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The Ida Rolf Rolfing Technique

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The Ida Rolf Rolfing Technique evolved over the span of many years. It is interesting how Dr. Rolf’s life work has continued on and evolved even after her death in 1978. Dr. Rolf graduated from Barnard College in 1916. After graduation she earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Dr. Rolf developed some back problems after being kicked by a horse on a camping trip soon after graduating from college. She was not satisfied with the medical treatment she was getting, so she sought treatment from an osteopathic doctor instead. What she learned from the osteopath would lead her on to make her own discoveries that would become the Ida Rolf Rolfing technique.

For 10 years Dr. Rolf studied Tantric Yoga and applied this knowledge to helping people with disabilities. She used the postures of Yoga in her practice, and as she learned new techniques she incorporated them into her practice which evolved into what she called Structural Integration, but later became known as the Ida Rolf Rolfing technique.

Over the course of 50 years she studied and taught that through structural integration the changes that gravity makes on the body could be corrected over time. The body would come into balance with the planet’s gravitational field. Dr. Rolf learned through her studies that gravity is a constant force that is either pulling structures down or holding them up. Gravity’s effect on the body is that the body shape changes just like the body was a piece of plastic that could be molded. The connective tissue that encases every muscle, bone, and organ of the body is affected by the force of gravity, but can also be restructured through the Ida Rolf Rolfing technique.

Dr. Rolf started teaching in California at the Esalen Institute at Big Sur. She taught that the body is changeable, and that the imbalance of poor posture can be replaced by the balance of good posture. She called her work body education, and later changed it to Structural Integration. Her work caught on so that Boulder, Colorado became the headquarters for her work and was called The Guild for Structural Integration.

As the Ida Rolf Rolfing technique caught on in the 1960’s, the term Rolfing was coined and later became a registered trade service mark. Only Ida Rolf Rolfing technique certified practitioners are allowed to display the Rolfing service mark in their company logos. Licensed practitioners are now commonly known as Rolfers.

The Ida Rolf Rolfing technique evolved from the work of Dr. Rolf. She discovered that just as gravity can change a body from a state of balance to imbalance, her techniques could use gravity to assist the practitioner to put the body back into balance. She taught that the connective tissue could be stretched over time to reshape the body and promote not only balance with gravity, but also improvement in health.





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