What is Structural Integration (SI)? SI is a somatic therapy developed from the roots of Osteopathy and Hatha Yoga. With the intention of restoring balance and function, SI utilizes fascial manipulation, awareness, and movement education. Gravity is a powerful and ubiquitous force in our lives that can either support us like the rock sculpture above, or drag us down. The stresses of daily life, physical injuries, unhealthy movement patterns and attitudes are things that can take a toll on one’s physical structure. In a misaligned state, the body's valuable resources are used inefficiently, laboring to keep a person upright. Over time, the body will shorten, tighten and twist to accommodate stresses, creating stiffness, pain, fatigue and lack of well being. When that happens, we loose our potential for the grace and ease of Expansional Balance, and often rationalize that discomfort to ourselves as the inevitable effects of getting old. Structural Integration changes all that.
The Four Parts of Expansional Balance as described by Ed Maupin, PhD in "A Dynamic Relationship to Gravity".
"Opening Movements of the Michuan T'ai Chi Sword Form", Self-Portrait and Study of Expansional Balance.
What does that mean?
How is that accomplished? We begin by bringing muscles and joints back into proper relationship with the body as a whole. Using intention, movement, breath and a nudge in the right direction, we systematically and sustainably reshape the body into its strongest, most balanced, and resilient form. Since the body as a system can only accept so much information and/or change at one time, we most often work in cycles, with each session preparing the body for the next. Three sessions are able to address many superficial issues, but a full series of ten sessions is needed to work with the core structures of the body and integrate the profound changes that take place. As Ed Maupin says, "[The Ten Series of SI] offers a systematic plan for taking an old structure apart and replacing it with a new, more efficient one, and it leaves the body balanced enough, physically and emotionally, to deal with so much change." In a Series of Ten Sessions, the whole body can fall into place as you discover the potential for new ways of moving, experiencing and conversing with your body. Truly, "a more humane use of human beings".
How is that even possible? The body is a composed, (you could even say 'orchestrated') by a plastic medium known as Fascia, or Connective Tissue. The material of your shampoo bottle is called 'plastic' to describe its ability to permanently change shape, without loosing its internal coherance, when the required energy and guidence is added to the system. Fascia shares those properties and forms an endless web of tensional bands that hold all the little pieces (bones and muscles) of the body together in a resilient and adaptable structure. You could easily imagine the fabric of a tent which holds all of the poles together. Through their support, the fabric gains form, and through form, function. What began looking like a lumpy and useless pillow, became a warm, dry protective shelter as its parts were integrated into a whole. In the body, the same principles apply. With the Rolf Method of Structural Integration, we are able to lengthen, derotate and integrate the human body towards a more balanced and functional form. The Rolf Method is indeed change you can believe in.
How was this system developed? We can all thank a women by the name of Ida Pauline Rolf, for her insatiable curiosity, and conviction that on every level, people can change. By all reports, she was a daunting woman. Ida recieved her Doctorate in Organic Chemistry from Columbia University in 1920, a time when it was exceedingly hard to recieve such advanced education for a women, especially in the Sciences. But she would not be deterred. Through her work at the Rockefeller Institute, she found how limited chemically based, allopathic medicine truly was. She continued to ask questions, and along with her own research distilled from the roots of Osteopathy, Yoga, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Method, and General Semantics among many other modalities. In the early 50s, her research had coelesced into the Rolf Method of Structural Integration, and by the 60s, the Guild for Structural Integration had been formed.