Structural Integration focuses not on the muscles but on their protective layer called fascia (also known as connective tissue). Muscles are contracting tissues that give the body and organs physical movement. The fascia surrounds the muscles, bones and organs in the body. The fascia gives muscles their shape and the body its structure.
Structural Integration aligns and balances the body by lengthening and repositioning the fascia. As fascia is lengthened it allows the muscles to move more efficiently. The practitioner will apply pressure to the body, working the entire fascial system in a systematic way. When restricted fascia is released and lengthened the body can return to its structurally optimal position
The continuing pull of gravity, the stress of daily activities and physical injuries can pull the body out of alignment. The fascia gradually shortens, tightens and adjusts to accommodate the misalignment. When the body is out of alignment it creates inefficiency and imbalance resulting in stiffness, discomfort and loss of energy.
When a body is aligned and balanced it moves with greater ease. It requires less energy to function. Good posture is effortless and breathing is easier. The body becomes more flexible, more coordinated and athletic performance improves.
The 10-series of Structural Integration, created by Dr. Ida P Rolf, is a series of ten individual bodywork sessions. Often referred to as "The Recipe" from its origins as instructions handed down over generations, the 10-series originated from Dr. Rolf's teachings throughout the 20th Century and is practiced worldwide. The goal of the 10-series is to help physically realign and center the body to move with greater ease, less pain and more efficiently.
Structural Integration is a process-centered modality; each session progressively builds upon the last. The process of Structural Integration includes balancing the body in segments and achieving vertical alignment from balancing the body from front to back, side to side, top to bottom and inside to outside.
At the beginning of the first session the client completes a health questionnaire and spend some time speaking with their practitioner about the goals and intentions as applied to their unique situation and structure. The practitioner will observe the client, how they stand, walk and other general movements.
The practitioner will apply the appropriate pressure, based on the client's needs and feedback. During most of the sessions the practitioner will help the client to become aware of habitual patterns of movement and imbalances in their body and will help them work toward making changes in these patterns in their daily life.
After the basic 10-series is complete, a client usually allows a period of time for the body to adapt and fully integrate before scheduling additional work. The waiting period can be anywhere from one month to one year based on the client’s unique experience. After the waiting period the client can return for tune-up sessions or advanced sessions to further the process of integration. In some instances practitioners will work with clients in ongoing sessions to achieve specific goals
Dr. Rolf's teaching emphasizes the concept of the personal line of vertical intention, the "Line". The Line passes through the centers of gravity of the body's vertical blocks. The Line, in our concept of the Structurally Integrated human, does not pass through bone, except at the top of the head. In actual fact, this weight-bearing line does pass through bone in all but the most exceptional human structures. Indeed, it was Dr. Rolf's observation that our species had not yet successfully completed its journey to uprightness. The Recipe is designed to offer personal assistance in this evolutionary voyage. The emergence of the unstressed vertical, the Line which passes only through soft tissue is evidence of progress towards this goal. The Line being defined as a set of theoretical points in space is not real, but experiential, and it can be, must be, intentional. The horizon is the horizontal reference for the Line. The shoulder girdle and the pelvic girdle must contain true horizontal balance to define and support vertical extension. The Line goes though the top of the head and through the bottom of the feet to infinity. The Line forms a relationship between the field which is man and the field which is earth, the field of gravity. The Line is transcendental, it relates the realm of material particles, of basic physics to the non-material, the world of energy fields. While Dr. Rolf's metaphysical hypotheses concerning the line are not original, her use of the Recipe as a tool for exploring them is unique. The idea of using a vertical line of extension to integrate one's personal energy field with the energy field of the earth is a compelling idea with both practical and visionary implications. The Guild recognizes the singular importance of the Line as raison d' etre for the Recipe. We believe that the effort to clarify and develop a clear sense of vertical extension should be a path for personal growth. And further, that instruction concerning the Line is an essential educational aspect of the practice of Structural Integration.