ROLF STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION
What is Rolf Structural Integration (SI)?
ROLF STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION (also known as Rolfing™) is a systematic process of releasing and unwinding the entire body’s myofascial tissue network, along with movement education, so that you lengthen, align and literally feel freer in your skin. It is a journey of becoming at ease in your body while the body becomes at ease within its environment.
The attention on fascia is what distinguishes Rolf SI from other forms of bodywork. Fascia is also called connective tissue or the “living matrix” because it wraps around and through every part of the body, including all your organs, muscles, bones and nerve fibers. When we affect one part, we affect the whole matrix. It can be pictured as a 3-dimensional spider web. Fascia thickens and shortens due to poor posture, trauma, inflammation, injuries and life’s daily stresses. Releasing constricted fascia facilitates profound and lasting shifts on myriad levels, physical and metaphysical.
SI effectively releases fascial restrictions, which improves alignment, frees up energy and enhances the function of every system in the body, including breathing, digestion, circulation and the nervous system.
As physical armoring dissolves, cell-memory and long-held emotional blocks often gently unwind as well. In this way, we have a visceral experience of the mind-body continuum.
Fascia is the subject of growing research within scientific and healthcare circles because of its multi-dimensional role within the body.
To read more about the profound qualities of fascia, click here.
One of the main goals of Rolf SI is to align the body within gravity, continually encouraging the body toward its vertical axis (which has bioenergetic and metaphysical implications as well as physical*). As posture improves, we experience a sense of lightness, as if we’re being lifted up rather than gravity pushing us down. Chronic holding patterns take a lot of energy to maintain. As we release constriction, we free up previously wasted energy and the body becomes more efficient. It becomes easy to stand straight and requires less effort to do the same amount of work.
Studies and clinical observation repeatedly show the benefits of Rolf SI for:
Clients are welcome to try a single or a few sessions to target and address their specific concerns.
Traditional Rolf SI, as developed by Ida Rolf, PhD, is 10 sessions, each one with a unique theme that builds upon the previous session and leads into the next. In this way, we systematically work through the entire body and address all fascial layers (including superficial, deep, visceral and cranial). The first session is highly therapeutic on its own and gives a taste of what's to come.
As habitual strain patterns ease throughout the body, chronic pain is often alleviated. Ida Rolf said, “Where you think it is it ain’t.” Rather than focusing only where pain is, the intention of Rolf SI is to physically and energetically align and balance the whole body.
“Any practitioner of Structural Integration…knows
that all points of the
body house the ‘I’…Our experience further indicates that well-being
does not merely manifest the physiological competence of individual parts,
but rather indicates relationship among parts, and more important,
between the man and earth’s energy field.”
- Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing
Do The Changes Last?
Yes. The standard 10-series has an accumulative affect.
The body continues to unwind between sessions and even months after the 10-series is complete. In fact, much of the dramatic changes we observe with SI occur between sessions. Clients’ newfound awareness of subtle body sensations and habits is key to the lasting shifts they experience.
Photographs of clients months and years after completing the 10-series show that their bodies continue to evolve toward the shifts.
When we encourage the body in the right direction, it will continue on the new path with proper awareness.
“As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”
- Dr. William Sutherland, founder of Cranial Osteopathy
Does Rolf SI Hurt?
No. In my practice, the quality of touch is slow, mindful and specific. Sometimes there may be momentary discomfort as old pain and restricted tissue releases. It is an intense process on many levels, but not due to pain.
What Training Do Rolf Practitioners Have?
I am certified through The Guild for Structural Integration and studied with Dr. Rolf’s original students, who have been practicing and teaching for 30 to 40 years.
Prerequisite to training, potential students must go through the 10-series themselves. They are required to have extensive anatomy and physiology knowledge as well as basic education in massage or other touch therapy. The in-residence training totals more than 1000 hours, during which time students take several models through the 10-series while also receiving the series again themselves. Lectures and experiential anatomy deepen students’ understanding of the nature of fascia and the unique philosophy of Rolf Structural Integration. Another important and unique aspect of Rolf SI training is learning to “see” relationships throughout the body while the client is standing and moving. Students observe hundreds of hours of clients going through the entire 10-series before they personally begin to “rolf” anyone. In this way, practitioners hone their eyes, seeing how myofascial patterns relate to postural balance or imbalance. A thesis paper is required for graduation and certification.
What Is Fascia?
Rolf SI releases fascia. Fascia, also known as connective tissue, can be pictured as a three dimensional spider web of fibrous tissue that surrounds and travels through every part of the body. It creates the shape of our body and can be re-shaped like clay. In fact, if you remove everything except fascia, one could still recognize you as you. It seems to hold the personality of our body. Current research suggests that trauma and emotional history are recorded in fascial tissue. SI practitioners often experience that fascial release and emotional releases coincide.
Dr. Rolf referred to the vertical polarity within the body as “The Line”, which is a felt experience rather than lying along specific anatomical landmarks. She observed that as random tissues become more organized toward vertical, people have more energy, greater ease of movement and chronic pain often disappears. The mystical Line is found in every ancient healing and esoteric system I’ve come across. Cultivating awareness of the body’s energetic central channel is a powerful consciousness-raising practice.
“True verticality, the goal of Structural Integration,
is a functional phenomenon,
a line around which the body’s energy fields balance. They manifest
in real myofascial material structures…The vertical expresses an energy
relation between Earth and sun.”
- Ida P. Rolf, PhD.
What Is The Connection Between Rolf SI and Energy?
Recent studies suggest that the meridians of Chinese medicine flow through fascia. Since the focus of Rolf SI is to release restrictions throughout the body’s web of fascial tissue, when we are doing so, we are also directly stimulating the meridians. This would explain the noticeable increase of energy people often report during the Rolf SI process, as well as psycho-spiritual shifts.