Over the years, I have often heard Structural Integration referred to as a form of ‘deep tissue body work.’ But that description has never really matched up to my vision of the work.
SI’s traditional intent is to support clients’ ability to stand upright within the gravitational field. To achieve this, we attempt to both radially and vertical align the body’s major weight-bearing segments. This means focusing more on the mobility and alignment of these bony segmentations than on the muscle and fascial layers attaching to them. So, the tissue work we do is more a means towards this end than our primary focus.
The systematic mobilization and alignment of these weight-bearing segmentations can and do radically affect a person’s posture and joint biomechanics. The radial aligning of the arms and legs can and does radically affect a person’s gait and movement patterns. And the easing of rotation and torsion between the pelvic and shoulder girdles can and does radically affect the alignment and translation of motion through the spine and the body’s inner vertical core.
But addressing alignment and posture has never really been the ultimate focus of my work either.
My true focus these past forty years has been on enhancing clients’ ability to move and function optimally. Yes, I have worked to mobilize and align the body’s inner structural core and the transverse diaphragms that support its vertical and horizontal integrity. But my primary intent there is to ‘untwist’ and ‘unblock’ the inner core, much as we might untwist a garden hose to support the transfer of water through it.
The intent to reposition and mobilize the body’s bony segmentation in order to affect the transfer of breath and motion through the core demands major perceptual shifts. We must first shift our working focus from the mobilization of the body’s musculature and myofascial layers to the mobilization and repositioning of these bony structures. And then shift again to supporting the transfer of breath and motion through the opened inner core.
I see the body as a totally interconnected system that is constantly in motion. That means I don’t just see strain and rotation in one area of the body. Rather, I see how side-to-side imbalance and rotation in one part of the body rotate and move through the entire body.
I see the body’s structural core as separate from its surrounding bones and myofascial layers and I look for the transverse diaphragms that transect this inner core to be free to move upward and downward within the core. I see the structural core as the body’s primary energetic ‘pump,’ and I see supporting the core’s ability to pump as the primary goal of Structural Integration.
Because when the core can truly pump breath, fluids and chi unimpeded throughout the body, clients can dissipate autonomic strain, fully feel, and be much more emotionally grounded and centered.