An illustrated guide to the Structural Integration bodywork process and the relationship between body alignment and energy flow
When the body’s structure is optimally aligned, not only does it eliminate pain, reduce inflammation, and stop the degeneration of joints and discs, it also enhances the flow of energy in the body and awakens us to greater mental clarity.
In this illustrated guide to Dr. Ida P. Rolf’s Structural Integration process, Jean Louise Green introduces the principles of Structural Integration and details each of the 10 sessions in the Structural Integration bodywork series, explaining what to expect and how to maximize the benefits. She explores the relationship between the energetics of the body and its alignment, including an advanced scientific understanding of how gravity can become a beneficial force when the body is properly aligned. She provides clear, accessible descriptions of core concepts such as the Rolf “Line” and the torus, including a detailed explanation of how to access the energetics of the Rolf “Line.”
Offering an energy medicine approach to bodywork, this guide provides both practitioners and laypeople with the necessary tools to dramatically increase the efficiency of the body, release chronic pain, improve mental function, and free energy flow.
Before you begin, write down all your current symptoms and conditions that you would like to resolve. Formulate your goals and intentions. Doing this will enhance the benefits of your ten-sessions investment.
The body has a great capacity to shift with this work. Changes may be noticed immediately upon standing after the session or experienced through an accumulated effect during the series. Toward the end of your ten-session series, the majority of the ailments on your list may be completely forgotten or significantly improved. Each person’s experience of the work will be unique according to their own body’s needs and personal history.
Because of the connection between body, mind, emotion, and spirit, you might consider not only physical goals but also personal goals. This work is a springboard for creating major positive change. It can usher in the next level of who you are becoming. With that in mind, what is it in your life that you would like to bring in or accomplish at this time?
The Theme of the First Session
Joseph Heller is a respected early colleague of Dr. Ida Rolf and a former president of the Rolf Institute. He is the founder of Hellerwork Structural Integration and an authority on the emotions and their effects on different parts of the body. Heller’s brilliant, insightful themes add new depth to the work. He realized that most people’s stress is mental and emotional in origin, and that stress gets stuck in different parts of the body.
Joseph Heller described the theme of the first session as “Inspiration”: “The meaning of the word ‘inspiration’ is ‘draw in spirit’: inspiration is not only to inhale oxygen, but it is also to be filled with--or to be in touch with--spirit.” Breath is our prime connection with life force.
The first session can be an inspiration for being able to breathe deeply and fully give and receive love. The spirit of the first session is of being reborn--of something special having happened.
The psychological Hellerwork connection here is the reawakening of an enthusiasm for life; a possibility of newfound freedom in body, mind, emotion, and spirit. Emmett Hutchins, my first teacher of Dr. Rolf’s work, described the mood of the first hour when he said, “One of the qualities of a first hour is ‘Wow! That was wonderful. I’ve never had anything like that before. Can I get more?’”
Dr. Rolf’s Words about the First Session
“The goals are to improve chest respiration and the nutrition in the cellular levels. The new blood opens up the way to mobilization and innervation of the pelvic body from the earth in all subsequent sessions.”
Practitioner Goals for the First Session
• Create awareness of client’s baseline structure. • Establish a working relationship. • Open up the breathing capacity. • Lengthen the front of the body. • Begin to release restrictions in the pelvic and shoulder girdles. • Begin to free the legs. • Horizontalize the pelvis. • Introduce client to their Line for the first time. Acquaint the client with where the top of their head is and where their feet are in relation to the gravitational field.
The front of the body will be longer after this session. The work will create the need for the lengthening of the back in session two. This is the beginning of freeing strain in the rib cage, shoulder girdle, legs, hips, neck, and back.
As a result of the first session, breathing capacity may expand by 25 percent. More of your weight may be on your heels. Also, the ribs may lift as the weight bearing down into your feet has shifted.
Self-Care for the Client after a First Session
The work of Structural Integration helps break up patterns of disorganization that are stuck in the soft tissues of the body. The stretching and breaking down of such tissues releases toxins that may cause the body to feel sore after a session.
Take a ten-minute walk immediately after your structural integration session to help your body integrate the work. Walking will help your body adjust to its changes in alignment and relationship with gravity.
Follow the walk with a detox bath to help eliminate toxins quickly through the skin. Detox baths lessen side effects from the release of toxins during your sessions. Otherwise, side effects could include dizziness, headache, nausea, body ache, fever, or flu-like symptoms. If toxins are not removed from the body within six hours, they can move back into the blood stream into deeper layers of the connective tissues causing soreness in the body. If any soreness remains after your detox bath, rub some arnica gel into the area. Arnica increases circulation and reduces inflammation and pain. As long as there is inflammation, pain will be present. Inflammation needs to be reduced in order to diminish pain.
