Find your primal posture and sit without back pain: Esther Gokhale at TEDxStanford

Translator: Mary Kay
Reviewer: Denise RQ We, in modern society, have really forgotten
how to use our bodies. And we suffer a lot of aches, and pains,
and dysfunction because of that. But the good news is that we can heal most of the neck pain,
and the plantar fasciitis, and the repetitive stress injuries,
and the back pain that we suffer. And we can do it simply
by restoring our primal posture and truly natural ways of bending, walking, lifting, sitting. Here you see two Portuguese horsemen, and they are both relaxed,
but they are sitting very differently. This guy is slumped,
head forward, shoulders forward; and this guy is pretty upright. Now, what would most parents tell
their children when sitting like this? Sit up straight! And he could do it, but it would
take tension in his lower back. And he’d probably last a short while,
and then he get tired, maybe sore, and he’d go back to slumping. So most of us go back and forth
between being upright and tense which we think is
good posture, but it isn’t, and then being relaxed and slumped
which we all know is bad posture. What we really want is to be upright and relaxed. And what it takes
is a well-positioned pelvis. This is like your foundation. And the easy way to see
the difference in their pelvic positions is to imagine that if they have tails. Where would you say this guy’s tail is?
Under him. He is sitting on it. And that guy’s tail? Out behind him. And for our species, the natural way
to have your tail is out behind you, anteverted: behind-behind. And if you have that, then your blocks,
your vertebrae, get to stack easily, and the muscles get to relax. And when you breath now,
your whole back can move, and that stimulates circulation. It’s like a little massage
going on all day, and you can heal yourself that way. If you sit on your tail,
you’ve got two bad options. This is one, relaxed and slumped, and here is the other, upright and tense. So if tucking your pelvis
is so problematic, how come so many of us do it? The answer begins early in life
in the way we are carried – you see the tucked pelvis – and the way we are parked
in poorly designed baby furniture. It’s a sad thing, I know! (Laughter) And then, this is the age at which our neural pathways
are getting set as to what constitute sitting. So we carry those habits into adulthood
where we continue to sit this way. Then it doesn’t help that most
of our furniture is poorly designed including the ergonomic furniture; and that we are instructed
by our fitness experts and so on to tuck our pelvis to protect
our spines and so on, very unfortunate guidelines. So how are we going to return to our truly primal posture, behind-behind, bones well-stacked? The same posture we used to have when we were two,
and that our ancestors had. I call it a “J-spine” where you see
how the behind is out behind, and then the upper lumbar area
is pretty erect and elongated. And it’s the same posture that you find in non-industrial
populations the world over. These are the Iban tribesmen
from Borneo in Indonesia. And you can see they have
admirable … well, butts (Laughter) and even groove in the spine. And you can see the shoulders
are prominent, really beautiful. So let’s begin this journey
back to our primal posture. And I’m going to teach you
an exercise I call “stretch sitting”. You are going to sit with your bottom
well back in your chair, and then hinge away from the back rest. Place your fists
on the lower border of your rib cage, and then gently push back
so as to elongate your lower back. And now, grab some place of your chair maybe your arm rests
or any other part of your chair, and gently push the top of you
away form the bottom of you, like this; and now, hitch yourself to the back rest. OK, now, ideally the chair would have
some grippy thing mid-back to hold you, like you see here; or you would have an implement like our stretch seat cushion,
or folded towel; something with friction
to meet your mid-back and actually hold you up. Since you don’t have
any implement, you might try bunching up your fabric
in the back of you, and creating a kind of ledge, and then hooking yourself there,
and totally relaxing. And what you have just done is the first baby-step
towards elongating your spine, restoring your primal posture, and having a pain-free functional life. That is our natural heritage. Don’t settle for anything less! (Applause)

Comments 100

  • Im sitting like she told me now, and I can feel my spine slipping back into slot…..its amazing and disgusting!

  • how come when she starts showing a posture the video focus on something else like the audience. It is poorly designed presentation.

  • Step 1 – speculate that indigenous populations do not have similar prevalences of back pain to the rest of the world
    Step 2 – blame posture and sitting (both of which have no association with back pain – in fact those who sit at work tend to have lower prevalence of lower back pain)
    Step 3 – show pictures as 'evidence'
    Step 4 – let the ridiculous comments begin

  • I wanna know what the other steps are after this baby step as it has helped me heaps!

