FOCUS: Happy Back

Disciplines: Personal Mastery, Mental Models

Changing my posture changed my life. Thanks to this method, I am now
free of the debilitating back pain that had plagued me since my adolescence.
—Suzanne Hecker, Geologist

Every now and then a book comes along that changes my life. A few years ago the Arbinger books, Leadership and Self Deception and The Anatomy of Peace changed everything I know about relationships. I’ve written Fresh Views about the wonderful Arbinger principles.

And now 8 Steps to a Pain-Free BACK , Natural posture solutions for pain in the back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee and foot by Esther Gokhale, L.Ac. has done it again. This time it’s changed the way I stand and sit and walk and sleep in the world.

Books like these are game changers. They rock my understanding of myself and the world. They introduce ideas and practices so totally new they take time, effort and practice to absorb. And they’re so worth it because of the results! In the case of Arbinger, I’m now co-teaching the Choice in Coaching course. Highly skilled coaches, physicians and supervisors and from several continents come together on a phone bridge each week for 15 weeks and deepen and practice their understanding of the Arbinger material. In each class there are profound transformations. With each repetition my own relationships improve.

I ran into an article by Esther Gokhale in a doctor’s office. I was interested because the ideas went against everything I’d learned about good posture. And I was interested because I’d begun to experience upper back discomfort after standing while cooking. I had thought it was just getting old – too bad. Now I’m standing and cooking totally pain-free thanks to the Gokhale method.

The book is beautiful as well as informative, illustrated with photos of both indigenous people at work with their naturally good posture, and ancient sculptures showing the same. Gokhale traces the historical shift to fashionable slouching. And she also shows how many of the current trends in fitness training add to back strain. I had been increasing the sit-ups I did each day, for example, and as soon as I read her book, I stopped.

Not surprisingly, Gokhale’s method came out of personal experience. She had back pain, surgery, more back pain and no relief. That prompted her to do research and resulted in the surprising instructions she gives for a pain-free back.

An Example

One basic thing is that instead of tucking your buttocks in and your chest out to stand tall (like a soldier) she teaches how to antevert your pelvis to provide a strong foundation for your sitting or standing. In this position, with the buttocks pushed slightly back instead of tucked, the back relaxes, the spine lengthens and breathing is easier. It is only with an anteverted pelvis that people in indigenous societies are able to carry heavy baskets on their heads.

The 8 steps

So here are the 8 steps:

1. Stretchsitting
2. Stretchlying on Your Back
3. Stacksitting
4. Stretchlying on Your Side
5. Using Your Inner Corset
6. Tallstanding
7. Hip-hinging
8. Glidewalking

The first night I tried stretchsleeping, I was amazed. I had been searching for the perfect pillow for years, and had finally settled on a wedge with a contour pillow on top. Unless I slept elevated, my nose got stuffed up in the night. But with all this height, I sometimes woke up with kinks in my back or neck. After one night of stretchsleeping, I was hooked. I felt refreshed and had breathed easily all night, without elevation. Before stretchsleeping I didn’t even like sleeping on my back. Now I love it. The instructions are very complete and specific and allow you to elongate your spine and your neck and then relax totally. It’s free traction!

I’ve also found gardening easier with hip hinging and lifting heavy things a breeze using my inner corset!

You can visit Esther Gokkhale’s website at I do not know her or benefit in any way for recommending this … except that it would make me very happy if you experience the same benefit I have.

Coaching tips

  1. Borrow this book from the library or buy it (cheap at

  2. Read it and practice each step.

  3. Enjoy the results!


Let me know how it goes when you shift your posture. Send me an e-mail at (No telegathering this month because I really want you to get this book and try it and let me know about your experience.)

Read an excerpt from Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, the book Hal and I wrote, at

Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach and would be happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session by phone.

Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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