The Rolfing “Ten series” can be viewed as a basic recipe which all Rolfers follow to achieve their common goal of balancing the client’s body in gravity. However, individual Rolfers work in different ways and also recognise that each client is unique and so adapt the recipe to suit theirs and their client’s needs. The following can be viewed as a general outline of the goals and procedure for each session.
SESSION ONE – Freedom to Breathe
In addition to starting work on any specific structural issues, the main goal of the first session is to free the breathing – The Rolfer aims to evoke a more balanced and efficient breathing pattern by freeing fascial restrictions around the torso, shoulders, neck and head. The Rolfer also begins the process of mobilising and horizontalising the pelvis by working around hip joints and legs. The client is shown the benefits of enhanced breathing awareness and is often given homework based on addressing specific breathing issues.
SESSION TWO – Finding support
In this session the work is mainly with feet, lower legs and knees to establish a more stable and adaptive base of support for changes that will take place later on in the upper body. An improved awareness of our connection with the earth will also help to establish a firm sense of ‘place’, a sense of belonging without which it may be difficult to move on mentally and emotionally.
SESSION THREE – Creating your space, owning your place
The goal of this session is evoke a sense of volume and space in the body and to connect this with the client’s newly found sense of ‘grounding’ or ‘place’. Specifically, the Rolfer will invite front/back balance through work with the side surfaces of the legs, arms, torso, neck and head. Work will continue to free the breath and evoke four way movement in ribs, Energetically, the aim is to bring awareness of energy flow down the lateral sides of body from sky to ground.
SESSION FOUR – Finding your core, connecting earth to sky
In this session we begin working to establish a core of support in the legs, from the inner arches of the feet up the inside surfaces of the legs to the pelvic floor. We also need to lengthen and ease the spinal curves and evoke sense of energy flow up through the core from ground to sky.
SESSION FIVE – The next step for humankind, walking with grace and ease
In evolutionary terms the Human species has only just learned to stand upright on two feet instead of four. Ida Rolf observed that in terms of walking with the same efficiency and ease as some of our four legged cousins we are still only at the ‘toddler’ stage and she firmly believed that Rolfing was here to help the Human race evolve through to the next stage in our quest to touch the stars. The theme of session five is to teach walking with ease. Connecting the legs to the spine through iliopsoas muscle and using the spinal engine greatly improves efficiency and lessens stress and strain on the lumbar spine and hip flexors (so often the cause of low back pain).
SESSION SIX- Freeing the spine
The goal of the Rolfer in this session is to continue the work started in session five by working with restrictions in the back, the legs and pelvis to enhance somatic awareness and bring 2-way flow of subtle movement to the spine.
SESSION SEVEN – Getting the head on straight!
If you have trouble saying “Yes” or “No” or suffer with continual back ache, eye strain, TMJ problems, headaches or vertigo then it may just be because your head is in the wrong place. Balancing the head on the shoulders is vital piece of the jigsaw in bringing a body into line with gravity. In this session the Rolfer continues easing restrictions in the upper back, shoulders and neck and begins work on the muscles and fascia of the face and inside the mouth for a balanced relationship between cranium, spine and mandible. Some Rolfers may also work with movement to evoke awareness of the three axis of cranial movement. and will often use cranio-sacral techniques to balance the cranial pulse.
SESSION EIGHT – Putting it all back together
Session eight begins the closure cycle. By now the unique structural issues of each client are in the foreground. Session eight is the final opportunity in this cycle to resolve any specific structural imbalances before bringing everything back together in sessions nine and ten.
SESSION NINE – Integration
Rolfing does not seek perfectionism, just the best that the body will allow in its present state of being. To this end the Rolfing process puts a vast amount of new information into the body in terms of changed structural relationships and new movement possibilities. Whilst the aim is to liberate the whole person it can also be a bit confusing on both the conscious and a subconscious levels. Therefore, in the final two sessions the Rolfer must make sure that all of this new information is integrated to the best effect by the client and that the client has a clear idea of what might be thrown away and what might be usefully explored further.
SESSION TEN – Closure
The last session in the series and place to finish any structural integration and also review the entire series and discuss a strategy for maintenance and ongoing improvement over the months and years ahead.
Rolfing is effective because it remains sensitive to and works with the body’s innate wisdom. Rolfing always changes the body but only at the speed it wants to change. Sometimes there is a feeling at the end of the series that just a few more sessions would complete the process. In most cases this is not a good idea. The work of Rolfing and the new body awareness that it evokes, continues to bring change long after the series is finished. It is better, therefore, to wait a few months to see where the body wants to go before receiving more work. After this initial rest period, however, it is perfectly OK to schedule occasional sessions whenever you feel the need.