  • This has literally changed my life

  • Someone needs to invent furniture to correct our posture.

  • If you sit is a chair without armrests, thus holding up your arms while you use a keyboard all day, you may end up with neck pain over time.

  • Bless you.

  • Or you could just use a foam roller.

  • In theory this could be right. Nevertheless, nearly every scientific paper debunks the common belief that posture is responsible for pain. A big shift of paradigm will be needed in the years to come in order to change the beliefs about back pain. The sitting posture is not responsible of pain. Neither is the shape of your spine. The lack of movement is probably one of the real culprits.

  • the photos she showed of the tribal people didn't they have anterior pelvic tilt??

  • Well shit, I always knew that something is wrong with me since I can never sit up straight for more than a couple of minutes without some kind of a back support. Who knew that a simple mistake by parents can cause this much damage to their child's life.

  • sitting in a spider chair solves all this

  • good advice I'm a professional driver so I drive long hours and yes it works.

  • Please do not listen to this lady! I'm speaking from experience, I followed her advice and changed the way I sat and it caused alot of pain and issues.
    YOU WILL GET AN ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT if you sit the way she tells you!

    The way she wants people to sit or even stand, with their "behinds behind" is very unnatural, if you follow her advice, you will be causing strain on your spine and also on your pelvis!

    Following her advice will lead you to an ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT and it will cause lots of strain on tendons, bones and your discs.

    She mentions the indigenious people having great glutes. Those glutes are not from them over arching their backs. Their glutes are strong from lots of running and lots of physical activities.

    Instead, exercise and strengthen your glutes and abdomen for a good posture.

  • How do you write or eat at a table sitting like that?

  • hot lady

  • Weight lift and work the posterior chain with deadlifts, barbell rows etc.

  • Before buying on gearbest, know that it's thieves.
    They do not repay,
    on google search for "Thieves Gearbest".

  • Back to slav squat

  • that was really informative

  • google this woman, she is an *acupuncturist*. Might as well take health advice from an astrologist

  • What is natural?

  • Best speaker about posture so far

  • I thought an anterior pelvic tilt was a bad thing?

  • Holy Cow – I tried it while watching this video; and the pain in my back is GONE!!

  • Thank You for sharing this wisdom. Scoliosis Gym invented algorithmic scoliosis exercises to straighten scoliosis.

  • nonsense. (and any real chiropractor should know better). posture is the fundamentally the involuntary sum product of muscle lengths, basically governed, like all other bodily functions, by innervation. nerve interference produces two main effects on affected muscles, elongation and weakness. the various elongated muscles affected by nerve interference are the cause of imbalanced posture and gait, and the only true solution is to correct the cause of the nerve interference.

  • I think the biggest cautionary sign of The Gockhale Method is the fact that it comes with a trademark. That aside, her book is like 50% testimonials and another 40% pictures, it's very short sans all the padding and yet she charges serious dollar for it. All her claims are at best not rigurous and at worst completely bogus. She rehashes the same three or four images in her book, dvds and all her talks to make her points about 'primal posture'. Same picture of a statue, a spine from a century ago. Have a look at other pictures and photographs for a more accurate picture of past and current cultures. It doesn't take much to see through it all. Her charismatic, focal personality is distinctly cultish, I feel sorry for people paying dollar for her classes in her clinics. Look, if you have back pain, purposefully getting yourself a pelvic tilt ain't going to solve anything ESPECIALLY if that pain is disk related. She also touts traction as well, which has been demonstrated to not help back pain. Better posture and a stronger core are good for your back, but you need to be careful and go through these plans with medical professionals. Never go near a chiropractor or accupuncture. Apparenlty she herniated a disk and had surgery and then had problems a year later and went on her marvelous ten year adventure or study (I don't even believe this story tbh). If you read her book she used to do hours of yoga every day. She probably didn't let it heal properly after her first surgery and after her second herniation she probably backed off and it healed over time like most herniations do.

  • "If I can walk I don't run .if I can sit down I don't walk. If I can lie down I don't sit" satchell paige

  • I'm a guitarist. After hours of playing I could use some advice.

  • I read one of their books. I think it is dangerous to do without a professional

  • She should of shown how to stand and walk with good poster. Not only to sitting.

  • Huh, so anterior pelvic tilt is good now? Which one is it, I'm so confused?

