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Journey with Joan Baez

July, 2019


Feeling happy after a lesson. 

If you ask Joan Baez what keeps her in good enough shape to do worldwide musical tours at age 78, she will hand you a little brown card that says “Esther Gokhale, Creator of the Gokhale Method.”


My wooden business card.

Joan has used various kinds of bodywork throughout her career. Music tours invariably involve bumpy bus rides, late-night performances, uncomfortable beds, and other challenges to the human frame, and Joan, like most seasoned musicians, has experienced her share of neck and back strain. Joan lives in California, the mecca of massage therapists, chiropractors,... Read more

How to Sit on the Floor, Part 2: Squatting

June, 2019

This is the second post in our multi-part series on floor sitting. For Part 1 on floor sitting, click here.

Why squat? Squatting isn’t something we do much in industrialized societies beyond childhood, but if you can do it healthfully, it is an eminently practical posture for resting the body while keeping the backside elevated off the ground and the clothing clean, as this woman from Orissa demonstrates.


This woman from Orissa demonstrates a healthy, full squat with foot arches intact and a long, straight spine.

It is also the posture used for toilet activities in places with floor toilets, a trend which has recently made its way to the industrialized realm in the... Read more

Why Does the Oldest Chinese Buddha Figure Slump?

June, 2019

 


The oldest surviving dated Chinese Buddha figure shows surprisingly slumped posture. Note the forward head, absence of a stacked spine, and tucked pelvis. He would not look out of place with a smartphone in his hand!

This surprisingly hunched Chinese Buddha figure is the oldest dated Chinese Buddha figure that has survived into modern times. The inscription on its base dates it to 338 AD, 500 years after Buddhism came to China from India. Compare the Chinese Buddha figure with this Indian Buddha figure from roughly 800-1000 AD…
 


This North Indian Buddha figure from the post-Gupta period (7th - 8th century AD) shows... Read more

“I’ve Been as Lucky as I’ve Been Unlucky:” Cynthia’s Story

May, 2019

“I would do anything for Esther. She’s the epitome of goodness.” Like many Gokhale Method students local to the Bay Area, Cynthia deeply values her personal relationship with Esther. Cynthia is 72 years old and a native Californian. Her husband, Charlie, is also a native Californian, and they love their home state.

Cynthia has always valued being in good shape and pursuing outdoor activities. She started backpacking after she got her undergraduate degree in Spanish. She continued backpacking while teaching Spanish, and during a backpacking trip in the Canadian Rockies, she realized she actually wanted to be a geologist. She had with her a book on local geology, and says that “the exposure of the sedimentary, folded, metamorphosed strata in the Rockies would make anyone into a geologist.” She returned to school for a geology degree... Read more

Improving Your Neck Placement: a New Technique

May, 2019

I’ve taught stretchlying on the side for decades. So it’s a (welcome) surprise to discover a way of arranging the neck that is both more effective in adding additional neck length and more relaxing for the neck muscles.

 


It takes good form to be able to get rest on a surface this hard.
 


In July, reindeer herders in Samiland corral their reindeer to mark the ears of the unbranded calves. This involves stretches of waiting, some of it done reclining on the side, as above.

 

To date, I’ve taught... Read more

"I Found I Could Defeat Sciatica:" Norm's Story

May, 2019


Photo courtesy Norman Crawford.

Norm, a hydrologic analyst and author now 82 years of age, originally hails from Alberta, Canada. When Norm was 16 years old, he accepted a summer job in Lake Louise (also known as Lake of the Little Fishes by the local Stoney Nakoda people), a location in the Canadian Rockies so known for its rugged beauty that it is frequently included on lists of “Wonders of the World.” This breathtaking landscape formed the backdrop for Norm’s lifelong love affair with the outdoors. Decades later, Norm still speaks of Lake Louise with understated reverence.


Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, where Norm first fell in love with... Read more