I know a little bit about a lot of things but I don’t really know enough about Rolfing…
When I first became enamored with yoga back in 1995, at the jivamukti yoga center on Second Avenue in Manhattans East Village, I bought all of the books that their small shop had to offer. I put them on my bookshelf where they sat unread for a number of years. I looked at them but couldn’t get a handle on the content.
Especially the Yoga Sutras—the translation and commentary by Swami Satchitananda was the favorite at jivamukti and I read good chunks of it without having a clue what i was reading. While I am not dumb—I had read a lot of western philosophy with the same lack of success—it was frustrating to feel dumb. But hey, I tried.
One of the books that I bought and didn’t read at first might have the longest title of any book ever—Rolfing: Reestablishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being.
Years later, when I opened my own yoga center and decided to offer a teacher training, I dove into the Rolfing book with abandon and I’d say that I designed my walking program with Rolfing in mind.
Ida Rolf, the creator of the practice, was born in the Bronx, went to Barnard College and received a PHD in biochemistry from Columbia University. She developed the system of structural integration that became known as Rolfing in the 1920’s.
Rolf’s idea was to manipulate the fascia of the body so that the body could better relate to the forces of gravity that endlessly work on the upright form. Fascia is a connective tissue that covers the entire body like a web. Directly below the skin there is a layer of fascia that covers the entire body but the fascia also wraps around each individual muscles fiber, as well as muscles, as well as muscle groups.
Ida Rolf didn’t discover fascia but she did figure out the effect it could have on our bodies and our posture. This discovery alone makes her one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century. She was one of a number of women who tore the cover off of the understanding of the body and its workings. These women need a lot more credit than they receive.
I don’t really believe that much in structured study or school but if I were to study anything in more depth it would be Rolfing.