Rolf Method Of Structural Integration
Ida P. Rolf believed that the body is like clay and can be remolded into a more efficiently functioning structure. In the 1950’s, she developed the Rolf Method of Structural Integration (SI) to relieve chronic pain, to increase flexibility, and to improve posture. SI is a form of bodywork that restores balance within the body by removing strained patterns in the myo-fascial system. Through the use of hands-on, massage like techniques, and a series of ten sessions that addresses the whole body, SI raises ones awareness about how to be more fluid within the field of gravity.
“When the body gets working (and moving) appropriately the force of gravity can flow
through. Then, the body can heal itself.” - Ida P. Rolf
Just as important as the hand on manipulation is training the body to move fluidly. The structure is wrapped in a lifetime of muscle and fascial memory/patterning that must be re- educated to increase energy, relieve chronic pain, improve posture, and embody grace. This is accomplished by a variety of movement cues, postures, and stretches.
Mindfulness is used as a tool to train the more subtle aspect of our life where habitual habits are created. Mindfulness is one of the more important aspects of changing the body, and brings about body awareness in a way that tissue manipulations has its limitations. Mindful breath and other movement exercises are assigned throughout the process of the ten series to deepen the experience.
How does it work?
Ida Rolf created a recipe that is broken down into a series of 10 sessions. Each session focuses on a different part of the body, and has a specific intent. Sessions take place once a week and in some cases up to three times a week. Clients are worked on in their underwear. The tissue is palpated, or touched, feeling for imbalances in texture, quality and temperature to determine where the work needs to take place. Attending to the areas where adhered fascial layers need separating and muscles that have been pulled out of position by strain or injury. Finally, the body is integrated, relating its segments in an improved relationship, bringing physical balance in the gravitational field. As Ida Rolf used to say: “Anyone can take a body apart, very few know how to put it back together”. The true genius of her method is the art and science of reshaping and reorganizing human structure according to clearly defined principles in a systematic and consistent manner.
What is the difference between Rolfing (SI) and massage?
A common misconception is that Rolfing (SI) is a form of deep tissue massage. Usually after one session the client will quickly realize that Rolfing is nothing like a massage. The intention of Rolfing is unique. Ida Rolf said that Rolfers are educators. Part of a Rolfer’s job is to assist the client in increasing their awareness and self understanding. It is an exploratory process with the goal of empowering the client to own the work completed and to take charge of their physical and emotional health. Eventually, the practitioner should become obsolete within the client’s process.
Is Rolfing painful?
I have found that most people who have opinions about Rolfing being painful have never experienced the process. Much of this reputation for pain came from the early days when Structural Integration was first gaining public recognition. Since that time the process has greatly evolved. As far as the actual experience is concerned, the area being worked will vary in sensation and feeling depending upon injuries to an area or holding of chronic stress as well as other factors. Feelings can range from pleasurable release to momentary discomfort. I liken it to the sensation that one might feel during an intense yoga class or an uphill run, it may be uncomfortable in the moment but the results far outweigh the momentary discomfort. The relationship between client and practitioner is one of trust and comfort and the client is always in charge of the pressure being applied.