How yoga is connected to Rolfing

Tom Myers on The Century of the Body: Fascia, Yoga and the Medicine of the Future.

Loved this interview with Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains (which I hope to be studying in March at the Lauterstein-Conway School of Massage).

Until I read it, I had no idea that Ida Rolf was an early (1920s) practitioner of yoga, and that she developed Structural Integration (aka Rolfing (TM)) as a way to bring the benefits of yoga to people without the actual practice of yoga, since yoga wasn’t readily available.

Boy, would she be surprised at how popular yoga has become! And, the rise of yoga in America doesn’t seem to have put a dent in the Rolfing business either, perhaps because yoga helps people become more aware that their bodies are bound up, and they seek Rolfing.

My Rolfer, Mary Kimberlin in Dallas, told me that being Rolfed was the equivalent of doing yoga for five years in terms of the freedom of movement. I believe that. I was practicing yoga before I got Rolfed, and it definitely accelerated my flexibility in asana practice.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Fascia—or connective tissue—is what glues us together. So, it’s a broad use of the word fascia. What we’re really talking about is the body-wide extracellular net that holds us together.

So, again, people have been paying a lot of attention to the chemistry and neurology of conditions like depression, and not much attention to shape. But shape is hugely important, and that’s where yoga and bodywork really shine.

We’re really just looking at the very beginning of the potential offered by body work, yoga, Rolfing, osteopathy, and so on—all these body therapies contributing to this realm.. This next century is going to be the century of the body, because this is the century in which we need to learn to change behavior.

We need to learn how to get people to change behavior, because so many of the big diseases are all lifestyle-related. At the heart of big, epidemic conditions like heart disease and diabetes really are behavioral, lifestyle issues. These are conditions where people need to change their habits more than they need to take the medicine.

Yoga was very small until quite recently. Pilates was very small until quite recently. And bodywork was quite limited until very recently. Going forward, I think we will see these unite into a very powerful combination of manual therapy and movement, where everybody is speaking one language.

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About MaryAnn Reynolds

Blogging about body, mind, heart, spirit, and well-being at The Well: bodymindheartspirit. Offering bodywork and changework, specializing in Ashiatsu barefoot massage and craniosacral therapy. Also a former Truth Be Told board member now serving as a volunteer editor for the Truth Be Told Community blog, serving women behind and beyond bars.
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3 Responses to How yoga is connected to Rolfing

  1. great stuff, never knew about the Rolfing and yoga connection. Yes, we are living in vital times of self-knowledge and freedom from body restrictions. Our health is up to us individually to negotiate.

  2. Hi MaryAnn,
    Yes, there is a very strong connection between yoga and Rolfing® SI. Dr. Rolf studied yoga in the 1920s with a man named Pierre Bernard. Robert Love wrote a great biography about Bernard titled “The Great Oom.” I recommend you read it to learn about the early, early days of yoga in the USA. I also wrote a blog post about Dr. Rolf, Bernard, and yoga that you might enjoy reading.

    http://rolfingjourney.com/history-of-rolfing%C2%AE-si/ida-rolf-was-studying-yoga-decades-before-the-beatles-discovered-the-maharishi-mahesh-yogi/

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