A Brief History of Structural Integration

Dr. Ida P. Rolf earned her PhD in biochemistry in 1920 and worked as a research scientist for Rockefeller Institute for 13 years. As a lifelong practitioner and instructor of yoga, she combined her scientific background and experiential knowledge to gradually develop a system of body work which she termed Structural Integration (S.I.). S.I. evolved into a series of 10 separate sessions designed to bring the entire body into balance and vertical alignment. “Rolfing” as Dr. Rolf’s 10 sessions treatment protocol came to be called gained popularity in the late 1960s with the growth of the human potential psychology movement.

In 1976, three years before Dr. Rolf’s death the terms “rolfing and “rolfer” became the service marks of the Rolf Institute in Boulder Colorado. Practitioners of Dr. Rolf’s work who are not affiliated with the Boulder school continue to utilize the term Structural Integration to describe her work.

Since Dr. Rolf’s death, many senior instructors and practitioners have established S.I. Programs that utilize different techniques and names but still remain true to Dr. Rolf’s basis intention and the 10 sessions protocol.

About Dr. Rolf’s 10 Session Series

At its most fundamental level, Structural Integration attempts to systematically mobilize and rebalance the body’s physical components around a vertical line. Dr. Rolf’s 10-session organizational recipe assists our clients to move from physical imbalance to balance.

Session One:

Sessions 1-3 focus on the mobilization and repositioning of the body’s outer (extrinsic) layers of muscle and connective tissue. Session One begins the process of mobilizing both the shoulder and pelvic girdles at a superficial level.

Session Two:

Session Two creates a more balanced and stable base of support for the entire body by focusing on the lower legs, ankles and feet.

Session Three:

Session Three focus upon untwisting the body’s entire extrinsic myofascial “envelope” while continuing to reposition and balance both the shoulder and pelvic girdles.

Session Four:

Sessions 4 -7 focuses on the-ability for movement to transfer smoothly through the deeper (intrinsic) layers of the body. This session specifically attends to the structural balance and transfer of motion through the inner legs, lower pelvis, and back.

Session Five:

This session begins the process of releasing the deeper holding patterns within the intrinsic layers of the groin, abdomen and thorax. Specific attention is given to the mobility of the respiratory diaphragm and motion through the inner torso.

Session Six:

The 6th session eases remaining imbalances or rotations between the legs, pelvis, sacrum and spine. As these basic structural relationships change, long-term movement patterns and spinal imbalances can be addressed.

Session Seven:

This session completes the initial organization of the intrinsic layers closest to the body’s vertical center (core). Specific attention is given to aligning the head and neck to the body’s vertical center, the mobility of the cranial bones and the balance between the cranial base and vault.

Sessions Eight and Nine:

These sessions focus on the balanced relationship between the body’s extrinsic and intrinsic layers. The job of balancing the entire body while supporting the integrity of motion through the core is divided equally between Sessions Eight and Nine.

Session Ten:

The last session completes the overall balancing of the body’s inner and outer layers. Specific attention is given to aligning and creating balance between the joints of the arms and legs and  between the torso’s cross-sectional diaphragms or horizontal planes.