‘m so happy to have Esther Gokhale (pronounced go-clay) answering this month’s Self-Care Questionnaire. Esther is an expert in natural alignment and effortless posture, and has combined studies in anatomy and movement with anthropological studies of native cultures around the world to identify how the human body was designed to stand, sit, lie, and move. She’s distilled her learning into an easy-to-follow method to help those of us who have gotten out of whack find our way back to a pain-free existence. Best of all, her method doesn’t require you to do thousands of core exercise–instead, she teaches you how to use your body more mindfully so that it can strengthen what needs to be strengthened and stretch what needs to be stretched while you live your everyday life. Her sleeping alignment tips, in particular, have really been helping me rest comfortably despite my ever-changing pregnant body.
In honor of Esther’s expertise, who are your posture role models? Leave a comment and share who inspires you to sit or stand a little taller, and if I select your comment to publish in the next Vegimental, I’ll send you a copy of Esther’s book.
How do you take care of yourself?
Dance is my main form of exercise because it takes care of a lot of my needs in a fun way. It allows me to keep in shape and interact with people while being creative, keeping my mind limber, keeping me connected with my body and adding a little sensuality. I also practice other forms of exercise to take care of myself, like running and table tennis, and I also make sure to eat well. The most important thing I do is surround myself with loving and good people.
What made you realize that you needed to learn how to take better care of yourself?
I had a very significant physical breakdown in my 20s–sciatic pain that ended with back surgery. That was a shock to my system.
What was your first exposure to the world of mindfulness?
I was raised doing yoga, including meditation and breathing practices, and experienced extended visits in yoga ashrams.
How do you integrate your wellness endeavors into a typical day (or week)?
By being mindful of my posture, I connect with physical and emotional wellness often. My practice is interwoven with my everyday life.
How do you invest in your own, personal well-being?
My favorite way is to get bodywork from a family member or a professional. I indulge myself quite a bit in this regard to compensate for how hard I work.
What do you do to take care of yourself on days you don’t feel like doing anything at all?
I cuddle with my husband or one of my kids, if they’ll let me. Sometimes, I like reading when I don’t want to do anything active. I almost always feel like being social, either in person or on the phone, so I make the rounds with my friends if I feel down.
What do you do on insanely busy days?
I proceed in a Zen-like way, one thing at a time. I get very calm and don’t waste any energy.
How has your wellness practice changed since you first started?
It takes less of my attention to track more of my body. My mind still does lots of monkey tricks.
What have your forays into the world of wellness taught you about yourself?
I have a mix of strength and fragility. There are some kingpins in my life, my husband being one of the main ones. That, together with a healthy lifestyle, makes me very strong. I’m sturdier now than I was a decade ago. My work sustains me increasingly.
Have you had any major breakthroughs? What were they?
I’m not nearly as impulsive as I used to be. I can watch a lot of emotion come and go before I act. Phew!
What books have helped you learn how to take better care of yourself?
Getting the Love You Want, Personality Types, Feeling Good, Undefended Love, and the principles in my own book 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back.
Who have been your role models or teachers?
Brian White (my husband), and lots of other people in little ways.
What are you working on in your practice these days?
Trying to be more steady with my psychological state.
What’s your favorite vice?
Travel. I love sugar too, but that one has a big downside, so I don’t permit myself any.
Congratulations to Donna!
She shared her way of warding off the afternoon slump, and won a copy of Elaine Petrone’s The Portable Miracle Ball Method. Here’s her comment:
“I consciously relax all of my muscles while sitting in my chair (progressive relaxation) and then I take a cold drink of water. I feel like I took a nap!”
Take care and keep breathing,