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Ugh.  Writing about Session Five has been Such. A. Struggle.   I may be guilty of some perfectionistic tendencies.  And I really love Session Five and want to do it justice, honoring its magic.  But it’s also this deep session, at the core of the 10-series that works on the center of the body, corresponding to central aspects of our emotional beings.  Which all leads to me not having the easiest time writing about this gorgeous session.  But I’m going to try.

In Session Five we’re hitting the reset button.  We’re awakening the core.  We’re asking “Who am I?” relative to the inside self, the center, to instinct and vulnerability.  This is a core/sleeve session.  This is a top/bottom session.  This is a front/back session.  In other words, this session is the motherlode.  No wonder I love this session.

The main focus of Session Five, structurally, is the psoas, a muscle I didn’t even know existed before I first got Rolfed.  But now, I know and love the psoas, and hopefully you will, too.  The psoas is this beautiful muscle, or really, there are two, matching beautiful muscles, the psoai.  They run from the front and sides of the lumbar vertebrae (and the last thoracic vertebra), down through the pelvis and connect to the tops of the femurs.  Here’s a drawing of the psoai with their partners in pelvis stability, the illiacus muscles, which also get attention in Session Five:

The psoai are strong, long, and luscious.  Or, at least they should be.  Most of us spend so much time sitting that we have shorter than ideal psoai and they tend to be locked and loaded all the time, without the ability to relax and lengthen.  When you lift your leg in front of you, to go up a stair, for instance, your psoas is one of the main muscles responsible for that action.  And when you swing your leg behind you, to take a long, graceful step, for instance, your psoas needs to relax and lengthen.  Did you know your legs start above your belly-button?  Because they do, and the psoas is the muscle responsible for that.  I’ve found in my practice that overly tight and shortened psoas muscles are responsible for almost all the low-back pain I ever see, and I see a lot of low-back pain.  Shortened psoas muscles can also lead to hip pain, groin pain, sciatica, neck pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, restricted breathing, and jaw pain.  It seems like a pretty important muscle.  Oh, and to get to the psoas, we have to work through 4 layers of more superficial abdominal muscles and around the majority of your viscera (organs), just for funsies.  Session Five is amazing, but I never said it was comfortable.

Session Five goals (beside simply loving the psoas) include:

  • increased anterior-posterior (front to back) depth; (remember that Double Stuf Oreo we started working on in Session Three?)
  • to begin helping the core space open from the pelvic floor to the roof of the mouth
  • balancing the relationship of the thorax (rib cage) to the pelvis
  • establishing the front of the spine
  • having the legs function from the lumbo-dorsal hinge (at the bottom of the ribs)

We are working here with the front of the back and the back of the front.  What’s more representative of the front of the back than a muscle that connects to the front of the spine, but is considered an abdominal muscle (as opposed to a back muscle)?  When I first learned about the psoas, this concept blew my mind.  I’d never thought about the front of my spine before.  I don’t think it had occurred to me that my spine HAD a front.  Obviously, it does.  I just hadn’t thought about it.  This is the core of the core.  This muscle is the physical embodiment of the place between future and past, between top and bottom, and is literally at our center.  This is the session where we ask questions like:  What is core?  What is surface?  Where and how do they connect?  Are they balanced in relation to each other?

Naturally, on a personal level, I was interested to see if and how this session, with it’s deep abdominal focus would effect my ‘hip thing.’  And I’m always down for a little exploration around “Who am I, really?”  So I was excited to receive Session Five.  It did not disappoint.  As per usual, Dave worked his magic.  Some standard, structural Rolfing with a nice mix of SourcePoint to clear out some fear I didn’t know was hiding in my abdomen.  I got up from the table after receiving Session Five and started singing “I’ve got no strings” from Pinocchio.  Seriously.  My joints all felt so smooth and loose, without being floppy or sloppy.  And I felt a lot taller, and longer along my whole front, as if I’d been unzipped from a too-tight casing.  This is what I felt like:  I took a little walk around Dave’s office and felt so upright and tall, with my shoulders effortlessly back behind me, instead of rounding forward.  My feet were contacting the ground well and comfortably.  It was amazing.  And two weeks later, I still had no trouble with my ‘hip thing.’  Since Session Five, though, I have had a lot of internal and emotional upheaval.  A lot of questioning around what’s really important to me and whether or not my life reflects those things.  Questions around integrity and long-term happiness and fulfillment.  Again, this session is amazing (and obviously important), but not necessarily comfortable.  I’m grateful for the experience.  Session Five rules.

