p class=”MsoNormal” style=”text-align: justify; direction: ltr; unicode-bidi: embed;”>In our childhood some of us have heard the expression “straighten up”, “stop slouching” and other expressions intended to improve one’s posture. Practically making an effort to straiten up is short term and based on force. That is why the bad posture returns to the starting point after a few minutes later.
There are several methods that work on improving posture. Each one takes a different point of view to bring the body into better alignment. Yoga works on extending the joints, flexibility and strengthening the body. These elements allow the body to be in its center. In the Alexander technique there is focus on how the skull is placed on the first cervical vertebra and the direction the practitioner gives to the client’s body. Here we will address Rolfing or Structural Integration.
This technique was developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D. Through her in-depth studies, she concluded that “gravity is the teacher”. Gravity is the field in which we grow and develop. It is not only a force to resist but has the potential for having correct posture. In the field of gravity we use the gravitational resistance to find our center. We want to reach the place were we are not fighting gravity but rely on it to get to correct posture.
Another idea is that the support system holding everything in place is “fascia”. Fascia is a network of thin sheets of connective tissue made with mostly collagen. This network is keeping the body’s posture according to the way we use it. Based on this idea she developed a series of 10 sessions. In these sessions the practitioner is helping the body and the fascia to return to a more correct and efficient place in the body through deep touch and specific movements the client does. This creates a possibility for a significant physical and emotional change. To understand how this is possible we have to look at this presumption: “posture is an expression of the emotional truth portrayed by a person at any given moment and as a permanent truth of the inner belief system by which he/she lives”.
When we are happy we usually straiten up expressing the livelihood and joy we feel at that moment. On the other hand when we are lonely or sad we slouch and shorten. These are momentary changes. When we see a person whose posture has shortened we can ask what is the load that he is carrying on his shoulders. And if this weight is there for a long period of time it becomes the physical truth the man or woman is expressing in day to day life.
The posture is arranged around a center line call “the core”. This is an imaginary line in the center of the body that is used when we evaluate a person’s posture. It is also a sensation that one can learn to feel in the process of receiving Structural Integration (Rolfing).
Emmett Hutchins, one of the most senior teachers of Structural Integration says he does not leave the house without finding his core every morning. This saying teaches us that we can learn, experience, shift our consciousness and our body towards the line or core. When we are in our center the possibility to experience happiness, joy, peace, love increases tremendously because the inner space of the body has more room to feel it. Other “side effects” are relief and diminish of pains and aches like neck pain, back pain, knee pain, feet pains and more. At early ages O and X legs can be helped.
It is easier to change the posture of children for it is softer and more pliable than adults. Even so changes can happen at any age. The difference is that the fascia hardens. Genetics, nutrition, emotional and physical trauma and environmental pollution all influence the hardening of the fascial network.
People come to receive sessions for many reasons starting with back aches, neck pain, scoliosis, improving posture and more. One of the things that characterizes Structural Integration is that is does not treat only the presenting problem but looks at how it is expressed in the body. So each person will get the specific attention they need in the framework developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf Ph.D.
To sum things up, Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that helps a person reach a higher awareness of his body and its center through touch and movement which organizes the fascial network of the body around its center in a more efficient way. This brings comfort, health, improvement in posture and physical and emotional space of the person.