Gliding to Better Posture

Walking like our ancestors

Gokhale poses in front of one of her photographs taken in Africa, which depicts a woman walking with a natural posture—not the posture that Westerners have adopted.

Photograph by Lane Johnson

Try to imagine “the feeling when you walk…smooth, with no harsh landing. It is relatively effortless but powerful, and feels like you are gliding through space. It takes people back to our natural way of walking.”

That’s how Esther Gokhale describes the technique she calls “glidewalking,” a manner of physical movement which is characterized by “a strong propulsion forward, powered by contraction of the buttock muscles, soft landings that don’t jar the weight-bearing joints, and a ‘swing’ phase where the buttock and leg muscles get a break.” A key component of glidewalking is the squeezing or contracting of the gluteal muscles as the body moves forward.

Growing up in India, Gokhale studied Indian dance and yoga, but as a young woman she suffered from back pain and underwent major back surgery with no relief. After obtaining a biochemistry degree from Princeton University and a Chinese medicine degree from the San Francisco College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Gokhale travelled the world to study the root causes of musculoskeletal pain. She was most intrigued by the populations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, which had very low incidences of back pain. Gokhale came to believe that Americans have lost sight of what constitutes healthy posture, and that many of our guidelines for “good posture” are simply wrong.

“Glidewalking is based on how all non-industrial populations (tribal people, our ancestors, young children) walk,” Gokhale says. “Every bone in the body has its natural place and I help people find their way back to the structure they had when they were 2 years old—to the primal structure of their ancestors.”

Today, Gokhale teaches classes at her wellness center in Palo Alto and gives presentations at many Silicon Valley companies, including Google. Gokhale says that she has not had back pain in over 20 years. Glidewalking is just one step in the Gokhale Method, which teaches people to sit, sleep, stand, walk, and bend in ways that protect and strengthen the bones and muscles. Over 150 physicians have taken courses in the Gokhale Method.

Gokhale says the main premise of her teaching is to show people how to “use everyday activities with the same attention and purpose as yoga. When you are stacked correctly and have learned to breathe well, you have a better chance of leading a pain-free life.”

To learn more, try a free introductory class by visiting

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