 

In the last week I’ve gotten two very sweet texts from two very sweet women who have both gone through the 10-series with me in the past.  Both were saying ‘thank you’ for the experience because of the effect it had on their lives.  And so, I thought it might be time to once again rave about how awesome the 10-series is.

Luckily, I have a stockpile of before and after pictures from several clients I still haven’t shared with you.  So today, we’re going to talk about Dave and his experience with the 10-series.  When Dave came in, he’d been dealing with chronic back pain for about 10 years that had initially started with a football injury.  He also had occasional numbness and tingling in his leg and pain in his shoulders and arms.  While Dave is super active, the pain in his low back prevented him from moving with the ease and confidence he used to enjoy.  We went through the traditional Rolfing 10-series pretty quickly, averaging only 1-2 weeks between sessions.

Let’s take a look at Dave’s before and after pictures from the front and back, shall we?  (Before is on the left and after is on the right.)

Can we just start with Dave’s face for a second?  Because, seriously, his face just looks so drastically different in the two pictures.  The second one looks so open and clear and wide, if that makes any sense.  It’s almost as if in the first picture, his facial features are a little smushed together and in the second one, they’ve been set free.  Then we can move down to Dave’s neck, which seems to have lengthened by about an inch post-10-series.  Dave the Giraffe, we’ll have to call him now.  Then scan down to his shoulders, where Dave starts out with his left shoulder much higher than his right.  In the after picture, there’s still an imbalance, but it’s greatly reduced.  Next, check out that six-pack.  See how the right side and the left side of Dave’s six-pack don’t match?  We want them to match.  And while they’re not perfectly symmetrical, after 10 sessions, the horizontal lines are much closer to actually being horizontal than diagonal, don’t you think?  Lastly, let’s check out Dave’s feet, which are almost  pointing straight forward after the 10-series, instead of out to the sides a bit.  Yay!  In the pictures of Dave’s back, we can again see that long neck and those even shoulders.  Take a look at his shoulder blades.  In the first picture, his shoulders are rounding forward, making his shoulder blades flare out, like little wings.  But in the after picture, those shoulder blades can just lay flat on Dave’s back, giving him broader shoulders and more openness through his chest.  And check out the quality of Dave’s back as a whole, before and after.  Doesn’t the second one just look…better?  Smoother, straighter, and longer?  As we look at Dave’s legs we can see again that some of the outward rotation is gone, but also that Dave’s legs are more under him, not splayed out wide.  Just by changing his posture, Dave’s gotten taller.

Now let’s take a look at Dave’s profile to see if we notice any changes there.

Personally, I think this left profile of Dave’s shows the most dramatic changes.  Just look at him!  We’ve already talked about the face, neck, and shoulders and you can see all those changes here again.  But look at Dave’s low back in the first and second pictures.  See how he has that extreme curve in the first one?  See how long and tall he is in the second one?  Crazy!  And his chest over his abdomen looks so much more proportionate in the second (and fourth) pictures.  As we take a look at Dave’s legs, we can see that more length in his hamstrings allows even his legs to get longer and taller.

However, all of my excitement over Dave’s improved posture and structure is useless if Dave doesn’t feel any different himself.  So what did he have to say about his 10-series experience?  Here are just a couple phrases from a little exit interview we did:
“I would recommend it to anybody.”
“I don’t feel any pain.  Like, I don’t feel that constant, nagging, sharp pain every step, and every time I sit up, every time I sit down.”
“I used to only be able to use the elliptical at the gym…because it was easier on my back, easier on my knees.  Around the 4th or 5th session I was able to start running again, regularly.”
“It was just smooth, it was natural, there was no windedness, no tiring in any part of the body, it was just like a complete machine, working as it should.  It felt great.”
“Six months ago I was contemplating going to see an orthopedic surgeon because my back hurt so bad.  It was literally constant pain.  Sleeping, walking, sitting at my desk, anything, it hurt.”
“This past week at the gym I felt like Hercules, it was fantastic.”
“I feel fortunate to have been exposed to this, this early in my life.”
“I feel like I haven’t felt in ten years.”

So there you have it.  Two lovely women and one lovely Dave, all big fans of the 10-series.  And me, too.  I just keep coming back to how great it is.  That Ida knew what she was doing when she designed the thing, that’s for sure.