  • This works! I am so very grateful for this! I changed to this way of sitting a couple of days ago and the extreme pain that I had is gone! GONE! I'm amazed.
    I recently began working as a share driver and would feel as if I were handicapped every time I stood up outside of the car. The pain slowed me down considerably and I couldn't quickly move to help my riders with luggage. or to refuel. It was discouraging, I felt so old and unattractive, and uncomfortable. I was trying to help myself by tucking my pelvis and tightening my abdominals. Apparently that was all wrong.
    Luckily I saw this talk. The next day I purchased a support that is meant for the lumbar back at the dollar store. I push it up so that it sits higher and I let that curve in my back happen, and voila!
    The difference is truly life changing. Yes, my tummy sticks out more, but who cares! My back doesn't hurt!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • can't talk, busy crashing my lambo.

  • How to make an audience parrrp.

  • The best fix is re learning the squat and use it as rest position. That's it

  • A forward head can be cause by obstruction to the upper airway.

  • What about a “knee chair”???

  • Throughout the years, my own practices and observances have taught me proper posture is the only way to optimal health. A healthy spine is everything 😊

  • I've forgot how to sit.

  • This message won't have any results as long as painkillers are one of the most reliable sources of profit for the pharmaceutic industry.

  • I like the way she presents her ideas, though somewhat sceptical. Its worth pointing out that non-industrialised tribes have a life expectancy of ~50 years and they don't have data collection which would prove this theory. When we say primal most of evolution has taken place in animals that live in a horizontal configuration (not vertical, i.e. standing) – you could argue our spine wasn't build for standing in the first place.

  • Keep your chest UP
    Thats it, all fixed…forward head,round shoulders, round back…all. So keep than in mind and eventually your posture will feel natural

  • Indian heritage is what made her think about it. in rural india it's common place.

  • Hold my beer.

  • With with 1.25x speed she sounds like a normal person

  • Lol if only it were this simple

  • I'm sure people see ballerinas as being stiff (I certainly did) but what my ballet teacher taught us is quite similar to this. They wanted us to shift our hips only and elongate our spine. We are, to a point, rigid in our stature, but we must also have grace. I think these two factors in posture have a lot to do with the perfect, almost doll-like, gracefulness ballerinas have.

  • Ubam? I think you mean Iban. Or is there another tribe I fail to laern about?

  • Any evidence at all to support this claim of natural posture or is it really just based entirely on an imaginary tail?

  • Such superficial rubbish. Restoring primal, natural, ideal body posture requires the removal of all of civilisation's soft and lazy lifestyle habits … including "props" like support cushions, etc.

    90% of back problems are actually caused by tight legs which refers tension into the spine. True solutions to solving the root causes of poor human posture are:

    1) Get OFF chairs, lounges, car seats and sif on the floor/ground like our ancestors.
    2) Sleep on harder surfaces.
    3) Increase ankle, knee, hip flexibility with simple exercises,
    4) Decrease hamstring tension
    5) Thoroughly flex spinal muscles forwards, backwards, sideways and twists,

    … all of which yoga has promoted for thousands of years.

  • "imagine that everyone is a furry" Way ahead of you ;D

  • Lol what . Peoples pelvises are stuck anterior not posterior

  • ignorance. back pain, postural distortion, and most other health problems are the product of nerve interference.

  • Some of what she says is true! When you explore yourself with the Feldenkrais Method, you eventually find your own best posture in sitting & all positions. When you can truly feel your bones supporting you, your muscles don't need to work so hard( & give you pain!) Watch my Marvellous Movement videos on FB & you can see what I mean..

  • 1.5x speed puts her at a normal speaking pace

  • To truly change your posture you need to work hard on changing the weakness in your muscles and restore the natural position of your joints with physiotherapy. There are no easy tricks. The internet is full of people who will make you feel better about yourself by doing the tiny step towards the big change… you need to devote yourself to the process, instead of pat yourself on the back.

  • restore deez nutz! ha! got em!

  • I'll Comment on this after one month..really motivated.

  • i wish i had a tail. then i could sit right.

  • How about inventing a Snap-on Tail for behind your behind? If you sit on it, you know to adjust.
    A new fashion statement! Behind some behinds, it might look pretty swinging !

