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What happens during a Rolfing SI session?

Rolfing Structural Integration (or Rolfing SI) is a transformative bodywork and somatic education system designed to align and balance the body by restoring its relationship to gravity. By addressing and releasing restrictions within connective tissue called fascia, Rolfing SI encourages the body to recenter and heal itself. Because the road to a more flexible, mobile, pain-free existence is actually a holistic process and not a magic pill or quick fix, a bit of mystery tends to enshroud the work.

People seek Rolfing SI for a variety of reasons. Some want to find relief from chronic pain or increase their flexibility and mobility. Some want better posture. Some want to deepen a spiritual or movement practice while others want to heighten bodily awareness. And then there are those who feel very stuck in their lives as if something within is begging for change, but they do not know quite where to begin. For whatever the reason that people seek Rolfing SI, the desire for change is a common thread.

Many Rolfers will help potential clients determine if Rolfing SI is right for them by offering a complimentary consultation. The consultation is an opportunity to discuss personal goals, review body history, clarify expectations, and answer any questions. If a client decides to proceed, the Rolfer and the client will set an intention for the work. Some clients know right away they want to systematically unclutter their bodies and clear body history, so they decide to commit to ten or more sessions while others just want to dip their toes into the pond and commit to a single session.

Once the initial consultation is complete, the Rolfing SI process, which actually began the moment the client contacted the Rolfer, advances to the actual bodywork session. Rolfing SI sessions begin with a brief check-in and assessment of a client’s structure and function. This usually involves breathing, lifting arms, doing knee bends, walking, or other movements. This assessment clarifies goals, marks progress, and helps to plan subsequent sessions. The client then lies on a padded table or sits on an adjustable bench while the Rolfer uses his or her hands, arms, and bodyweight to put slow, sustained pressure in certain directions on the tissue of the client’s arms, legs, front, and back. Directional pressure helps to reposition fascia, encourage space, or release restriction. Care is taken to integrate and balance the body throughout the session.

Throughout a Rolfing SI session, the client is very much an active participant in the process. For instance, while working on the shoulder, the Rolfer may encourage the client to breathe into the sides of the body or to stretch the arm overhead. A Rolfer may also use slow guided-awareness work to facilitate more efficient and aligned movement or focus on better breathing. A client is strongly encouraged to be “present” at all times during a session while at no time is this client asked to go beyond his or her level of comfort. A Rolfer who feels that her client is ‘checking out’ or bracing against a particular stroke speed or depth of pressure will adjust her approach to meet the needs of the client. Slowly and systematically, the Rolfer works with the client’s nervous system to allow the body to repattern itself at a pace that is effective and comfortable. This coordinated effort encourages reeducation and reprogramming of the body’s movement patterns.

After the session, the client is asked to be present and aware of his or her body and to respond to any needs as they arise. Drinking plenty of water, going for a walk, or taking a warm bath is recommended. To promote and anchor new changes from the session, the client is often given “homework” in the form of movement explorations or encouraged to journal about any awarenesses or realizations that may have surfaced. The client then leaves the session with a new sense of integration in a world of new possibilities for moving, standing, and being.

Victoria L. Huss, is the Certified Rolfer® and Rolf Movement® Integration Practitioner of New Possibilities Integration LLC in Appleton. She finds joy in helping people unfold, find freedom, and authentically express themselves within the challenges of rigidity, chronic pain, and trauma. For a free consultation or more information, visit Rolfing® and Rolfer® are registered trademarks of the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute®.

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