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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.

Hey there!  Today we’re talking about the weirdest thing Rolfers do, which is saying a lot, considering just how weird Rolfers are.  And that strange thing is nose work, or intranasal work.  Traditionally, this is done in the 7th hour of the 10-series, along with some work inside the mouth.

First, let’s talk a bit about the 7th session.  This session is devoted to the “upper pole” or the top of the thorax, the neck, and the head.  The goal is to create space front to back, differentiating the visceral cranium, or the face and the associated tongue, throat, and viscera (guts), from the neural cranium, or the back of the skull and the associated brain and spine.  This session is the last of the four “core sessions” before we move on to the “integration sessions” of 8, 9, and 10.  And since it’s the last core session, we Rolfers decided to go out with a bang and stick our pinky fingers into our clients’ noses.

We wear gloves for this, but let’s be honest, that doesn’t really make it any less strange.  While the mouth work is odd, we’ve all been to the dentist and are somewhat familiar with having someone else’s fingers inside our mouths.  Nose work, on the other hand…  What can I say?  It’s just plain weird.

Also, in my opinion (again, I’m a Rolfer), it’s totally awesome.  I love receiving nose work.  It makes my head feel spacious and open.  It feels like my sinuses are cleared out afterwards.  I feel like my peripheral vision has just been polished and shined and I can see twice as much.  I can breathe easier.  In fact, I want some nose work right now.  Too bad the dog isn’t a Rolfer.  But I digress.

Mouth and nose work can also be emotionally intense.  Our face is where we express to the world all of our emotions.  Sadness, grief, anger, joy, excitement, fear, nervousness, regret, apathy, frustration, and the like all come out, hopefully, through our face.  Every issue we have around eating, or not eating, starts here, at the mouth.  The throat chakra is smack in between the heart chakra and the third eye, or the head chakra.  It’s where your will rests, and until you can get your head and your heart to agree, your will is going to have a hard time making itself known.

It’s not all emotional roller coasters and sinus clearing, though.  Intranasal work can be super helpful for people suffering from chronic headaches and migraines.  The intraoral (mouth) work can be great for TMJ sufferers.  And since you already know, as an A+ Rolfing client, that everything in the body is connected via the fascia, you also know that work in the cranium can affect everything else in the body, all the way down to the bottoms of your feet.  Which is pretty crazy.  But not as crazy as having someone else stick their fingers in your nose.