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So.  Session Six.  Let’s just dive right in, shall we?  With the start of Session Six, we are officially past the halfway point in the series, which always makes me nervous as a client, because I feel like there’s so much more to do.  But Session Six is also this lovely session where, for the first time in the series, we (as clients) are facedown, and we get oh-so-much work on the back.  Seeing as back pain (and hip pain and shoulder pain and sciatica, etc.) are so common, it’s a session a lot of people, myself included, look forward to.  The “territory” of Session Six is the back of the body.  More specifically, we work from the bottoms of the feet, up the backs of the legs, through the glutes, to the lower and middle back.  Are you noticing a pattern here?  In Sessions One and Two, we address the top and then the bottom.  In Three and Four, we work the outside and then the inside.  In Five and Six, we focus on the front and then the back.  It’s kinda genius, but it’s another reason why you might not want to start the 10-series if you can’t commit to finishing it.  I wouldn’t want you to have an open and flexible front without a matching back!

Dr. Rolf used to quiz her students about the goals of each session.  She’d ask, “What’s the goal of Session Three?”  And her students would hazard guesses such as “increase anterior-posterior depth” or “balance the body along a plumb line” or “transition the client from sleeve sessions to core sessions.”  And while none of those answers were wrong, none of them were the answer that Dr. Rolf was looking for.  Eventually, her students learned that whenever Dr. Rolf asked, “What’s the goal of Session (fill in the blank)?” the answer she wanted was “free the sacrum,” regardless of which session it was.  Apparently, Dr. Rolf thought freeing the sacrum was important enough to be the primary goal of every single one of the 10-series sessions.  However, in Session Six, we actually spend an entire session working directly to free the sacrum.  So, hooray!

Your sacrum, in case you were wondering, is that awesome bone at the bottom of your spine that’s comprised of five fused vertebrae, shaped in a curved triangle, between your last lumbar vertebra (on top), your coccyx (on bottom), and your two hip bones (on the left and right).  If you’ve ever had a session from me, it’s the bone I’m holding at the very end of every session.  It’s the Latin word for “sacred,” is considered our anatomical center and the keystone of the pelvis, and it’s tied to, in addition to your spine and hips, many muscles like the piriformis, one of your hamstrings, and a few of your pelvic floor muscles.  Your rectum is nestled right up against it.  So, nothing important.  Kidding.  I can see why freeing the sacrum would be so critical.  It seems like a bone you’d definitely want in the right position, and free to move how it needs to move.  The sacrum is held in a ligamentous bed, basically swimming in a sea of ligaments, and if any one of those ligaments is either too short or too long, you might have problems.  It’s a broad, annoying, and painful range of problems, too, from sciatica and constipation, up to headaches and TMJ problems, and down through plantar fasciitis, with many, many crappy options in between.  Freeing the sacrum is no joke.

Unfortunately, the sacrum is a bone (and an area of the body) I’ve found to hold trauma more than most.  I don’t know why.  I just see it a lot.  That time you drunkenly tried to do a high kick and and fell on your bum instead; that snowboarding tumble; that trip down icy stairs…if you injured your sacrum, it tends to give you trouble for 10, 20, or even 30 years, while your broken arm heals in a few months with no after-effects.  I’ve also found the back of the body to be where boundaries are established, maintained, and broken.  I’ve long felt that we give our energy out into the world from the front of the body; be it love, anger, support, or just our opinion.  Where we receive energy from the rest of the world is in the back of the body.  And the back of the body is where we make the decisions, conscious or not, around what we allow in and what we don’t.  I’ve often found with people who had boundaries violated in a big way at a young age, accessing and connecting to the backs of their bodies can be really challenging.  That might have something to do with trauma hanging around so long in the sacrum.  Perhaps.  But still, 20 years?  Come on, body.  Regardless of the reasons, Session Six can be a good one for beginning the process of reestablishing an awareness of that back body and learning where there might be more work to be done in establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries.

I had been looking forward to Session Six because I’m always looking for a little more attention to be paid to my hips and healthy boundaries are something I’ll probably be working on for the rest of my life.  But when it was time for me to get my Session Six, I had kinda broken myself and was very ready for a Rolfing session of any number, and I figured Six was as good as any other.  See, I’d been playing volleyball and I dove for a ball that I probably should have just let go.  I ended up feeling like I had whiplash, like someone had taken hold of my spine and given me a good shake.  From my left hip up to the left side of my head hurt.  I had a headache, rib pain, low back pain, as well as a charming inability to follow conversation.  My brain felt broken and swollen.  So, yeah, I was ready for some bodywork.

