Here is the final part of my 3 part series on www.SoulsCode.com. In Part 3 I discover my love for dance, receive my first taste of hands-on manual therapy for a dance injury, and discover my life’s work Rolfing® SI.

My soul death is averted by Rolfing® Structural Integration | Soul’s Code.

Rolfing® treatment of the hamstrings

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Here is Part 2 of the 3 Part series www.SoulsCode.com is doing about my personal journey of discovery that led me to become a Rolfing® practitioner.

Do check out their website which features articles on psychology, spirituality and mind-body healing.

And while you’re there check out . . .

Freedom from twister cables as I stretch my body and soul | Soul’s Code.

Or, Are You Ready For Me San Francisco?

Pilates reformerI am pleased to announce I have a new Rolfing office in San Francisco. On Mondays, beginning May 3, I started working at A Body of Work a highly respected San Francisco Pilates Studio and Gyrotonic® Center. I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to bring my skills to a wider audience and the location is beautiful! A Body of Work is located in the Presidio at 569 Ruger Street just inside the Lombard Street gate. We’re literally across the street from the Presidio Social Club and just up the hill from Lucasfilm’s Letterman Digital Art Center.

For me, this is a personal homecoming of sorts. Being of the relatively rare species known as San Francisco Native I feel like I have come full circle from my arrival in 1967 at Kaiser Foundation Hospital on Geary. Here’s a bit more for you to read about my personal journey and how I ultimately became a Rolfing practitioner.

I hope you will check out the excellent trainers at A Body of Work as well as come and receive some Rolfing at my new office. Since this is a new venue for me I would appreciate you spreading the word to your family and friends.

© Carole LaRochelle, 2010.

Beatles and MaharishiLong before Michael Murphy and George Leonard coined the term “human potential movement’ in 1965¹ and The Beatles met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in August 1967 Ida Rolf, Ph.D. was interested in the development of human potential. In addition to osteopathy and homeopathy one of the biggest influences on Rolf’s understanding of the human body was yoga. Throughout the 1920s she participated in a group that practiced yoga asanas and held meetings and lectures in Nyack, New York with American yogi, Pierre Bernard. Rolf has this to say in her 1978 book Ida Rolf Talks About Rolfing® and Physical Reality.

His father had been a tantric and he was brought up as a tantric. He had spent most of his childhood in India. In tantric families, boys of seven years of age are taken from their families, put into another home of the same culture grade, and are brought up with the other family. In Hindu tantric families, through the centuries, the basis of the boys’ education was the Tantras—the five Indian sacred books. These they had to learn by rote, which is something like the mental equivalent of doing five hundred cartwheels.²

I believe Rolf is referring to Sylvais Hamati here, a Syrian-Indian, who Bernard met at the age of thirteen in Lincoln, Nebraska. Hamati was an accomplished Tantric yogi and he and Bernard traveled together from the late 1880s into the early 1900s. Bernard made his first dynamic splash into public view on the front-page of the New York Times on January 29, 1898. “He had given a public demonstration of his Kali-mudra or ‘death trance’ to a group of physicians in San Francisco, during which he seems to have successfully slowed his vital functions sufficiently to mimic death.³”

American Yogi Pierre BernardBernard capitalized on this publicity becoming known as “The Hypnotist Dr. Bernard” and quite a famous personality in the San Francisco Bay Region before he left the area around the time of the 1906 earthquake. He published what is likely the first Tantric publication in the United States, the International Journal of the Tantrik Order.

By 1909 Bernard was in New York City and had emerged as a successful teacher of yoga. With the help of New York’s elite, including Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, in 1919 Bernard moved to a 73 acre estate in Upper Nyack, New York. It was here where Rolf met and trained with Bernard in the 1920s.

Robert Love has just published a biography of Bernard titled The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America, a name modeled after “Omnipotent Oom” given to Bernard by the local press after reported accusations of such things as “wild Oriental music and women’s cries, but not those of distress.⁴” I refer you to Love’s lively biography for more details about Bernard’s life.