  • This reminds me of how ladies are depicted sitting in the Victorian era to accommodate their dresses

  • Horrible editing on this video. When she's pointing to something on the screen (which we should be seeing), the editor shows us her face; when she's demonstrating proper sitting, the editor cuts to the audience so we miss what she's showing. COMPLETELY USELESS. How is it possible to be so incompetent at one's job? I've never edited a video in my life, but if you give me iMovie with the multi-angle footage of this presentation, I bet I could do a much better job than this.

  • Unfortunately she totally veers from her own advice to sell her products at the end of the video. Such typical BS. She starts off correct by saying you should sit with your tail out, yet notice she doesn't even follow her own advice at the end of the video, she sits on her tail and has the chair do the work by propping her back up which is actually horrible long term for you.

  • Perhaps these issues are really just a reflection of our lost ability to truly be present in the moment. To actually FEEL our bodies. Our society nowadays has lost the ability to even be aware of our bodies, so many people just slump into a seat and think nothing of it as they are too busy watching a screen, until they experience pain – and by that time they're so far into poor posture they have no idea how to fix it because it has unknowingly become their 'norm'… We really need to re-learn how to move again, and that involves being present in our bodies to know when we're moving or sitting in a way that is not right, BEFORE it caused pain.

  • really pretty

  • Her technique has certainly helped me and I have plenty of back issues.

  • I think she's right, but I didn't get how to do it😟!

  • i love ESTHER so beautifull nice GIRL , go on in pure LOVE, thats it ………………

  • Chairs are a crutch. She doesn't get it either. Using a crutch all the time has made us very weak. If you have the hip mobility sitting on the floor is by far the most supportive and comfortable position not on a chair. Their are different types of comfort, spinal comfort, muscular comfort, organ comfort. Usually we sacrifice skeletal and organ comfort for muscular comfort when sitting in a chair.

  • I have an anterior pelvic tilt and this video sucks

  • It's better to sit on floor cross legged and work like we do in east . Chairs changes body's centre of mass thus creating unnecessary stress on some body parts . More over blood circulation is also hindered in chair position

  • now I feel better about my back

  • Just keep this world jinxing others
    May God save us from your Jinxy eyed eyes and what it may brought of horror and terror

  • Even better dont sit just slav squat . Im serious google it

  • Worth watching it!

  • What about video game playing? You wind up with rounded shoulders because the controller is small and you have to round your arms to grip the controller which pushes the shoulders forward.

  • Picture not of ubang tribe of Borneo Indonesia but of the last nomads of Borneo the Penans. They are hunter gatherer who live mainly in Sarawak , (East Malaysia and Brunei) on the island of Borneo , rather than Kalimantan the Indonesian side

  • I've been trying to get comfortable sitting on the floor and as soon as she said "imagine they have tails" I thought about having a tail, not wanting to sit on it, moved my pelvis accordingly, and criss cross on the floor became 10x more comfortable

  • isn't the primal and natural posture of a human, the squat?

  • very nice, thank you

  • Men should not be listening to this video. Womens pelvis's are tilted naturally. Do NOT add tilt your pelvis backwards. Just don't sit on your "tail"

  • Human phenotypes have different shaped skulls. I can't help but think that those differing skulls are likely to sit on top of a variety of spines, for which the advise would be different on a case by case basis. I'm always wary of 'one size fits all' remedies. I imagine there is much value in this lady's method, but maybe not for everyone.

  • Do NOT attempt this if you have hypermobility or any kind of instability in your spine.

  • She is dead right..I agree with her 100 percent…very true she is

  • where do i find the rest of the steps?

  • I watched it three times and still don't get it.

  • Best ever backpain solution thank you sosososo much.

  • She just wants to show that booty

  • Even before we are born we lived in a Flexed spine in the womb or fetal position. How can that not be the primal posture? I find it amusing you use a statue to pretend people don't always stand up straight when taking a photograph or posing for a statue of even the fact the artist would portray them as standing like a soldier even if they were slumped over most of the time. I believe research shows not more back pain in those that sit up straight or slouched another myth we always tell but can't be proven.

  • I feel back pain after watching this 😀

  • Esther Gokhale's tips are incredibly helpful! Thank you for sharing this! If we may add, proper posture also helps reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Check out Alexander Technique, sit on sitting bones and how to get up and down from sitting position.

  • Squatting is our primal sitting position.

  • That lovely smart lady has a great future behind her ;D

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