Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: March 2016

From my class notes on the 10-series: “You get to do in Session Ten what you wanted to do in Session One, but couldn’t.” This right here is why I love the 10-series. The slow, methodical, dedicated unwinding of old patterns that are so deep and ingrained that going straight for them in the first session could be impossible and would very likely be traumatic. The patterns we currently use to breathe, sit, stand, and walk may not be the most comfortable or efficient ways to do any of those things, but they’re old and deep and they’ve gotten us this far. They’re safe.

Which is why, in the first three sessions of the 10-series, known as the “sleeve” or “superficial” sessions, we start by focusing on adaptability. Improving the client’s ability to integrate changes. What’s the point of giving someone a great new pair of legs if they don’t know how to use them? We try to assist the body in opening and lengthening to organize those outer layers of the body before the deep work of the “core” sessions. But there’s also this idea that the sleeve of our body is the boundary between our core being and the outside world. The sleeve is responsible for our external interactions and the boundaries we set. This is where our sense of self as defined by our interactions with others is established. Not only are we concerned with the boundary between ourself and the outside world, but the boundary between our inner self and our outer self. Are they congruent? Does this meat suit match the soul? Do our actions match our intentions? That all sounds pretty important, right?

But. Still. Session One of Ten. I’ll be the first to admit, I have favorites in the 10-series and this session is not one of them. Which is so strange and illogical, I know. I mean, the first time I ever got Rolfed, Session One of the 10-series was it, and it was definitely love at first sight. And I know from my practice, that many of my clients feel the same way, falling hard for that first session. But what can I say? Now that I know the 10-series so well, I find Session One a little boring compared to some of the others. I mean, Two? I love Two! And Five? I think Five is probably my ultimate favorite. But I love Seven, too. And Four. I really love Four. But One? Session One feels like sleep. Sure, sleep is important. Super, duper important. I’ve built my life around getting enough sleep. But I wouldn’t call sleep exciting. Same with Session One. Clearly important. Not so clearly exciting.

Which isn’t to say I wasn’t looking forward to Session One. I was. Because, honestly, I’ve never had a bad session from Dave. So, if anyone could make Session One really pop, Dave could do it. And I knew I needed it.

There’s a lot that goes into the first session of the 10-series. In the short-hand in my head, it’s the free-the-breath session. From a structural standpoint, the goals of Session One are to differentiate the ribcage from the shoulder girdle, the shoulder girdle from the arms, the shoulder girdle from the neck, the pelvis from the legs and the pelvis from the ribcage. All in one session! According to the master, Ray McCall, Session One goals (for the Rolfer, not the client) are as follows:
Establish rapport/relationship with your client.
Teach the client how to be Rolfed.
Learn from the client how you can best Rolf them.
Make it easier for the body to breathe.
Prepare the body for subsequent changes.

Well. Like I said last time, Dave and I have been trading sessions for about 5 years now. We’ve already established a rapport and a relationship, so that mission’s been accomplished. Each of us is pretty practiced at both being Rolfed and Rolfing the other, so we’ve got 2 and 3 on lock. Goal 4, though, that’s what I really needed. A couple weeks back I had a minor surgery. And I had noticed since then that the biggest hit my body took, had been in my lungs (even though the surgery itself was nowhere near my lungs). I took a week off from running, and it was slow getting back into it, but while my legs and torso and arms all felt fine and strong, it was my lungs that were really holding me back as I worked back up to my normal mileage. So, yeah, I needed a little help in the breathing department. And as for goal 5, it’s never a bad idea to prep for what’s ahead. Anything Dave could do here in Session One to make the work of the later sessions easier would be appreciated.

So, even if Session One isn’t my favorite, I figured I should probably get it anyways. I guess.

And so I did. And thank goodness. That was a crazy session. I mean, I knew Dave was a next-level sorcerer, but wow. During the session, I got the shakes and the yawns and the stretches and probably fell asleep for a few minutes…you know, the full range. I have a hard time describing what it feels like to receive Rolfing because it’s just so all over the place. Sometimes it hurt (who knew my lateral hamstrings were so tight?!), sometimes there was that deep achey feeling (in my left wrist? really?), sometimes I felt the urge to wiggle or stretch or shake (and I wonder, is that leftover from so many years in Catholic school being told to sit still with my hands folded?), and sometimes my breath got all big and full and delicious (aaaaahhhh!). But what I can definitely describe is how it felt afterward. I stood up from the table and felt like a huge, old oak tree. So tall and solid and straight, I was afraid I’d hit my head on the ceiling. But also so grounded and stable, I felt like I had roots extending 30 feet down into the ground. It was beautiful. Oh, and my breath felt full and deep and easy. Like it was extending out to my fingertips and toes and eyeballs. Goal #4 of making it easier for the body to breathe? Check. Honestly, I felt like we’d already done a whole 10-series. Like my body was all tuned up and ready to go. Throughout the rest of the day, I kept having little things settle out. My left sacroiliac joint would ache and I would need to stretch it a little. My feet and ankles wanted to wiggle, so I let them. I found I wanted/needed to move a lot and shift positions often, which is probably something I should do always, but after getting that session I was much more aware of my body’s requests for movement. A few days later, I took those new lungs for a 4-hour run/hike through Eldorado Canyon and they felt as good as new. I guess Session One is alright, after all. I’m glad I didn’t skip it, for sure.

Next up, Session Two! And real quick, before I go, another gem from my classroom notes: “This is not a spectator sport. The client should be working as hard as the practitioner.” Um. I know some of my clients work really hard in their sessions, but maybe I should wake some of the others up and make sure they’re pulling their weight.