What Bernard offered Rolf through his teachings was unique at the time and is, I feel, still relatively rare today: physical experience as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment, or the evolution of consciousness if you will. Yoga aims to develop the whole person through the practices of breath awareness, meditation and movement. Rosemary Feitis writes of Rolf:

In those years of practicing yoga and discussing its principles, she was establishing the basis of all her future work: that bodies need to lengthen and be balanced, and that a balanced body will give rise to a better human being.⁵

How fascinating to me, as a Rolfing® practitioner for 15 years now, to see the early origins of Rolf’s work. From the turn of the 20th century popular interest in hypnotism, Theosophy, and the self-proclaimed mystics such as G.I. Gurdjieff, to the Jazz Age roots of yoga in America, it seems the interest in the “human potential movement” has been with us quite a long time indeed.

Notes

1. Jeffrey J. Kripal, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007), p. 207.

2. Ida Rolf, Rolfing® and Physical Reality, ed. Rosemary Feitis (Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 1990) p. 7.

3. Kripal, p. 236.

4. Kripal, p. 237.

5. Rolf, p. 8.

© Carole LaRochelle, 2010.

A guide for all you 21st century internet savvy, Facebooking, Blogging, Twittering Peeps out there

Ida_with_Client_lgLong, long ago in a century far, far away lived a woman named Ida Pauline Rolf. She observed that the structure of the human body affects its optimum function, and set out to do something about it. Receiving her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Columbia University in 1920, she worked as a Research Associate at Rockefeller Institute from 1919 to 1927 during which time she published fifteen research articles. In addition to biochemistry, Rolf’s thinking was influenced by her practice of yoga and treatments and training from pioneer osteopaths.

Rolf started working hands-on with people in New York during World War II. By the 1950s she was traveling the country teaching structural integration to chiropractors and osteopaths. It was in the 1960s Rolf ended up working with Fritz Perls, the father of Gestalt Therapy. That was when structural integration become known as Rolfing and got caught up in the human potential movement.

Rolfing structural integration is somatic education the main purpose of which is to improve the structure and alignment of the body. It is not a form of massage therapy. Rather, Rolfing practitioners are the structural experts of the human body. They use skillful hands-on techniques as well as movement education to empower clients to take charge of their own physical and emotional health. Rolfing also has the potential to support personal evolution through enhancing the vertical alignment of the body, facilitating the upward movement of energy through our systems and the subsequent evolution of consciousness.

And now a visual guide . . .

rolfer_client7_lg

This IS Rolfing


vomiting

This is NOT Rolfing


ROFL

This is NOT Rolfing


Any questions?

© Carole LaRochelle, 2009.

Continuation of the article written by my friend Raymond Bishop, Certified Advanced Rolfer.

If we focus too much on muscular structures, we miss the larger fascial planes that morph and alter the dynamic relationships between these structures. Conversely, swimming in the fascia without a constant eye to the mutating coastline, the rocky shoals and obdurate projectiles where the fascia binds and adheres may feel wonderful, but, in doing so, we will widely miss the mark if our primary goal is improving fascial connections in relation to what Dr. Rolf and her students call “the line” (an organizational construct that runs through the central vertical axis of the body).⁵

This fascial sensing may seem rather abstract, but it proves to be the primary way through which we not only create and sense order but also access the meditative. But before we address the meditative state, a bit more about the nature of Rolfing. Another general perception is that what we do is mechanistic and goal oriented. Many bodyworkers read and learn that Rolfing is a protocol, a pattern of sessions, logically sequenced with a series of clearly defined goals and rigidly delineated fascial territories. They also learn that there are specific techniques associated with each session and pay considerable amounts of money for one of the numerous programs and accompanying manuals out there that detail highly specific protocols for these basic sessions. They also learn that there are movement cues as well as awareness and muscular retraining exercises that accompany each hour and carefully graft these to their sessions.⁶  Furthermore, interested students of SI will find that some styles have a more psychological orientation and  include emotional work and homework questions to be filled out by the client between sessions to deepen the emotional nature of their experience of the series.
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Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this 4 part series.

