Rolfing Structural Integration ®
The Connected Body Rolfing
WHAT CLIENTS SAY....
The hours I spent ROLFing with Romayne were a blissful mix of receiving, active learning and quiet contemplation of my body
I came with a stressed, twitchy shoulder and through gentle holding and releasing, it was cured and I returned to comfort. However, crucially, I also did not continue doing what had caused the problem in the first place because of the education about my body that I had received.
Cycling had given me a sore knee that had come and gone for year. After a couple of sessions, Romayne had me back on the bike with the knee working beautifully AND the knowledge of how to prevent a recurrence. It was remarkable
Romayne, who wears her body wisdom lightly, introduced me session by session to my body. By the end of the 10 session course I had developed an intimate sense of how the different parts are connected, not just at the junctions but from top to toe by the incredible fascia
You gave me an new appreciation for my body and the way I hold and use it, resulting in a new practice of “medicinal walks“ which have the added benefit of slowing me down in a busy world.
I could feel waves of calm through my body, and it was as peaceful as an intense meditation session - perhaps more so. Very powerful.
As a mother of three in her 40s I thought I knew my body fairly well, but Rolfing open the gates to a whole new understanding of the internal workings that underpin my everyday movements. After struggling for years with an ankle injury, I understood the connection between this, my knee, hip and posture.
Rolfing Structural Integration ®- what is it?
ScarWork ® - what is it?
Rolfing Structual Integration is a hands-on approach for working on the body as a 'whole system' of interrelated forces. Rolfers focus on how your use of one part of your body affects other parts, and we work from the top of the head to the feet, and at every level in-between, over a structured course of 10 sessions. Most of my work is done with clients lying on a treatment table, but parts are also done sitting and standing.
My Rolfing status is regulated by professional bodies based in both Europe and the USA. It is recognised as a leading bodywork qualification, and it is not at all uncommon to hear that undergoing a Rolfing Series has a significant and profound impact on clients - in the comfort of their body, and real relief and renewal.
The work can be quite firms/strong when we are addressing specific adhesions or blockages in the tissue as we explore your biomechanics. It can be very light and awakening where the issue is more one of perception and having lost an awareness of relationships between parts of the body. It can be very educative, where people have fixed ideas of how to achieve movement and have lost better alternatives to use.
Questions that I will seek to answer could include
- Do your feet work well in a system with your legs? -- Has your neck become fixed in a single position from looking too long at a computer screen?
- Is your spine able to support you properly while still being flexible and adaptable when you want to play sport?
-Is your knee pain due to a mis-alignment of the joint, because the forces on the bones are pulling in one direction too much?
- Does your body stand straight and balanced or does it never really get upright any more?
Over a series of 10 sessions Rolfing may systematically undo patterns, free up and wake up tissue, build body awareness, and open the door to improved body use. The Rolfing 10 Series is the established way of working - each separate hour awakens and stimulates a different area or system.
Rolfing can be difficult to 'explain' - because it works on a number of levels. It physically frees up tissues which are stuck, it helps you to sense for yourself what resources you have within your own system, and it can adjust the tensions that we impose on ourselves due to our nervous state.
Overall, it is an education about what we are made of and what more freedom we have to deploy in our lives.
Rolfers work primarily through our deep understanding of how fascia works and the role it plays in our bodies. Fascia is now the focus of many different types of treatment and training across different disciplines, but Rolfing Structural Integration has been looking at fascia and how to work with it longer than almost anyone else in the West, and has techniques which have been developed over many years to help you understand and improve your own inner fascial web.
ScarWork is a very light way of re-engaging with the scar tissue and the wider body and mind. It aims to minimise the impact of each scar - to improve the way the scar tissue looks, feels and moves. It can also have a powerful effect on the memory or emotion around a scar.
Whatever the origin of a scar - accident or surgery - it has a material effect on how we hold ourselves, whether we notice it or not. Some scars actively concern individuals - either through how they look or how they feel. But even small scars can have a big impact, and what can seem inconspicuous scars - such as from key hole surgery - can produce effects across the body.
We can also emotionally distance ourselves from damaged parts of the body, or loose sensation and engagement with it. We can 'favour' an area while we allow a scar to heal, and then be so accustomed to the compromised pattern of movement that we never return to our original pattern, and much later suffer 'wear and tear' from that adjusted body use.
The impact of scars can be both emotional and physical, and we can avoid using or even looking at parts of our body. Sometimes even touching a scar on our body can be uncomfortable because of the emotional impact.
ScarWork is very light and works from the surface down at a pace that can be accepted by you. We can start a long way from a scar and work towards it over time if that is necessary.
ScarWork was developed by a Rolfer, Sharon Wheeler, using her Rolfing perception and knowledge of how the body works as a balanced system.
FASCIA - what is it?
Fascia is currently everywhere in sport science, pain management and fitness discussions. It has been described as one of the largest organs of the body, but we tend to think of organs as specialised discrete units. Fascia actually lies between these in a 3D web - enveloping muscles and joining them to bones, attaching bones to bones, surrounding organs, strengthening them, keeping them in the right position, and transmitting biomechanical forces around the body. It has a role to play in fluid dynamics, sensation and transmission of infection. It is the most common material in the body, and in its various forms has names you would recognise - tendons, membranes, ligaments. It is essentially the white stuff you see when you look at meat - sometimes thick and strong, sometimes thin and filmy.
