‘Gravity is the teacher,’ wrote Ida Rolf. What on earth did she mean by that?

Another of Ida’s insights was to notice that we are all under the effect of the force of gravity all the time. Like air, we don’t much notice it (but astronauts notice when it’s not there!), but it’s a crucial component of everything we do. One of the human problems, Ida contended, was the question of how best to live within an atmosphere in which we are constantly subject to downwards pressure.

Looked at from this perspective, the body can be seen as an architectural structure that needs to be designed so as to best withstand the effects of gravity with a minimum of compression and wear on our joints. Our bodies do this best when they are aligned for best support, but many of us develop patterns that are not really optimal, such as holding our heads too far forwards rather than directly on the top of the spine (causing strain to the neck muscles).

You’ll have noticed that older people generally lose height as they get older, and indeed some older people start to have very rounded and hunched postures as they begin to lose the fight against gravity. At the other end of the story, a baby learns to walk within the medium of gravity (a baby born in zero-gravity would learn to move in a very different way!).

So how is gravity in any way a ‘teacher’ or ‘therapist’? Well, it’s what we have to contend with in this human (and animal) life of ours. There’s no getting away from gravity, just like there’s no getting away from the passage of time. So our relationship to gravity is a reference point and a constant that requires our response. Without time, perhaps, we might never get on with anything. Without gravity, would any of us have desired to fly? Staying in bed is a response to gravity of a kind, but it won’t get us far in life. Learning to crawl assumes a halfway position, but has its limitations. Can we learn to walk with our heads held high? Can we run? Can we jump? Can we reach?

Read About Ida Rolf.


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