Increase your water intake before and after your sessions. Water rehydrates the connective tissues and helps flush out toxins released in the bodywork. It is recommended to drink half of one’s bodyweight in ounces of water per day.
Increase the intake of protein in your diet during your Structural Integration series to help support the formation of new connective tissues during this time of reorganization in your body.
Between the Sessions
Because the psyche and soma are so connected, the practitioner’s work around the rib cage may cause feelings to surface during or after the session. Often with the freeing of the breath can come a reawakened enthusiasm for life; however, there can also be sadness as repressed emotions begin to stir.
Did any feelings come up for you during or after the session? Did this surprise you? How did you handle those emotions? Was it okay for you to feel the feelings or did you try to stifle them? This might be an opportunity for you to clear some of those feelings on the mental and emotional levels and get them “off your chest.”
Jean Louise Green, CMT, is a certified Rolf practitioner, trained by Dr. Ida P. Rolf's first generation teachers. From 2004-2018, Green taught basic and advanced level deep tissue classes as a certified teacher of therapeutic massage and senior staff member at Chico Therapy Wellness Center. A professional member of the Guild for Structural Integration, the International Association of Structural Integrators, and the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, Green maintains a full-time private practice and lives in Chico, California.
“In Structural Integration and Energy Medicine, Jean Louise Green has created an invaluable tool and guide for those interested in as well as those participating in the process of Structural Integration. Unique in a world of proliferating flavors of body-centered modalities, Structural Integration is at once recognizable as a beacon of hope for those who have run out of options as well as a personal process of self-realization. While it is common for body-centered modalities to focus on clinical symptom relief, Structural Integration goes deeper--focusing on the very core of one’s being to deconstruct and then reconstruct the person as an integrated whole. This is a process, and as such, the practitioner serves as both a clinician and guide to the client. Structural Integration and Energy Medicine provides both a foundation for understanding the fundamental concepts of the physiologic and scientific aspects of the work and a framework for the conceptual psychological progression that the client experiences over the course of a basic series of the work. This is an invaluable handbook to accompany clients through their ten-session series and provides powerful tools and suggestions to support clients after their Structural Integration series.”
– Manny Aragon, BCSI, president of the International Association of Structural Integrators
“Jean Louise Green’s willingness to share how Structural Integration has affected her and her clients’ lives is a beautiful expression of what can happen when your tissues are enlivened. Through her insightful words Green invites you to explore, appreciate, and enjoy the energy field we live in. She shares stories from her practice of many years and gives resources for practical application to embody. Whether you are a Structural Integration practitioner, a Structural Integration client, or a soon-to-be client, this book is a wonderful reference along your journey.”
– Amber Leigh Burnham, vice president of the International Association of Structural Integrators
“Fresh eyes and ideas on Structural Integration. Excellent resource--a must have for the serious practitioner and a great tool for the client.”
– Dr. Richard Podolny, M.D., certified by the ABFM and the ABHM
“Jean Louise Green’s book, Structural Integration and Energy Medicine, is a wonderful introduction and guide for all who are considering receiving this remarkable work. Using Hellerwork Structural Integration session themes, the author elevates the focus on the metaphysical and spiritual rewards, not just the amazing physical benefits. An excellent resource for anyone wanting to experience the benefits of Structural Integration with a Certified Structural Integrator.”
– Robert Carl Scherzinger, DHM, President of Hellerwork International
“Jean Louise Green writes lucidly of both her personal experience as a client and practitioner of Structural Integration as well as including information about new developments in the field in an accessible form for both practitioners and anyone who is interesting in learning more about Bodywork. She touches on the subtler energetic aspects of Structural Integration, which serves as a helpful guide to looking deeper into the work. I wish there were more books as thoughtful and engaging on the subject as Structural Integration and Energy Medicine!"
– Tara Thompson Lewis, coauthor of The Thompson Method of Bodywork
“Meeting Jean Louise Green and receiving Structural Integration with her over the past few years has been an important aspect of maintaining our health and wellbeing. The excellent care she gives is matched by her in-depth knowledge of meditation, nutrition, and cutting edge therapeutic technologies. This book is long overdue. It will benefit anyone who is interested in taking their health to a new level.”
– Rahasya Poe and Dhara Lemos, Publishers of Lotus Guide Magazine, Chico, California
"Jean Louise Green has undertaken the daunting task of articulating the indescribable to the uninitiated. Green introduces the magic, mystery and wide world of Dr. Rolf’s revolutionary work to the next generation. A work that is virtually unknown and often discounted because it is immeasurable. The benefits are measured in the quality of life changes that people go through by receiving the Basic series, sequence and process. If you are looking at this book and you feel you are ready for change then please open Structural Integration and Energy Medicine. Read it with an open heart and mind and let it settle in as you may consider finding a practitioner to start you on your journeying your body conscious, centering and settling into the nature who you are."
– D. G. Davis, master teacher and practitioner of Structural Integration
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