By Coach KB

(If you are new to the POINT Gym and Kitchen blog and want to learn what the Movement Minute Challenge is all about, check out the introductory post here.) 

The person in the image above would have no trouble carrying something on his head. He would not bump into anyone or anything on the street. He also likely has no back pain.

This week’s Movement Minute Challenge is inspired by the work of Esther Gokhale (pronounced go-clay), founder of the Gokhale Method, whose tagline is “Primal Posture for a Pain-Free Life,” and author of the book, 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back. She takes a unique anthropological view of posture and movement, having spent much time studying different cultures and the way they move.

Among the many brilliant things she has to say, one of them is that we are really missing out in our culture by not carrying anything on our heads. We are starting to lose the ability to hold our heads up! This is a major problem because when the head sits properly on top of our bodies, the spine can function as its meant to. Being that the spine is the junction for every nerve in our body, this also means that our bodies will function as they are meant to, too!

This week my challenge to you is to spend AT LEAST one minute per day carrying something on your head. When you put something on top - directly on top… on the crown - of your head, you get immediate feedback down your body and you have to straighten up, otherwise the object will slide off your head. It is one of the best ways to line everything up, from your hair to your toes. Notice how difficult it is to maintain this posture… we have lost so much of the stabilizer strength in our necks through constantly having our heads down looking at our books and screens, our saucepans and DIY projects, at the trails we run and the grounds we walk… We have forgotten that our eyes can move much more than we give them credit for.

Start with a small weight, like a cushion. Our necks are not strong enough for big weights yet, trust me! Play around with having it on your head while walking, driving, responding to emails… I’ll bet that your body will immediately feel good having to be in proper alignment… and then very quickly feel horrible because it wants to return to the familiar, albeit malaligned, movement pattern. You may find that it would suit you to adjust the height of your computer screen. Be sure to take breaks for other movement… I don’t recommend head-carrying while cooking, at least not at first!

Some of you may want to incorporate this into a regular daily practice. I started doing this while on my computer and while driving and yes, you might get some funny glances at stoplights, but I have learned so much about where my head should sit relative to my shoulders that I have started practicing my alignment without something on my head. The tension in my shoulders feels so much better!

If you really want to fine-tune your head-carrying form, check out Esther Gokhale’s video on technique and practice.

*If you are interested in hearing more from Esther Gokhale I highly recommend her interview in Episode 3 of the Liberated Body podcast.