Rolfing Insight

       Posture to Presence

Certified Advanced Rolfer, Rolf Movement Practitioner & Massage Therapist

Achieving Your Body Wellness Goals in 10 Rolfing Sessions


Rolfing happens in a series of ten sessions; each session is an hour or an hour and a half long and has a particular goal to be achieved. The first three sessions work to align and open the superficial tissues in preparation for deeper work. The next four sessions then go deeper and work to create adaptability, and freedom of movement within the core and at the joint spaces. The finishing sessions then work to create integration, length, and alignment of for the new open body.


This session is all about the respiratory diaphragm and how the shoulder and pelvic girdles relate to the diaphragm. This session frees the breath and helps create adaptability and movement of the upper body during changes to the lower body during the following sessions.


A base of support for the body is paramount. The feet need to be strong and supple the arches capable of doing their job for grounding. The medial arch of the foot transmits core lift upwards to the rest of the body while standing. The lateral arch straightens the the leg through the swing faze of the stride.


The lateral line reaches the length of the body. This session is about how the outside of the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and ear balance and align above the foots lateral arch.


The midline reaches up the inside of the ankle and knee to feed the support of the leg into the pelvic floor. A supportive connection to the mid thoracic hinge from the pelvic floor is also worked.


The core of the torso or the visceral space is the subject of this session. Containment, length and strength for the abdominal balloon creates a base of support for the lungs and heart. Openness of the rib cage and deeper structures of the thorax allows for full breath and ease of heart.


The spine is a pole of support that mediates the oppositional movements of the legs and arms. It transmits undulating lift from the pelvis through the shoulder girdle to the head. How smoothly that lift moves through the bones of the spine is important for the operation and comfort of the nervous system.


Throughout the series the neck and head are clear indicators of how well the body is transmitting support. The head leans toward or is pulled down by fascial restrictions and is consequently tilted by gravity's pull. This session puts the finishing touches on how well the head elongates or sits over the newly organizing body. The arms are also released to hang more freely during this session.


These sessions are interchangeable and are used to integrate the previous gains by weaving length and space through all aspects of the person. The aspects include top, bottom, left, right, front, back, core, sleeve. This integration encourages smooth easy movement across joints and a more naturally coordinated body.


The last session puts the finishing touches on integration of the body. A natural relationship with gravity allows the body to maintain a tropistic lift within the core by the supporting structures. This lift within gravity is a natural function of the body's wisdom and once unlocked naturally continues looking for order, balance and freedom.


Rolf movement is the functional aspect of Rolfing. It is about how people get up and move. Structure is important and the groundwork of any integrated body. Rolf Movement is about harmonizing the nervous system and muscles within the newly organized fascial compartment. The muscles are essentially taught to move within the improved structural alignment.


After eight to ten years of Rolfing the Rolfer has a deeper understanding of the ten series and then returns to the Rolf Institute like a Capistrano Swallow to learn non-formalistic Rolfing. The formula of the ten series is transcended and the ten series format is released in favor of tailoring a series more specifically to the needs of the client. Essentially, a Rolfer then Rolfs the client not the series. This new rolfing format helps create ongoing ways to help the client.


It is recommended that the sessions not be spaced any further than three weeks apart so the client can receive a sense of continuity and a better awareness of the effect of the Rolfing experience.


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There are three levels of health intervention: relaxive, corrective and wholistic. Rolfing is the third level, wholistic. It relates to the person, and their environment. Meaning that it is concerned with the whole person rather than the treatment of parts. It does this by helping the person find greater and greater levels of performance and well-being at every aspect of being alive, within the body, mind, emotions and spirit.



This principal brings up the concept of adaptability of people to gravity, or how do you compensate for the effects of gravity over time. Rolfing through fascial release and somatic integration can change those negative gravitational affects and show how you use gravity to your benefit.



The idea here is that movement has to be supported from below by structural integration. That ease of movement is in proportion to the structures integration of the support system, gravity.



Palantonicity, it's not in the dictionary because it is a Rolfing word derived from the ancient Greek word palantonos, which means literally stretched back and forth. What this means is that you can't touch one part of the person without touching the other parts. Front-back, top-bottom, left-right, sleeve-core etcetera. But there is an order in which the palantonic aspects of the body are addressed. They are unlocked like a dial slipping over tumblers that eventually unlock the safe.



Closure happens within each session and at the end of the ten series. Closure does not just happen, it needs to be prepared. The client needs to be able to take what they have learned during the Rolfing sessions into their life. So the Rolfer states what they have found during the integration sessions and then gives the client homework so the sessions can be wholly integrated

Holistic Preamble


To penetrate the hardest armor,
use the softest touch.
Yielding melts resistance
Density is filled by light.
Good work accomplished without effort.

In silence the teachings are heard;
in stillness the world is transformed.


In the early 1980's I worked as an aide in a nursing home for the elderly. It did not take me long to realize that the nursing home was a study in out of balance behaviors and posture from from undeveloped aspects of the patient's personality. As people move towards the the end of their lives, their fascial holding patterns tend to dry up and become more rigid. For instance, fear very often settles into the flexors as people pull back from their environment.

There was one individual who was rigidly confined in the fetal position. We would pick him up and put him into his wheelchair in the shape of a little ball. Many people walked around with vacant stares; seemingly nobody home in their abandoned physical space suits. The question always arose in my mind about their embodiment in their early years. What deterioration of systems, mental or physical, had turned them into shuffling withdrawal from themselves and each other. Had they ever shown healthier connection to themselves and other people? Why did Lucy incessantly scream the rhyme about the cow that jumped over the moon at the top of her lungs while Jack stood in a corner like a stuck robot out of options? Sometimes you could sense the reasons behind the anomalies and sometimes not. I suspected that Lucy's rhyme had carved a particularly deep groove into her consciousness as a girl. Jack would stand in a corner until turned around and then he would shuffle the whole length of the hall only to become stranded in the opposite corner 300 feet away. For Jack it seemed to be a way to express his inability to really go anywhere, but also a way to get people to give attention to him.

The amazing thing was that these people also had astonishing attributes. one might have perfectly shaped feet, legs and hips and then have a huge widows hump. Another might have a fine right side the left withered, a possible disorganization in the male/female aggressive/passive aspects of personality. One man would scream in anger and try to hit the nurses with hands that would not release from formed fists.

These experiences made me wonder, what is holism? It became clear to me that if one did not pay attention to developing the four-body system of, mind, body, emotions and spirit, in a balanced way, whatever unresolved issues a person had would become glaring issues in old age. But even further, it it appeared these people were not grounded enough to promote balance. Whether the issue was mental, spiritual or emotional, the tissue registered it all in very personal and and physical ways. After a while it became clear to me that when one aspect became out of balance that it began to pull on the other aspects. So, from a therapeutic standpoint when someone experiences a stress, the way that it enters the body is important. As Rolfers our main therapeutic way of intervention is is through the physical body. We can point with intention in the direction of the initial issue, if it is not primarily physical, and create a strong enough, grounded enough, physical body to effect healing the other aspects within the holistic process.

In his book "Spacious Body", Jeffery Maitland defined "Rolfing as a form of wholistic, integrative somatic education and manipulation that deals with the whole person in gravity". He then went on to say that "the wholistic paradigm is devoted to enhancing the natural tendency of the whole person to seek higher and higher orders of functioning and wellbeing at every level of existence from the mind to the body to the spirit. The goal of Rolfing or any holistic principal is somatic integration".