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Stretch It Out

January, 2016
Lengthening the spine is an important component of the Gokhale Method and the best way to begin a posture transformation. Creating space between the vertebrae decompresses the discs and promotes healthy nerve function. Allowing your spine to be in gentle traction often throughout the day is an excellent way of creating a healthy baseline. We can do this by sitting, standing and sleeping with good posture. In addition to these Gokhale Method basics, sometimes your back muscles crave an even deeper stretch. Below I’ve outlined three additional ways you can stretch your spine that are safe and therapeutic. Read more

In Yoga: Bend Back, Don’t Swayback!

November, 2016

Not all backbends are created equal. Healthy backbends happens at the lowest lumbar level (L5-S1); unhealthy backbends happen higher up in the lumbar spine.
Cecily Frederick gör en back dyk
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How to Bend and How Not to Bend

February, 2017

Round-backed bending is ubiquitous in modern urban culture. It damages the back. Recognizing this, many health advocates recommend bending at the knees. Done to excess or with poor form, this damages the hips, knees, ankles, and feet.

Surprisingly, poor bending form abounds even in fitness and wellness classes.


An insistence on touching the toes can be counterproductive and result in damage

People sometimes equate being able to touch the toes with flexibility. An imprecise  and insistent pursuit of this kind of “flexibility” causes disc damage, hyper-extended spinal ligaments, and a lot of pain. Let’s examine do’s and don’t’s in bending more closely.

DO

  1. Come close
  2. ... Read more

What's New and What's Missing in the 2017 ACP Clinical Guidelines for Back Pain Treatment

March, 2017

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has just issued new Clinical Guidelines for the non-invasive treatment of non-radicular lower back pain (pain that does not radiate from and is not caused by damage to the spinal nerve root).

Since the last guidelines were issued in 2007, the ACP has dramatically revised the medical solutions commonly offered for back pain. Many interventions that were once routinely administered to back pain patients, having proven to be ineffective or counterproductive for back pain, are no longer part of the guidelines for doctors. Surgery, cortisone and nerve blocking injections, X-rays, and MRIs are all discouraged in back pain cases where they used to be a part of standard care.


A lot of the what used to be standard of care for back... Read more

Breathing as Spinal Massage

June, 2017

In the branch of Yoga called Pranayama (Prana = breath, life; Yama = discipline) there is a technique called Nadi Shodhan Pranayama. I learned this technique from my yoga mentors in Bombay and in an ashram in Rajnandagaon in Central India. It’s the best way I know to quiet my mind when I feel agitated. I have taught the technique to many students and patients over the years as a way to address obsessive thoughts, anxiety, and 'blah' feelings.


This Yogini is practicing Nadi Shodhan Pranayama, a style of meditative breathing

You place the tips of your middle and pointer finger of the right hand between your eyebrows and use your thumb and ring finger to open and close your nostrils. Now follow this pattern:

1.    Inhale through one nostril for four counts,

2.  ... Read more

Upgrade Your Downward-Facing Dog with the Gokhale Method and SpineTracker™

September, 2019

Studying and teaching yoga has been part of my life for several years. However, after learning the Gokhale Method, I approached the well-known yoga posture “downward-facing dog” (Adho Mukha Svanasana) in a new way.
 


Hip-hinging with my even spinal groove visible — GOOD! Image courtesy Cecily Frederick.

In the Gokhale Method Foundations Course, I learned how to hip-hinge and keep my spine from flexing when bending. I wanted to maintain about the same spinal shape in my “downward-facing dog” pose as I had learned when hip-hinging. This spinal shape, with an even spinal groove from the lower to the upper back, meant that my... Read more

Opening Your Heart Space

February, 2020


This bronze figure shows an open chest and “heart space;” his shoulders are well back and his ribcage is anchored. He is part of a fountain in Piccadilly Circus, London, sculpted by Sir Alfred Gilbert in 1893. Referred to (erroneously) as “Eros,” the figure is in fact Anteros, Eros’ brother, who represents a more mature, less capricious love. Original image courtesy Gareth Williams under CC BY 2.0.

“Heart space” is a term used in yoga to describe the upper part of the chest where the heart is located. Valentine’s Day is an ideal time to give some special attention to this region, and explore its relation to your posture and wellbeing.... Read more

Cultivating a J-Spine with Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

February, 2020

As a student and teacher of yoga and practitioner of the Gokhale Method, I choose yoga poses that make good use of my time. “Chair pose” is well worth the time investment. In fact, it has become one of my favorite strength-building postures. It is useful for cultivating a J-shaped spine. It helps increase gluteal tone. It helps to pattern healthy hip movement. It is strengthening for the legs and spinal stabilizers. And, last but not least, it allows a yoga practitioner to smoothly transition between a standing forward fold and mountain pose — without compression of the intervertebral discs.

... Read more

My Favorite Exercises for When You Can't Visit the Gym, Part 1

July, 2020
Whether you are on the road, in a campground, or just stuck at home during quarantine, you can always exercise. I’ve been dancing since I was a young child, so I have a very strong bias for dance as a way of exercising, but I also like to change it up with other types of exercise. It turns out that we have a lot of options, even when we can’t access the gym. Chair Pose (Utkatasana in Sanskrit) is a great example of an at-home, equipment-free exercise which can strengthen a variety of muscles in very little time. You don’t have to spend forever and a day in Chair Pose to reap its benefits. This makes it a perfect fit for our busy lives. Read more