gokhale Method Review: Posture and Movement Education
This hub is about my experience with the Gokhale Method of posture and movement education. I found Gokhale Method in my search to solve my problem of chronic pain, but this information would benefit anyone interested in taking good care of their body. The viewpoint is unique: Esther Gokhale brings a historical and anthropological approach to the question of body mechanics. Her book and class are filled with photos of ancient art depicting the human body, preindustrial tribesman at manual labor, and black and white photos of 19th century Americans. Her thesis: modern Americans manage their bodies in ways that will increase pain, while the ancients and preindustrial people use their bodies in ways that minimize pain and damage.
I consider the Gokhale Method the most helpful treatment of all I tried during my chronic pain journey. Did it get rid of my pain completely? No. But Gokhale method improved my pain situation. In the end no treatment brought enough relief for me to function in my daily life, and currently I control the pain with prescription medication. (I've written another hub about that decision.)
What the Gokhale Method did accomplish was to make me comfortable in my body for the first time in a long time. That is an invaluable gift. At my physical last week I measured a half inch taller than in the past, and I attribute this to the education in posture and movement I received from Gokhale’s book and class. (And I guess I should say, applying what I learned pretty much continuously.) I believe this education has given me the tools to avoid a second ruptured disc. I also think if I had had this information 20 years ago I would not be in this situation with chronic pain now.
A newsclip about the Gokhale Method
How the Gokhale Method was developed
Esther Gokhale, an American biochemist, ruptured a disc in her low back during the ninth month of her first pregnancy. She was in her late twenties, and had been athletic, with gymnastics and yoga to her credit. The pain was excruciating, and pregnancy prevented taking painkillers. After delivery, holding and carrying the baby caused intense pain, which did not lessen with time. Esther decided to study back pain and made an interesting discovery: 80% of Americans experience back pain during their lives, but there are cultures where back pain is virtually unknown. Esther set out to learn why entire cultures do not experience a health problem which is epidemic in the US.
Esther traveled to Africa, Brazil and rural Portugal to study both manual laborers and sedentary people who report no back pain. Her conclusion: back pain (also other problems like knee pain and shoulder issues) is the result of posture and body mechanics. The way pain free cultures sit, stand, walk and lift differs from the way 20th century Americans perform these functions, and that difference leads directly to the back pain epidemic of the modern world. Interestingly, the posture and movement of 19th and early 20th century Americans closely resembles the rural Africans and Portuguese Gokhale studied (she demonstrates this with numerous photographs). I had wondered myself when I kept reading news articles about how chronic pain was becoming widespread in the US, with even teenagers now reporting back problems in increasing numbers.
Gokhale’s research makes sense, and best of all shows that chronic pain can be mitigated by changing how one uses one’s body. Gokhale solved her own pain problem by applying her research to herself. Today, nearly 30 years after her ruptured disc, she is pain free. Though she had been told by doctors she could never manage another pregnancy, she became and remained pain free, and gave birth to two more babies.
Ways to learn the Gokhale Method
I discovered the Gokhale Method in her book 8 Steps To A Pain Free Back. The book is excellent, and for the $16.47 price tag through Amazon I can’t think of any purchase more worthwhile for the health of literally anyone, pain sufferer or pain free, young or old. If you are interested in anthropology or anatomy the book might be interesting to you just on that level. First the book lays out the theory behind the method, and then gives lessons in how to sit, lay, stand and walk. Each lesson breaks down the new posture or movement into many steps, with plenty of illustrations.
There are also classes. The basic class covering the whole method is 6 sessions of 90 minutes, at a cost of $450. Esther’s home studio is in Palo Alto, CA, but she regularly travels around the country. For a list of available classes in US and international locations see the website http://egwellness.com/
Esther also offers teacher certification in her method, online classes, and a class for teens.
...to view your species as a failure on a physical level is profoundly demoralizing.
Mental benefits of the Method
This method gave me back my confidence in the design of the human body, a confidence severely shaken by personal experience and also by the number of other chronic pain sufferers I met. One neurologist I consulted told me "the human spine is designed for failure." To believe yourself a sick or injured individual is one thing: to view your species as a failure on a physical level is profoundly demoralizing. Esther Gokhale’s research convinced me that the human body is naturally strong and pain free if managed correctly. I will benefit for the rest of my life from what I learned, and recommend this education to everyone who is interested in maintaining good health.
Links with more information:
- Q & A with Esther Gokhale Author of 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back :The Fashionable Bambino
- Esther Gokhale Wellness Center - Palo Alto, CA
15 Reviews of Esther Gokhale Wellness Center "I recently completed the Gokhale Method Foundations course (90 minutes per class over a six week period). I came to course after having spent the better part of a year traveling for work (i.e., lots
- Esther Gokhale\'s hunt for perfect posture - SFGate
Esther Gokhale is not a stalker, but she has pursued hundreds, even thousands of people around the world, mimicking their body alignment and walking style until her shadow matched theirs. She has
- Esther Gokhale, C. A. | Esther Gokhale Wellness Center