Fascia is essentially the fabric of the body, and it is not inert. It is constantly modulated, replenished and replaced by specialised cells, and it will adapt to demands placed on it - if we want more strength, the fascia will be laid down to accommodate that, but if we don't use a part of our fascia - by not loading or moving a part of our body regularly - the characteristic of the fascia will change in response.
Rolfing Structural Integration has been looking at fascia and how to work with it for many years, and helps you understand and improve your own inner fascial web.
The Origins of Rolfing
Ida Rolf had an exceptional understanding of ways in which people found ways to move - some ways were much more efficient, effective and economical than others. She had an early and brilliant perception of fascia, and how to work on it. She identified the way in which fascia - the most abundant fabric in our body - had been mostly overlooked by anatomists and doctors and she developed a method of working directly on it and getting real change. She saw that working with gravity rather than 'fighting' it was possible if she woke up the material which was best designed for the task. She tuned in to a system which western society had not understood. Looking at other practices around the world, it is clear that other cultures have used this approach. But Rolf's approach was systematic, direct and adapted to working directly, hands-on over a series of 10 sessions. She was a PhD in Biochemistry at a time when female scientists were vanishingly rare, and she had a rare ability to take information from huge range of sources and see the underlying principles of how bodies are used and could be improved. Her insights and teachings have been further developed by the Rolfing Community and continue to be developed across the world.
Ida Rolf, PhD, 1896 - 1979
What does Rolfing SI aim to do?
Rolfing develops your own perception and use your body. Instead of pushing the body harder in the way we already use our body - more weights, more repetitions, a 'no pain no gain' mentality while working in the gym - the intention is to undo habits and open up new ways of moving and perceiving. It is not at all unusual that what is the original 'problem' which makes someone visit a Rolfer is actually the consequence of not having an ability to recruit another part of the body properly. An example of where a knee is 'bad' could be the result of not being able to work the other leg properly at the ankle, and the 'bad' consequence comes from the other side having to overwork to compensate and adapt Or a 'bad' shoulder can be caused by needing the extra stability of a tightened shoulder to compensate for poor support from the spine. The solution for these problems is not to add more tension and strength but to undo the imbalance and wake up whatever has not been properly recruited into your movement.
'Undoing' is simple to say, but more difficult to achieve. Physical work on a tissue area, plus changing the level of inner perception about movement. plus patience and careful education work together in Rolfing Structural Integration.
What is the 10 Series?
The 10 Series is the name Rolfing SI gives to the way we work over 10 visits. No commitment is needed up front from you, but I'd advise to experience at least the first 3 visits as a sold basis for deciding if you are benefitting from the work. Each of the 10 sessions has an aim - for instance, the first hour aims to improve the breath, the second works typically from the knees down to help the lower leg and feet work in a better fashion together..
Can I do ScarWork without Rolfing?
Yes, of course. ScarWork is a separate type of work, but it often works very well with Rolfing. Clients often get more appreciation of the potential of Rolfing SI work on their fascia and then go on to Rolfing. Or during a Rolfing 10 Series it may become clear that some focussed work on a scar would be helpful.
What people or conditions are suitable for Rolfing?
Often people find Rolfing when they have chronic discomfort or pain, having tried lots of other things first. But others come because they want to improve their 'posture' or feel that they are getting stiffer and losing capacity quicker than they should. Others come from a sense that they want to educate themselves about how they move, or rehabilitate after an accident or operation. Some come because they have read about the overall benefits it may bring in terms of outlook and sense of balance. Others simply come because something about it intrigues them or their friends recommended it. There is no single reason to try Rolfing, it can offer benefits on many levels and is suitable for almost all.
Is it painful?
The strength of the work on some of the larger muscles depends on how stiff the fascia is or how you perceive strong sensations in them. Your Rolfer will work within your own boundaries, checking to ensure you are comfortable. Work in the smaller and finer muscles is very sensitive and delicate. The sensation of fascia being worked can be an unusual one at first, but it becomes very interesting and stimulating as you learn how to tune into it. Your Rolfer and you are in a partnership during the Series, it is not a passive treatment and you are always free to say if you are not comfortable with the work in any way and suitable adjustments made. It is, after all, your body. Rolfers have huge respect for both the tissue they are working on but also the person they are working with. I do not encourage clients to have no-pain-no-gain attitude as it can be counterproductive. However, I also encourage questioning about the sensation itself, noticing what exactly is being felt.
What happens in a Session?
Sessions last approximately an hour or slightly more. We always have some conversation about how your body feels to you, what you have noticed. Then we spend a little time looking at your body use, typically in standing and walking. Then the hands-on session would typically be with you on the treatment table, made comfortable and warm. Rolfing looks somewhat like a specialised massage, for want of a better image. There is typically some time at the end to help notice and consider what your body has noticed. The intent is not one of judgement or fault finding, but one of exploration, education and potential for something new at a deep level. The gap between sessions can be around one week, or somewhat longer, but should not be not too spread out. The whole 10 series has a type of internal momentum, each session building on the previous ones and setting up the subsequent ones.
How do I start?
Contact me on TheConnectedBodyRolfing@gmail.com so we can have a conversation about your expectations of Rolfing SI, and what it is that you are looking for. If we agree that the work seems appropriate for you we can set up a first appointment . If you wish to continue then subsequent appointments can be booked for a few sessions ahead. I work in West London, W14.
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