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Dr. Ida P. Rolf and Structural Integration

Dr. Ida P. Rolf was born in 1896 in New York and grew up in the Bronx. She attended Barnard College and graduated in 1916. She was then hired by the Rockefeller Institute and eventually attained the rank of associate. While there she continued her education, receiving her Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. Just after graduating from Barnard College, she was on a camping trip and got kicked by a horse, an accident which left her with acute pneumonia. Dissatisfied with conventional medical treatment, Dr. Rolf received treatment from an osteopathic doctor, an encounter which would change the course of her life dramatically.
Dr. Rolf began a life-long search for effective methods to encourage well-being in the human condition, not forming her own school until 45 years later. For over a decade Dr Rolf studied tantric yoga. Her own work with chronically disabled people began with yoga postures and things evolved from there, gradually incorporating and synthesizing all of the various knowledge that she acquired as the years went by. In Dr. Rolf's own words: "God didn't come down and tell me; I had to find it out through many years of experience. The work came first; the inspiration came later." 

The art of Structural Integration represents the life work of Dr. Ida P. Rolf. After earning her Ph.D in Biological Chemistry in 1920, Dr. Rolf worked as a research scientist for the Rockefeller Institute in New York for 13 years. She then spent 50 years studying, searching, developing and teaching her system of creating a more upright human structure, a body with greater verticality and balance which functions more efficiently in gravity, the field in which we live. Her primary goal was to enlist the supportive benefits of gravity. Gravity is never neutral. Dr. Rolf said, "When gravity isn't tearing something down, it's upholding it." She determined that the human structure is a "plastic medium", and that by applying pressure, energy and intention, the muscular structure can be altered and freed from long-held aberration, the result of physical and/or emotional traumas. By working to free the myofascial network which encases and relates each muscle and each group of muscles, the body returns to its natural organization, and accordingly functions in a more efficient, graceful and comfortable way. She observed that when human structure becomes more vertical, more balanced, more upright, a whole series of other significant changes occur in the person. Further, she noticed that a body which becomes more structurally upright, provides greater emotional, psychological and spiritual uprightness. Structural Integration has a simple, yet profound message: 

1) The body is a plastic medium (changeable). 

2) By changing the structure, one changes the function of a human being. Structural Integration consistently demonstrates that imbalance can be replaced with balance, limitation can be replaced by freedom; a random, aberrated and painful body can grow into greater verticality, order and ease. 

Dr. Rolf always referred to the work as a body education process. She constantly told her students that they were teachers, not therapists. She added, "If you have to use the word therapist, then gravity is the therapist." From early on she preferred to call her work Structural Integration. During the human potential movement of the 60's, the public coined the words, "Rolfing®" and "Rolfer®" which are now registered service marks of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration. 

UTube videos on Rolf Structural Integration:


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