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Session Seven is such a weird session. If anyone’s heard about the Rolfing 10-series from a friend, they’ve probably heard about Session Seven. This is THE ONE. The session where we work inside the mouth and INSIDE THE NOSE. Sure, it’s weird and not super comfortable to have someone else’s fingers inside your mouth, but we’ve all been to the dentist a time or two and gotten over that. As the joke goes: you can pick your friends; you can pick your nose; but you can’t pick your friend’s nose. Unless you’re a Rolfer. And Session Seven is where I get to pick other people’s noses. Well, not pick, exactly, but stick my pinky fingers in them. Close enough.

I should probably back up a bit. The goal of Session Seven is not simply to be a weirdo for the sake of being a weirdo, or for a great answer to the “what did you do today?” question. It’s not just to make my clients squirm, either. The goal of Session Seven is to differentiate your neurocranium from your viscerocranium. Your head (and my head, and everyone’s head) can be divided into two parts, based on the work that each half does. The back and top of your head houses your brain and therefore is in charge of your nervous system. Hence the title of neurocranium. The front and bottom of your head is connected to and works with your organs of digestion, or your viscera. Hence your viscerocranium. Your mouth, like it or not, is connected to your anus and everything along the way. Tension in your tongue can affect your small intestine. And the goal of Session Seven is to relieve excess tension in the whole neck and cranium and to balance your head on your body. We’re working here with the muscles of expression, be it joy, grief, or pride as well as perception, through sight, sound, smell, and taste. In the mouth, we’re working with muscles related to eating or not eating, and therefore all of our issues around food. And there are often physically traumatic experiences related to dental or orthodontic work, rhinoplasty, or a good old fashioned punch to the face to work on as well. Chronic sinus infections, migraines and headaches, and issues with vision are just a few of the reasons you might be excited for Session Seven, even if the thought of someone else’s fingers in your nose wigs you out.

Personally, I was excited to receive Session Seven because leading up to it, I’d had some issues with my first and second rib on the right side popping out of place. I’ve had wiggly ribs since I first dislocated one when I was 17. Thanks to lots and lots of Rolfing, I now experience rib problems once or twice a year instead of every day, like I used to, but it’s my thing. Some people get headaches or throw their backs out or have knee problems. I dislocate my ribs. And so, probably due to stress or some other such nonsense, I’d been having some discomfort with those top two ribs, the little jerks. Along with that, I’d been noticing that I’d been clenching my jaw at night, waking up with a sore face. Lastly, I’d been waking myself up by snorting and snoring, which is not my usual habit. Clearly, something, or several things, in the top portion of my body were out of alignment, and I was definitely ready for Session Seven.

A note about Session Seven: while yes, there is a portion of the session where, traditionally, your Rolfer will stick their fingers in your nose, it is a very small portion of the session. In a 90 minute session, it’s usually less than 2 minutes. And another 2-3 minutes of work inside the mouth. Almost all of the time during Session Seven is spent preparing all the surrounding tissues for that work. So, there’s work around the whole rib cage. There’s work through the shoulders and sometimes down the arms and into the hands. There’s a lot of neck work, as well as work on your skull and face. One of my favorite anatomy terms comes into play in this session as we try to loosen the galea aponeurotica, which is like a swim cap of fascia. Session Seven is the fascial face-lift session.

I’m not going to lie, though. Having Dave’s fingers in my nose wasn’t awesome. It wasn’t terrible, either. It was just uncomfortable. And it was over in less than two minutes, so I really couldn’t complain. Especially because when the session was over, I felt so good. It felt like there was more space in my head and my jaw felt a lot looser. I stood up and felt taller and more balanced top to bottom. Like there was a force, exactly opposite to gravity, that was pulling me up as gravity pulled me down. I also noticed that I was more aware of my periphery, as if someone had pulled a big hood off my head and suddenly I could see to the sides again. My chest felt lifted and open while my feet, oddly enough, felt grounded and strong and stable. And while I got the hiccups three times that afternoon, I haven’t had that jaw tension, or rib problems, or snoring issues since.

And if you’re still worried about Session Seven, you don’t have to get the work inside your nose or mouth. There are actually several reasons your Rolfer might choose not to work inside your mouth or nose. One of those perfectly legitimate reasons is that you simply don’t want them to. So, not to worry.

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.

 

Who’s ready for more comparisons?  I know I am!  Today, we’re taking a look at Marissa, who also did a 5 series.  Thank you Marissa, for your willingness to be photographed through this process.  Now, let’s take a look at Marissa’s before (on the left) and after (on the right) pictures.  What do you think?

