The Rolfing Technique of Structural Integration and the practice of yoga asanas have a lot common. Both are disciplines that can refine our structure and alignment in the field gravity.
The path of yoga provides a journey towards personal evolution, as does Rolfing. Both yoga and Rolfing are transformational processes that ignite growth, self-awareness and change.
While yoga has been around for over 5,000 years, Dr. Ida Rolf, a biochemist from the Bronx began to develop Rolfing in the 1920’s. Over the course of 30 years she formed this unique bodywork technique that stretches and repositions the connective tissue wrappings of muscles to enhance breath, posture, alignment and movement.
Rolfing, like yoga, is based upon the premise that efficient, effortless movement is the hallmark of a well aligned body. One of Dr. Rolf’s great contributions was the idea of balancing the body in the field of gravity. If it is well organized, gravity will support and lift up the human body, rather than pushing it down.
The practice of yoga was originally done to prepare the body for the rigors of sitting meditation. Today yoga students commonly seek a strong, flexible and well aligned body. Yoga holds the promise of achieving spiritual and physical transcendence for many who practice.
The word “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means to join or unite. In the standing pose Tadasana, the mountain pose, you plant your feet firmly on the floor, and simultaneously direct your head to upwards to the heavens. In this pose, intention and energy are summoned to strengthen vitality. Yogic practice has certain common principles including; breathing deeply, lengthening the body and grounding through the earth. Each pose stretches and strengthens us, connecting us with our inherent wholeness. We feel more connected ourselves and to all that we know. The simple gesture of putting our hands in prayer position over our heart helps us acknowledge and honor ourselves, as well as the universe.
Rolfing, like yoga also provides a path towards physical, emotional and sometimes spiritual transformation. The 10 session Rolfing series cultivates each client’s unique potential.
The alignment of the structure affects the health of the psyche. For example, Rolfing can help you feel your feet more firmly rooted to the earth, more grounded. The implications are far reaching. Each step can feel more stable. This can translate into feeling greater strength and stability in your life and in the world.
It is interesting to note that once the work of a Rolfing session has been completed, the process of change in the body continues over subsequent weeks and months. Change of structure gives rise to change in movement patterns, which then further enhance the structure.
Rolfing and Yoga have a synergistic relationship. While each one alone has the power to transform, together they are a dynamic duo.
During the course of your Rolfing series it is sometimes suggested that you practice yoga as it can enhance the effects of the Rolfing. Similarly, yoga practitioners often notice improvements in their yoga practice. Typically, Rolfing will produce a growth spurt for yoga practitioners. Certain poses will suddenly be easier and fuller.
Rolfing is perhaps one of the best ways to recover from injury. It’s easy to over do it in sports or yoga. Rolfing balances the tensions throughout the body and restores healthy biomechanics. As your body becomes better aligned in gravity, chronic limitations give way and nagging injuries often resolve.
Dr. Rolf considered yoga to be one of the influences that helped her to develop Structural Integration. Her vision of humans well balanced in the field of gravity is available to everyone.