Theme 3 - Don’t sit up straight

We in modern society suffer from different kinds of aches and pains because we have forgotten how to use our body, but all these sufferings can be healed by restoring our primal posture when we bend, walk and sit. Speaker Esther Gokhale also demonstrates some practical ways to sit so we can live a pain-free life.




Task A: Matching activities

Match the words on the left with the explanations on the right

Task B. Comprehension activities

Part I. Choose the correct statement

Part II. Fill in blanks with the following words:

Task C. Language activities

Use the following expressions in the correct context with appropriate adjustments:

    Carry sth. into adulthood

    Don’t settle for anything less

    Hook sth. on sth

  1. When going indoors from the snow, we usually take off our coat and ___________________.

    Hook it on the rack/hook it one wall.

    Hide answer.

  2. Since he was a small child, Michael has been reading for an hour before going to bed and he _____________________.

    He carries this habit/practice into adulthood.

    Hide answer.

  3. You have come so far to achieve what you want. I do not see any reason to make any compromise. _____________________.

    Don’t settle for anything else.

    Hide answer.

  4. We have argued enough. I insist $500 is the lowest we would sell the vase at. I _____________________.

    Would not settle for anything less.

    Hide answer.

Video ©TEDxTalks (


Presenter: Esther Gokhale

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 Plantar Fasciitis and the repetitive stress injuries in 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’re sitting very differently. This guy slumped, head forward, shoulders forward and this guy’s pretty upright. Now, what would most parents tell their children who are sitting like this: sit up straight and he could do it but it would take tension in his low back and he probably last[s] a short while and then he get[s] tired, maybe sore, and he go[es] back to slumping. So most of us go back and forth between being upright and tense which we think is a 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. That’s… this is like your foundation and the easy way to see the difference in their pelvic positions is to imagine that they have tails. Where would you say this guy’s tail is? Under him, you 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, antiverted, behind behind. And if you have that, then your blocks, your vertebrate get to stack easily, and the muscles get to relax and when you breathe now, your whole back and move and that stimulate 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. And then this is the age at return neuropathways are getting set as what constitutes sitting. So we carry those habits into adulthood where we continue to sit this way. And then doesn’t help that most of our furniture as poorly designed including the ergonomic furniture and that we are instructed by our fitness experts and so on to tuck up 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 established we would too end up what our ancestors had. I call it a J-spine where you see the behinds are behind and the upper lumber areas pretty erect and elongated. And it’s the same posture that you find in non-industrial population the world over. These are the ubon tribesmen from Boni in Indonesia. You can see they have admirable (well) butts and even groove in the spine and you can see the shoulders 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. And you are going to sit with your bottom well back in your chair, and then hinge away from the back rest. Place your fist on the lower border of your rib cage, and then gently push back so as to elongate your low back. And now, grab some place of your chair, maybe your armrest, or any other parts of the chair, and gently push the top of you away from the bottom of you like this. And now hit yourself to the backrest. Okay, now, ideally the chair would have some gripping things mid back to hold you like you see here, or you would have an implement like our stretch-sit 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 last.

Find your primal posture and sit without back pain: Esther Gokhale at TEDxStanford (6:14) -
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