Structural Integration - explaining the provenance of Hellerwork & Rolfing.

Arranging the body so that it balances around the actual physical line of gravity is the goal of Structural Integration. However the work is neither so purely physiological that it ignores the experience of the person, nor too ethereal and ungrounded in physical reality. It is a meditation of a high degree. When one experiences an open balance of some part of the body in S.I., it is often with an interior sense of rightness, of recognition of the body as it was always meant to be. At the same time it has all the elegance of a geometry lesson, purified of subjective distortion and confusion. In a sense, Ida Rolf managed what William Blake never did: to combine a scientific understanding with an adequate grasp of soul.

( With apologies to Ed Maupin Phd.)

Over a lifetime encompassing most of the 20th Century, Dr. Ida P. Rolf (1896-1979) developed a body of work that was concerned not so much with the alleviation of symptoms, but with the potential of humans. A formidable woman in many respects, as evidenced by a Phd. in Biochemistry (1920) and a position as a research fellow at the Rockefeller Institute (until she left to raise her two sons in 1929), Ida Rolf encountered Osteopathy, as well as Homoepathy and Yoga through personal and family health issues, and took her interest from the theoretical (to which she brought her considerable scientific powers), to the empirical and practical.

After many years of development, Structural Integration found it's true place in the foundations of the Human Potential movement whose cradle was the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. Here, a new wave of explorers into the human condition understood Rolf's vision of the radical evolutionary nature of her work in a way which established professionals had not fully grasped.

Rolf invented a progressive ten session series of treatment to improve the overall organisation of the human structure in order to communicate her ideas to the lay people she trained. It has proved an enduring template. Some thousands of dedicated practitioners have trained in the schools which have been established and continue to develop Rolf's work, and many tens of thousands of people of all ages have experienced and benefited from the work in the last 40 years

Ed Maupin was one of the first 7 people that Rolf trained at Esalen, and he has characterised the key ideas of Structural Integration as follows:

Gravity: the body must relate continually to the physical force of gravity, Fascia: As we struggle to move in a gravity field, the fascial webwork adapts to support our movement, and the shape slowly changes,
Movement; The theory of movement is based upon a dynamic, expansional relationship with gravity, and is in agreement with the best practices of dance and kinesthesiology
and Geometry; distortions can be analyzed in terms of geometric planes.

"Dr. Rolf developed a 10-session series which reorganizes the body safely and efficiently in a systematic manner. The first three sessions loosen the outer layer of voluntary muscles (the EXTRINSIC LAYER). The next four sessions organize the INTRINSIC LAYER, which is less voluntary, but which determines the relationship with gravity. The last three sessions INTEGRATE the two layers for unified functioning." Ed Maupin

At present students are being trained under the auspices of several different institutes, with training opportunities in Europe, North & South America and Japan and practitioners established in most developed countries. The main teaching organisations are:

The Rolf Institute.(1965)
Hellerwork International llc.(1978)
The Guild for Structural Integration.(1988)
Kinesis Myofascial Integration.(1998)

About the author:

Article written by Roger Golten, Hellerwork Practitioner (1983)
Author of "The Owners Guide to the Body" Thorsons 1999


Author: Roger Golten
Copyright © 2023 Roger Golten. All rights reserved

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