August: Travel and see the human body differently

August 03 2015

I was lucky enough to study in Chennai as part of my yoga training. Decades later, I realised that I still missed one of the most profound lessons travel to India offers – and it lay in the amazing poise and movement of the people.

I was lucky enough to study in Chennai as part of my yoga training. Decades later, I realised that I still missed one of the most profound lessons travel to India offers – and it lay in the amazing poise and movement of the people.

It was obvious the manual workers there were doing something different from what I was accustomed to seeing in Bristol – slightly built women with the strength and balance to carry bricks on their heads, for example, or the elderly bending easily to the floor – what I didn’t realise was how these feats depended on their postural alignment.

It took a book by postural educator Esther Gokhale (Go-clay) to explain what I had seen. Living in the US, Gokhale finally resolved her own crippling back pain, having exhausted conventional treatments including surgery, when she turned to her native India, as well as travelling in Africa, South America and rural Europe. Worldwide, she interviewed and recorded the posture of people still living in traditional, non-industrialised communities.

Gokhale found that regardless of culture, gender, age, manual or sedentary occupations, traditional communities shared common ways to sit, stand, walk, bend and carry. These populations had less than a 5% incidence of back pain as against 80% and more in the UK and US. And their posture is quite distinct from what most of us do in the industrial world. 

If you are planning travel to such places, have photographs from past trips, or even just browse the internet, you can witness traditional posture that is not only beautiful, but highly functional. As Gokhale shows in her book, ‘8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back’, it is what we are built to do.

Free Workshops with Gokhale Method teacher Clare Chapman:

Tuesday 11th August, 10am, The Tart cafe, Gloucester Rd

Wednesday 12th August, 7pm, Halo, Gloucester Rd

Sign up at www.gokhalemethod.com or call 07982 231317.