See how Marissa’s shoulders are uneven in the first pictures?  Look at how level they are after 5 sessions!  Her head is even tilted to the side at first, but straight up after the work.  And her neck looks longer as well!  We can start to see Marissa’s arms coming further back, too.  If you take  a look at the pictures of her back, you can see so much more of her forearms and hands after the five sessions than before, eh?  Then, let’s take a look at Marissa’s legs.  See how her legs come in at the knees and go back out at the ankles?  Notice how they are closer to parallel in the ‘after’ pics?  Her feet are more parallel, too.  And if you look at the pictures of her back again, notice the creases in the back of her knees.  See how they’re coming closer to horizontal in the after pictures?  Yeah, you sure do!  Lookin’ good, Marissa!

Now we can look at her pictures from the side.  Oh boy!

Just like with Steve, we can immediately notice how Marissa’s ears are coming back over her shoulders and how her head is more on top of her body than in front of it.  Hooray!  We notice her shoulders are less rounded forward, allowing her shoulder blades to rest flat against her back.  There’s an easily visible smaller curve in Marissa’s low back, making her taller and more upright in general.  And we can see the same changes we saw in Steve’s legs, where they are more relaxed and balanced looking after 5 session, making them look less ropey than before.

Pretty thrilling, don’t you think?  And for those of you who are always asking me, “yeah, but does it last?”  These ‘after’ pictures were taken two weeks after Marissa’s last session.  Still pretty dramatic in my book.  So what do you think?  I’d love to hear your feedback, when you get a chance.

Who doesn’t love some good before and after pictures, eh?  I’ve been pretty excited about this whole photo/video project I’ve been working on for the past couple months.  And I’m excited to share that two people are finished with their 5-serieses.  Serieses?  That can’t be right.  Whatever the plural of 5-series is, that’s what I meant to say.  Regardless, today we’re going to do a little visual analysis of the before and after pictures of Mr. Steve.  I hope you’re ready, ’cause it’s going to be absolutely thrilling.  Let me tell you.

Okey dokey.  To get started, let’s take a minute to say thank you to Steve for his willingness to be photographed in his underwear.  What  a champ!  Then, let’s take a look at Steve’s before and after pictures with him facing forward and backward.

So, when I look at these photos, the changes from before the first session (on the left) and after the 5th session (on the right) are pretty dramatic.  But, I look at people’s structures all day long.  Just ask my friends.  I can’t go anywhere without pointing out people who need Rolfing.  I’m pretty annoying.  Let’s get back to Steve, though, shall we?  Let’s take the first two pictures, of Steve’s front.  Can we just look at those shoulders?  I mean, wow.  Not only does he look 6 inches broader, but those shoulders are pretty damn close to even in height in the second picture…not so much in the first.  Yay!  And look at that head!  It’s like the turtle has come out of his shell in the second picture.  As we take a look at Steve’s back, we see that same breadth across the shoulders.  Gorgeous.  Now, take a look at Steve’s feet.  Notice how much more parallel they are in the ‘after’ pictures?  Yeah, I bet you do.  Ready for more?

Let’s move on to a little side action.  This is where it gets really crazy.  I hope you’re prepared.

Check out that neck!  Steve’s probably an inch taller, with his head over his shoulders instead of out in front of them.  And again, there are those stunning shoulders.  Rolled forward in the first pictures, and not so much in the after pics.  Love it!  And take a look at his chest.  In the before shots, there’s a bit of a shortening, or a collapsing of his rib cage.  In the after pictures, he’s all puffed up like a robin on the first day of spring.  As we take a look at his abdomen, we notice that just from postural changes, it looks like Steve’s lost 5 pounds of belly.  No sit-ups involved!  Through his legs we can see that the muscles look more balanced and relaxed after the 5-series and less ropey than they did beforehand.  And then we’ve got one last look at those much-closer-to-parallel feet.  Huzzah!

Well, this all might not be as exciting to you as it is to me.  But as you know, I don’t normally take before and after pictures in my practice.  So it’s been fun seeing the visual results of these sessions.  Maybe, with practice, or enough time spent hanging out with me, you too can annoy your friends by pointing out strangers who need Rolfing!  Fingers crossed.

Next up, we get to check out Marissa’s pictures.  I’m on the edge of my seat.  Until then, enjoy this beautiful spring, SassyPants!

—-Announcements—-

The next Demo Day will be Monday, April 15th (come after you’ve mailed your taxes)!
If you have people in your life you feel would benefit from a session with me, this is the perfect way to get a little taste with very little commitment.  30 minute sessions for $10 each.  New clients only.

Meditation/Bodywork Retreat
This is actually happening, people.  I never thought it would get here, but it’s this month!  The Posture of Meditation:  Breathing Through the Whole Body.  April 26th through May 5th in beautiful Crestone, Colorado with Will Johnson.  Combining meditation techniques with Rolfing.  Participants will receive a Rolfing session every other day for a total of 4 sessions, while spending several hours each day in guided meditation.  I’ll be there Rolfing and meditating my heart out.  Will you?  For more information, please click here.