Rolfing: Structural Integration
"Rolfing remembers what we dismembered."
INTRODUCTION: A Metaphor
Rolfing is like a journey: for some, it is a trip to the store; for others, a summer vacation with the family, and still for others, it is a month on the beach. For those of us who become Rolfers, the process is more like a pilgrimage. For some, the journey will last only a session; for others, the entire ten sessions, and still for others, lifetimes. And like all journeys, you can’t really plan them or describe them; you can only experience them, allowing the magic of each step along the way to work its wonders.
Over a period of 40 years, Ida Rolf, who received a Ph.D in bio-chemistry from Columbia University in 1920 and who died in 1979, expanded and refined her knowledge of the human body until she systemized it into a method of connective tissue manipulation. She called her method, Structural Integration. In the ‘50s she began to teach others her method, but it wasn’t until the late ‘60s when she was teaching at the California growth center, Esalen, that her method became known as Rolfing.
The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration was founded in 1971 as an educational and scientific research organization. Only those individuals who are trained by the Rolf Institute have the legal right to call themselves Rolfers.
THE NATURE OF THE JOURNEY
Rolfing is a scientifically validated system of connective tissue manipulation which facilitates the integration of your body’s structure so that gravity will support your body instead of tearing it down.
Through a sequence of ten sessions, the Rolfer nudges your body into an integrated structure. The first seven sessions focus progressively in certain segments of your body; the last three sessions organize your body into a balanced, integrated whole.
I accomplish the integration of your body by first evaluating your structure. Then in your underwear or swimsuit or something comparable, you lie on a padded table, and I apply the right amount of pressure to the restricted areas of your body. In order to assist your body in freeing and realigning itself, I may ask you to breathe into the area that is being worked, to move it, or to imagine the area changing.
The Wonders Along The Way
Rolfing is often perceived as a change within the tissue of the body. How you personally perceive that change will depend on your attitude, sensitivity, and intention. Of course, when you are not familiar with a sensation, you may label it as discomfort. But Rolfing doesn’t produce a discomfort like the touch of a hot stove. Rolfing supports a letting go of outmoded holding patterns, and whenever we let go of the familiar, we are presented with the unfamiliar, and that can create moments of discomfort. However you will find that any discomfort of the unfamiliar is eventually transformed into the pleasure and excitement of the new.
At the end of the basic ten sessions, you may experience a lift through the middle of your body like a rise of water in a fountain, and then, along the outer surface of your body, you may experience a relaxation, like the falling of the fountain water – back to its source.
Individuals of all ages seek Rolfing, and the common denominator of their motives is the desire for transformation. Some seek help with chronic pain, impaired joint mobility, or stressed-out bodies. Others seek to enhance their appearances, their athletic or artistic performances. And still others seek Rolfing for personal growth. But they all seek to transform themselves, much in the way that the caterpillar seeks to become the butterfly.
The Journey's Benefits: A Summary
At most, the integration of your body will transform your life. On a more practical level, 1) most of your joints will decompress which may make you taller but will make you feel taller. 2) Your muscles will move more efficiently with less effort. 3) Stored fat may be repositioned. 4) Your breathing will become easier and fuller. 5) Pain which is a result of postural imbalances may diminish or disappear, but most importantly your body will become your native land instead of a foreign country.
- Decreases pain
- Improves performance
- Provides options
- Improves breathing
- Improves body image
- Decompresses the spine
I graduated from the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics in Albuquerque New Mexico in 1984. The school was a six month residential program providing a thousand hours of education.read more >>