More About Structural Integration
If you can imagine how it feels to have a fluid, light, balanced body, free of pain, stiffness and chronic stress, at ease with itself and the earth's gravitational field, then you will understand the goals of Structural Integration.
People from all walks of life and all ages come for Structural Integration not only for relief from their pain and stress, but also for improved performance in their professions and daily activities. Structural Integration can provide relief from impaired mobility and/or chronic pain due to injuries, repetitive occupational and exercise postures, automobile accidents and accumulated stress of daily living. Structural Integration is a process of re-education of the body through movement and touch. It systematically releases patterns of stress and impaired function.
The primary focus of Structural Integration is facilitating the relationship between gravity and the human body. Much like a sculptor works with clay, a Structural Integration Practitioner works with the connective tissue in a ten series protocol to balance the body around a natural vertical axis. By gradually stretching, lengthening and repositioning the fascia, the soft tissue is restored to its normal length and flexibility. The practitioner utilizes deep gentle pressure to free fascial restrictions and open up the layers, resulting in a more balanced, symmetrical system, which allowing for more graceful movement and greater ranges of flexibility. Structural Integration changes the body's compensations by organizing the imbalances in the tissue, working out old habit patterns and compensations in favor of more ergonomic ways of being.
Structural Integration is a very personal process. It is important to remember that because no two people are alike, experiences and benefits can vary. People usually gain one inch or more in height, posture improves, breathing capacity and overall energy increase with greater self-confidence and awareness. Any imbalance in the body, no matter what the cause, is imprinted as change in the internal structural and has a long range and cumulative effect. The body may attempt to return to its original state, but without assistance it remains misaligned. This natural response to the injury changes the entire body's relationship to the gravitational field, and the neuromuscular system is re-patterned as part of this process. Chemically it is the collagen in the fascia that enables it to change. The practitioner utilizes the appropriate pressure and combines the client's breath and movement to free the shortened tissue. While Structural Integration is primarily concerned with physical changes in the body, it affects the whole person. We are made up of emotions, attitudes, belief systems and behaviour patterns. Align the physical structure and it will open up the individual's potential. As Structural Integration reduces chronic bodily tension it becomes easier to feel emotions and other sensations.
Many people experience significant releases of negative emotional memories from past experiences. Clients often report positive changes, stating less stress, greater self-confidence and improved ability to handle life's changes. Such changes have been reported in all age groups. Structural Integration lasts. Photographs taken of clients years after the Basic Ten Series show that changes were still present and structure often improved. Keep in mind however, as life changes, bodies change in response. All injuries, accidents, lengthy illnesses and emotional stress may necessitate additional work. When the basic ten series is completed, it is recommended that a client allow a period of six months to a year to pass to allow time for integration of the body. After the waiting period, clients may return for post ten work or the Advanced Five Series, to further the integration of balance, movement and awareness. The human body is so plastic that its alignment can be brought into harmony with gravity at practically anytime in life.
"An unbalanced body will compensate to combat the downward pull of gravity. The resulting distress is cumulative, the body becomes more and more out of balance as time passes." This is the Gospel of Structural Integration, "When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then spontaneously, the body heals itself." Dr. Ida P. Rolf
Dr. Ida P. Rolf was the founder of Structural Integration. In 1920 she earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. For twelve years she worked at the Rockefeller Institute in the Chemotherapy and Organic Chemistry Departments. Dr. Rolf explored Osteopathy, Chiropractic Medicine, Tantric Yoga, the Alexander Technique, Homeopathic Medicine and Korzybski's work on the conciousness. By the 1940's she had developed and experienced many breakthroughs with the work she did on chronically disabled persons unable to find help elsewhere. During her scientific research, she made a fundamental discovery about the body: the same network of connective tissue which contains and links the muscle system when it's healthy can be used to reshape it when it's been pulled out of proper order. Dr. Rolf further refined her technique and developed a training program to insure that this important work would continue. There are 2 schools that conduct Dr. Rolf's training, The Guild for Structural Integration, www.rolfguild.org and the Rolf Institute. Both are involved in research to enhance the understanding of gravity's relationship to the human structure. Graduates are required to have extensive knowledge in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, body awareness and a mature sensitivity to psychological mediation.
Erin May graduated from The Guild for Structural Integration in Boulder Colorado in 1994. She returned to Thunder Bay to open The Bodymind Centre, a complimentary health care facility. Erin has continued her learning with trainings in Reiki, Healing Touch and Craniosacral Therapy. She is currently in her 2nd year of a two year Yoga Teacher Certification program with the Esther Myers Studio in Toronto. Erin is also finishing her B.Sc. Psych, specializing in Neuropsychology. She completed her Advanced Structural Integration training in 2002 and is a Certified Structural Awareness Movement Teacher.
Structural Integration is a tool for changing how you define your body and your life. It releases stress in the system and brings new balance and openess to the body.