Session Six is the session that most people struggle to stay awake through, and I’m no exception.  I definitely drifted in and out of dreamland while receiving the work, but when I stood up afterwards, I felt tall, grounded, and clear-headed.  As per usual, Dave had worked his magic and gotten me all sorted out.  My pain and the headache were completely gone.  My left hip still felt a little off, but after a few days, that also seemed to sort itself out.  In fact, it’s been several months now since I had that Session Six and I haven’t had any problems with that left hip.  And that left hip had been bothering me for 13 years.  See what I mean about that sacrum trauma sticking around much longer than it’s welcome?

One more core session to go (and it’s a doozy!) before we get to the integration sessions!

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.

While I was in Chicago last week, I got a good question from one of my clients that I thought I’d share:  What happens when a client comes in with no pain?  Short answer:  I get really excited.

Now, for the long answer…

See, most of the people I see in my office are there looking to “fix” something, as you know because you watched last week’s interview, right?.  Your shoulder; your back; your left pinky toe; they all hurt and you want them not to hurt.  Which is great, and I get it.  Pain sucks; you want it to go away.  I want that, too.  And until we get rid of the pain, you’re not going to be able to focus on much else.

But my “real” goal as a Rolfer and as a SourcePoint Therapist is to allow health to manifest.  I want your true self to come forth and shine in its most vibrant form.  Don’t you want that, too?!?  Getting rid of the pain may be the first step in the process, but once that’s accomplished, we can focus on encouraging health and vibrancy.

So when a client comes in with no pain, I get excited.  It’s rare, you see, for someone to walk in my door just because they’re curious.  Just because they want to see what this Rolfing thing is all about.  Just because they heard that Rolfing could make you more you.  But when it happens, I love it.  Then, we get down to business.  This particular client, who has no pain, is the perfect candidate for the traditional 10-series because it’s such a thorough full-body tune up.  But 10 sessions is a big commitment and until you’re absolutely ready, it’s not the sort of thing you want to rush into.  So generally, we start the same way I’d start any other session, by setting the 4 diamond points and doing a scan.  Generally when people come in with no physical pain, we get to explore other layers of their being, such as the emotional, traumatic, or karmic blockages that may be preventing health from manifesting.  Often, this is tied up in the physical, but they’re not aware of the holding patterns, so we work on bringing awareness and releasing restrictions.

Working with clients who have no pain can throw me a little off kilter, seeing as I’m so used to working with a goal in mind.  But it also leaves a lot of room for creativity and just trusting the energy to lead me to the right place.  With no goal of “fixing the back pain,” I don’t worry that my own intentions or projections are skewing my intuition or the sourcepoint scans I’m doing.  Everything’s on the table, so to speak.  Nothing is too “off base” to be considered.  So, in the end, when a client comes in with no pain, I get excited.

 

Thanks for your help with Demo Day!
Next month there won’t be a Demo Day, but they’ll start back up on June 16th.

Want to learn how to do SourcePoint yourself?
One of the founders of SourcePoint Therapy is coming to Boulder May 18th-20th to teach an introductory class for anyone who wants to take it.  You don’t have to be a bodyworker or healthcare practitioner.  This form of energy work is easy to learn and very powerful for maintaining your own health as well as the health of your family members.  The cost is $375.  For more information, please contact Dave Sheldon at 303-519-2412.

Meditation/Bodywork Retreat
The Posture of Meditation:  Breathing Through the Whole Body.  October 26-November 4th, in Crestone, Colorado with Will Johnson.  Combining meditation techniques with Rolfing.  Participants will receive a Rolfing session every other day for a total of 5 sessions, while spending several hours each day in meditation.  If interested, please let me know.

I’ve been thinking about the fourth session of the Rolfing 10-series.  These are the sorts of things you think about when you’re a Rolfer, but not the sorts of things you think about if you have pretty much any other life.  Keep that in mind if you were thinking about a career change.  Anyway.  The fourth hour is big in a lot of ways.  It’s the first of the ‘core’ sessions, after the first three ‘sleeve’ sessions.  This focus of getting the body to relate to ‘core’ is key all through Rolfing and session four is continued through five, six, and seven, all of which wouldn’t be possible without that initial session four.  The focus is on the insides of the legs and the pelvic floor.  Not an area that’s often addressed in your typical massage.  In fact, Ida Rolf said the difference between massage therapists and Rolfers was that Rolfers had the guts to go for the pelvic floor.