In reconstructing the timeline for this article I discovered I wore the twister cables for 15 to 18 months. I was still wearing the cables when I entered kindergarten in the fall of 1972.

Until that time I had been relatively sheltered at home from the type of harsh teasing that can happen when one is “different” from their peers. We, as humans, seem to have a primitive instinct that informs us if someone’s legs are funny or they walk abnormally then they may be retarded.

Thus, similar to Forrest Gump climbing on the school bus for his very first day of school, I was ostracized and cruelly mocked by some older children. I tried my best not to show how much it hurt me and vowed to never make fun of someone else’s disability.

Wearing the braces at the age I did, and having to cope with difficulties like being teased by older children helped to reinforce an earlier defense strategy in my character structure known as Late Will. This terminology, as I use it here, comes from Bodynamic Analysis, a form of body-oriented psychotherapy from Denmark.

They have defined a seven phase character structure model starting from the 2nd trimester through the age of 12. Their model puts a more positive spin on character structure than previous models developed by Freud, Erikson and Lowen.

Indeed, in Bodynamic Analysis, each developmental stage represents a central issue or theme dealt with during a particular age period. In fact, each theme can also be viewed as a basic human right. They are:

  1. Existence (2nd trimester to 3 months) The right to exist in one’s physical environment.
  2. Need (1 month to 1 1/2 years) The ability to sense one’s own needs and that one’s needs can be met.
  3. Autonomy (8 months to 2 1/2 years) The ability to engage in independent movement and explore the world.
  4. Will (2 to 4 years) The ability to make choices and state one’s own power through actions and emotions (i.e. control) and still be loved.
  5. Love/Sexuality (3 to 6 years) The ability to create a balance between feelings of the heart (love) and the genitals (sexuality).
  6. Opinion (5 to 8 years) The ability to form and express one’s opinion.
  7. Solidarity/Performance (7 to 12 years) The ability to balance being one’s best with being a member of a group.

Bodynamic Analysis was developed by Lisbeth Marcher and a group of 10 Danish therapists who studied and worked together for 20 years. I have studied this system’s character structure model as well as their approach to working with shock/trauma.

I continue to study Resource Oriented Skill Training with Merete Holm Brantbjerg one of Bodynamic’s co-creators. I will write more about this body of work in future posts.

At some point during kindergarten the doctors deemed the braces no longer necessary and I was set free. I chuckle now to think about it, but they gave my mother instructions to stretch me.

I suppose this was to keep working to improve the external rotation in my hips. What they showed us to do I now know as Baddha Konasana or Bound Angle Pose from yoga.

Bound Angle Pose

Of course my Bound Angle Pose didn’t look like the one in this picture. My knees were much higher off the ground. I would sit in this position with my back against the hallway wall while my mother would push down on my knees. It hurt, and I didn’t know how to relax. I would push up with my knees as hard as my mother would push down. I’m not sure we made much progress in changing my pattern.

As you may imagine, going through all of this at such a young age created in me quite an awareness of body structure and alignment. After we stopped torturing me with stretches my leg issues faded more into the background.

The next time I can remember a significant Aha! Moment that led me down the path to become a Rolfing practitioner was in high school.

In the 1980s I used to listen to a morning radio program called The Alex Bennett Show out of San Francisco. One morning Alex was talking about getting Rolfed. Since his show featured standup comedians as his guests, he was making fun of the funny sounding name. However, he also said some things that burned into my memory.

He said the work was literally changing the structure of his body, that he had better posture, was more flexible, and had more energy. That information got stored in my brain. . . there is something out there that changes structure. . . being able to change structure in a positive direction is a good thing.

And then, I promptly forgot about Rolfing until many years later.

Continue to Part 4 Finding My Calling


© Carole LaRochelle, 2009.