Susan (left) enjoying time with her grandchild and family.
Susan sent us this photo, commenting, “but check out the C-shaped spine—wow!”
I am a 70-year-old woman. As a young woman I was tall (5’10"), slender, and active as I would ever be raising my six children.
For the most part, my body and I had a good relationship, but, over time and with the demands of my life, something problematic happened. My body began talking to me: my knee, psoas, sacrum, and lower back hurt, and I also suffered a loss of balance. I mainly saw a chiropractor but also physical therapists, massage therapists, and acupuncturists…the list is long. When you want to function and feel halfway decent, you try everything.
By the time I was 60, I had three fractures in my spine and a diagnosis of osteoporosis. For 10 years I worked hard to control the osteoporosis and did well rebuilding my bones, but even so, I am now 5’6", four inches shorter than I was. Perhaps it is vain to wish every day for the return of my stature, but to stand tall and straight has been a preoccupation. I tried to hide my posture under my clothes, but of course that doesn’t really work!
Learning to stacksit gave Susan a much-improved position for her piano and organ playing.
In my thirties I started teaching piano and became a church organist. Recently, because of the pandemic, our church music has had to be prerecorded. On Sundays, when the recordings were broadcast, I saw myself seated at the organ and was astonished to see how small and bent over I was. This was not the way I had imagined myself looking. It was horrifying. I knew something had to change.
These people all have open chests and relaxed, posterior shoulders. Young children, our ancestors,
and diverse populations in nonindustrialized areas of the world today share this healthy posture.
In spite of the deterioration, I maintained hope of improvement. When I came across Esther Gokhale for the second time in a year, I paid attention. I was inspired by her TEDx talk, interviews, and website. There was wisdom and a depth of insight there that I had not seen before, and a pursuit of positive change that matched my own. There was something compelling in the testimonies of the Gokhale Method alumni, and Esther’s research into ancestral and primal postures. It all rang true and had evidence to back it up. I had to try the Gokhale Method.
For all my efforts and the various things I had tried, nothing up to that point had worked for me. I was afraid that Esther’s approach was not going to work either. I told myself I would give it a year. I started working with Esther and gave her my trust and commitment. I learned my new body awareness methodically through the 18 concise lessons of the Elements online program. At times I worried I would be disappointed again, but Esther’s expectation of a good outcome—combined with her integrity and tenacity—kept me moving forward.
Susan used to tuck her pelvis and collapse her spine (left). Having learned to antevert her pelvis and
use her inner corset (right), she now stands tall, regaining length in her torso.
An important step for me was understanding the difference between a tucked pelvis and an anteverted pelvis, and that I could make it happen in my own body. Doing the “inner corset” also made visible changes. I wasn’t bent over from fatigue by the end of the day. I was so grateful. I could be upright again, and I felt back to being myself. Previous to the Elements course, my body had become something to fear; it has now become something I take pleasure in.
So many things have gotten better. I had a tight psoas for decades, which caused pain in my groin. I don’t feel that anymore. Before if I fell asleep on my back, I would wake myself up snoring or run out of breath. That has gone. It had also been difficult to breath when walking; now all of my breathing is much better. Over the winter I have been enjoying barefoot walks along the beach, applying what I have learned about my feet. This attention is paying off and my feet are changing. A small bunion is reducing and the big toe is coming home (Esther said it probably would) while the other toes are relaxing straighter.
Cultivating kidney bean-shaped feet with strong arches helps take pressure off the delicate structures of the forefoot. Susan notices her bunion is reducing and her toes are starting to straighten.
The daily class on the 1-2-3 Move program is very important for me to maintain ongoing improvements—and it keeps me motivated. The online community helps me celebrate and practice what I have gained. I’m inspired by Esther’s beautiful visuals of healthy body alignment and architecture.
Occasional anatomy snippets woven into the 1-2-3 Move classes
help participants to understand their own body architecture.
Additionally, the Q&A session following each 13-minute class makes it easy to ask questions. Just last week someone asked a question about the role of rectus abdominis (the six-pack ab muscles) and a huge light shone for me; I realized how these muscles can tuck the pelvis and/or round me forward. Now I let that sort of tension go—and I can stand straighter! I’ve learned how to use my “inner corset” muscles, drawing my deeper abs in and upward like I’m going into ice-cold water. I regularly go quarry swimming, so I know exactly what that feels like!
This entire journey of finding out how my body works has been transformative for me. Best of all, the Gokhale Method has shown me how I can once again live my life upright and pain free. What a gift!