The following is a guest post from Esther Gokhale. Healthy posture practitioner extraordinaire, we are honored to have her as a presenter at this year’s PrimalCon . By day, she will lecture on posture and movement, and by night she will give the “Gokhale Method ” a spicy twist by presenting a clinic on Samba dancing (she claims Samba is the best way to learn and implement the posture and movement technique principles!). PrimalCon kicks off next week, Friday, April 15, and there are still a few remaining spots, so reserve your spot today  and come out for the 3-day weekend retreat of Primal lectures, play and feasting with fellow Grok  stars. I hope to see you there!
A dance form originating in Africa, the Brazilian Samba has become a cultural icon for the Latin American country famous for sun, sand, and beautiful physiques. As a posture teacher and founder of the Gokhale Method , I’ve found that learning the Samba is also a great way to learn how to use your body well.
Old dance forms are like a time capsule. They give us a peek at how our ancestors used their bodies and encourage us to respect our structure as well.
The Samba in particular has helped my students strengthen the abdominal and back muscles  (PDF) most able to protect the spine, engage their glutes when they walk, and increase their hip mobility, which correlates with back health.
The samba provides unique benefits to the regimens of even very active people – popular exercises in our culture involve moving mostly from front to back, not side to side, and the Samba is a fun way to mobilize this area. The shoulders and hips, areas where many of us store tension, are also loosened and emotional stress along with physical tenseness melt away.
In Brazil, people of all ages embrace samba dance and music as an expression of life and emotion. It can be danced with or without a partner, fast or slow, and the execution can change every time you dance.
Try the samba:
- Take a small step back with the right leg and press the heel into the ground, straightening the right leg and tightening the right buttock muscles. You will need to bend the left (front) knee a little to enable the back heel to reach the floor. This is the first beat.
- Hold that position for a second beat.
- Move the right leg forward to return to the starting position.
- Perform the same motions with the left leg: step back, press the heel into the floor, straighten the leg, and contract the buttock muscle; hold for a beat; return to the starting position.
- Repeat, alternating left and right legs until the movement becomes natural and familiar.
Lastly, since dancing frequently involves impact, twisting, or swaying the spine, don’t forget to engage your inner corset  (PDF). These are the muscles around the torso that help stabilize and lengthen the spine, not the six-pack muscles. Using your inner corset makes potentially damaging movements healthy, allowing you to safely stretch your back muscles, and they impart that svelte, thin and tall look as a bonus.
Founder, Esther Gokhale Wellness Center
2439 Birch Street, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Author, 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back