Hey SassyPants,

I’ve been meaning to drop you a note about how awesome Katy Bowman is and how you should read her books and listen to her podcast and watch her videos and read her blog.  And that’s probably going to happen at some point, because Katy Bowman is my hero and she is, indeed, awesome and you should, indeed, do all those things.  But, this isn’t that note.

What I want to talk about today, is the Rolfing 10-series.  This is a weird one for me for many reasons.  While I love, love, love the 10-series, I don’t recommend the 10-series very often.  It’s such a big commitment.  I find the thought of committing to 10 whole sessions, right off the bat, to be intimidating to a lot of people.  I mean, we just met.  I’m not going to ask you to commit to spending 15 hours and $1,200 with me, right from the start.  Sometimes a client walks in already committed.  They want the 10-series.  They’ve watched my videos and read my blog posts; they feel like they already know enough about me.  They’ve researched the 10-series, or had a friend or relative go through it and it’s something they’ve wanted to do for a while.  They’re ready.  And good for them.  But that’s not average.  Most people come to me because something hurts and they’ve tried everything else and it hasn’t worked and finally they’re ready to give big, scary Rolfing a try.  So, no, I’m not going to tell those brave souls that they now need to commit to coming back 9 more times and undertaking this huge transformative journey.  Especially when it might not be right for them.

If you’re in agony, the 10-series is not for you.  The 10-series is for healthy people who want to be healthier.  It’s for people who feel good, but want to feel great.  If you have low-back pain that makes it so you can’t sleep, can’t sit without pain, can’t enjoy a meal, do you really want to wait until the 6th session before we work on your back?  ‘Cause that’s how the 10-series is set up.  If you put one to three weeks between sessions, we’re looking at 6 to 18 weeks before we directly address your back pain.  Sure, with the magic of fascia being everywhere and all connected, your back pain might go away after we address your breath in session one.  Or maybe after we address your feet and lower legs in session two.  But maybe not.  Remember, most of my clients are coming to me after they’ve been in pain for a long time, and have tried a lot of other things that haven’t worked.  The last thing I’m going to tell them is to give me a month or three to see if maybe I can help.

But I do love, love, love the 10-series.  So, when a client is ready for it, I get excited.  And the other day, when my Rolfer friend, Dave sent me this text, “Want to trade a ten series?” I got pretty excited, and “yes!” was the only response available to me.  I’ve been through the process of receiving the 10-series 2 1/2 times before, but it’s been 4 1/2 years since that last half a time through.  And, this may sound odd, but I’ve never actually received the 10-series from a Certified Rolfer™.  What?!  I know!!  My first introduction to Rolfing, and trip through the 10-series was as a model for a student in a class of soon-to-be Rolfers.  And my second trip through was in my own class, halfway through my training, when all of us students did the 10-series on each other.  My 1/2 journey through the series was when a similar class had a student drop out in the middle and since they were all working on each other, they needed someone to step in and take his spot.  I was that person.  So, all of my Rolfers in my experience of the 10-series, have been students.  When I realized a few days ago that I was about to get my first 10-series from a Certified Rolfer, and a very experienced, skilled Rolfer, who does SourcePoint, at that, I almost started wagging my tail I was so pumped.  (I don’t actually have a tail, but I often wish I did.)

For those of you who haven’t researched the 10-series extensively, or who haven’t already been through it, the 10-series is basically one really big, full-body session broken down into 10 pieces, because 10-15 hours of bodywork in one day is too much for anyone to receive, as well as too much for one bodyworker to give.  It’s broken up into three segments.  Sessions 1-3 are called the superficial, or sleeve sessions, with the structural goal of opening the outer layer of the body, to prepare it for the deeper work to come.  Sessions 4-7 are called the deep or core sessions, and they work with (surprise!) deep or core structures that aren’t often addressed in a typical massage.  And sessions 8-10 are the integrative sessions where we focus on finding the highest possible level of organization, connection, and communication throughout the body.  Each session has goals of its own, both structural and energetic in nature.  And each Rolfer and client can have specific goals for the series as a whole.  When Dave asked me what my goals for the series were, I’ll admit, I didn’t have a great answer.  My goals are kinda vague and nebulous.  I mean, I’ve already had a lot of Rolfing.  Even if I haven’t been through the 10-series in a while, Dave and I have been trading a session every month or two for about 5 years now.  And I’m a Rolfer.  I do a fair amount of self-care as I need it.  I stretch while waiting for clients to show up.  I’m mindful of my posture and my habits.  But at the same time, I haven’t had dedicated, focused, regular bodywork in a long time.  Since my last 10-series, I’ve gone from never running to being an ultra runner.  I got really into yoga, doing 3-6 classes a week, and then stopped doing yoga altogether.  I’ve taken up (and put back down) climbing.  I met and married my husband.  I’ve moved a few times.  I’ve made friends and lost friends.  I got a pull-up bar.  You know, things change.  And there are a lot of little things that bug me regularly.  My right foot turns out to the side a bit.  My left hip aches now and again.  My shoulders round forward more than I’d like.  And every now and again I have a rib go out of place for a few days.  So, I’d like to address all of those, if we can.  It just feels like I could use a full-body tune up.  Which, the 10-series is great for.  Also, enlightenment.  I’d like to achieve enlightenment.  The 10-series can do that, right?

So, I’m starting the 10-series and I’m going to try to write about it as I go.  Both from the perspective of a Rolfer, knowing the objectives of each session and all the nerdy behind-the-scenes goodness, and from the perspective of a client, receiving the sessions in an attempt at greater health.  I hope it’s interesting or helpful or entertaining.  (Also, if you’ve been thinking about doing a 10-series yourself, this might be a great time to try it, as I’ll be digging through all my notes and whatnot from classes that I may not have looked at in, oh, 5 or 6 years.  Good stuff.)  Let the journey begin!