The Rolfing Ten Series
The First Hour
In a first hour of Rolfing we get to know each other a little. I will take detailed notes from our initial interview and conduct an initial body reading. I also like to begin most of my sessions with a little work at the feet. But in the first session we chiefly consider the breath, working around the diaphragm, ribs and collarbones, as well as beginning to look at the relationship of the upper body to the pelvis. Read more about the work of the first hour. The first session is also the first of a series of sessions (1-3) which make a first pass at ‘unpinning’ some of the body’s compensatory patterns.
The Second Hour
In session two we look at your relationship to the ground: can you let the ground support you? We take a look at the way you walk and work chiefly around the feet, ankles and the lower legs. Some people respond very strongly to session one; others really respond to session two. Why? While the focus of movement in session one is around feeling lifted (think of the glorious expansion of the ribs during an inhalation), session two is all about feeling more stable on your feet. Every body is different; we all need to reclaim different aspects of our embodiment that got lost along the way, through injury, circumstance, or habit.
The Third Hour
The third sessions begins an exploration of the sides of the body and in some respects is similar to the first session: we work in a more detailed way around the side of the ribcage, the rotator cuff, and the waist, as well as again around the pelvis and thighs. Session three is a great session for helping you look and feel longer in the waist.
The Fourth Hour
Session four begins the ‘core’ series (4-7) with deep work at the midline of the body: we work the inner seam of the legs and prepare the body for the visceral work which will take place in session five, with work towards the pelvic floor and the suspensory ligaments of the lungs.
The Fifth Hour
Session five addresses the front line of the body and the deep line of core support around the abdomen and the psoas muscle. Ida Rolf was asked where she would work if she could only work at one place in the body: session 5 embodies her response to this question, with its focus on the psoas muscles and the transition between the thoracic and lumbar vertebra.
The Sixth Hour
Session six takes us to the back of the body: the spine, the sacrum and the back of the legs. Its emphasis on creating support and a sense of groundedness echo the themes and content of sessions two and four. Strangely enough, people often notice standing taller after their sixth hour of Rolfing.
The Seventh Hour
From the sacrum (session six) to the cranium: session seven is a deep exploration of the head, neck and face. It also features the internal work in the mouth (chiefly to release tension around the jaw) and the nose: don’t panic – it doesn’t hurt, we use sterile gloves, etc. We tell people sometimes that we don’t know ‘where our head is at’: after a seventh session of Rolfing clients typically feel very oriented, upright and focused. It can be a revelation.
The Eighth Hour
Session eight begins the final three sessions of integration. A classic session eight looks at the role of the girdles (shoulders and pelvis), but leaves time for more detailed work in the arms and to address specific areas of restriction or pain that need additional work.
The Ninth Hour
Session 9 continues where session eight left off, but with a particular focus on the spiral dynamic of the body and functional (movement) work. Again, it allows time for the Rolfer and client to complete or revisit the work of earlier sessions, and to observe how well the work is ‘sticking’.
The Tenth Hour
In the final session we usually work in a more global and integrative way across larger fascial planes to bring together the work and learning of the previous nine sessions. Session ten is a time for closure, to take stock of what has been achieved and to consider next steps for the client: although some clients can benefit from additional work or occasional maintenance sessions, Rolfers are not in the business of making you become addicted to Rolfing. We want to help build strong and resilient bodies and to encourage greater awareness that our clients can take away into the rest of their lives.
The changes that have been made to the body go on ‘working’ even after the tenth session, and indeed may take some time to bed in fully as the client returns to their usual activities. You may notice that you’re suddenly a whole lot more flexible in yoga, or that the lat pulldown exercise you’ve been doing in the gym for years is now getting you results that you were not able to achieve before.