Not that I have a problem with massage.  I’m not trying to start a fight here (although Ida might have been).  I think massage is really helpful for relaxation.  It’s great for calming a muscle that’s completely freaked out and won’t let go for all the tea in China.  But Rolfing has more of that get-to-the-root-of-the-problem approach so that your massage can be that much more enjoyable.  If you’re not focused on the pain in your shoulder, it might be easier to relax and enjoy the massage for what it’s supposed to be.

Of course, there are other differences as well.  Rolfers tend to use little, if any, oil, lotion, or other lubrication.  This is because our goal is not to slide over muscles, but to change the shape of the fascia.  We’re more about sinking in and waiting than gliding over the surface of everything.  Also, every session is different in Rolfing.  Even within the confines of the 10-series, there’s a lot of variation.  I’ve never done the same session twice, and I don’t plan to.  We don’t work symmetrically, which can also throw people used to massage for a loop.  It’s just that if you broke your right leg, but not your left, there’s no reason for me to work those legs in exactly the same way.  Rolfers tend to do a fair amount of assessment before and after a session, as well as throughout.  This can be visual, energetic, or tactile assessment, but you’d better believe it’s going on all the time when you’re getting Rolfed, whereas it might not be at any point during a massage.  Also, there’s more client involvement with Rolfing than is typically expected in a massage.  In the massages I’ve received, the most I’ve had to do was roll over from my stomach to my back.  In Rolfing I’ve gotten work while standing, walking, sitting, doing knee-bends and stretches, reaching my arms and legs in different directions, even moving my eyes to look right, left, up, and down.

Rolfers, as a general rule, don’t like being compared to massage therapists.  Which is kinda funny, ’cause well over half of the Rolfers in the world trained as massage therapists first and many of them maintain their massage certifications.  But the fact remains; the Rolfers I know think what they do is VERY different from massage.  I happen to agree.  But when you haven’t experienced Rolfing yourself, it’s hard to understand what could be so different.  You’re lying on a massage table for an hour, right?  Sure, but that’s about where the similarities end.  Now you know.  Go tell your friends.  Please.  I’m tired of meeting people and hearing “oh, Rolfing, that’s like a deep-tissue massage, right?”  No, sweetheart, not really.

1. Where are you located? Why? Because if you have to spend 90 minutes getting to your 90 minute appointments, you’re less likely to go. Just like a gym membership, Rolfing is more effective the more often you utilize it. While I know one person who took the bus 3 hours each way to his Rolfing appointments and went through the entire 10-series, most of us just aren’t that dedicated.

My A: My main office is at 662 Grant, on the second floor, in Denver, CO. I have a secondary office at 489 US. Hwy 287, inside the Baseline Chiropractic office in Lafayette, CO. I occasionally visit Chicago and when I do, I practice out of the Relaxation Station at 10655 S. Hale.

2. How much do you charge? Why? Because if you can’t afford it, there’s no reason asking any other questions. The average price range for Rolfing sessions varies widely by location, from $100 to $400. Again, Rolfing is more effective with more sessions, so plan for at least 3 visits. Rolfing is almost never covered by insurance.

My A: My fee is $120 per session. Children 10 and under are free. I don’t bill insurance companies, but am happy to provide treatment notes and receipts if this is an avenue you’d like to pursue.

3. What forms of payment do you take? Why? Because most Rolfers only accept cash and checks. You don’t want to show up with plastic and feel sheepish.

My A: I accept cash, checks, Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.

4. What is your style of working? Why? To know who’s a great or terrible fit for you and your body. You can learn a lot about a Rolfer by asking this question. -A “traditional” or “old school” Rolfer will tend to be very rough. Ida Rolf was not gentle, nor were the Rolfers who trained with her. This may be a good fit if you like super deep pressure, or are a masochist. -Someone who blends massage and Rolfing may used fascial release techniques in a traditional massage. This may be a good fit if you enjoy massage, but want a taste of Rolfing as well. -A movement practitioner is someone who’s completed an extra training to become movement certified. Movement work can be very powerful, but requires a lot of participation and involvement from the client. Not for those who are planning to sleep through their sessions. -Cranial-sacral work is very subtle, using very light pressure but with huge potential for change. Perfect for those afraid of “old school” Rolfing and awful for those who want an elbow in their quads.

My A: I use a broad spectrum of touch to get the maximum change with the minimum discomfort. While moments may be intense, most people find my work to be relaxing and enjoyable. I combine SourcePoint Therapy and Rolfing in a customized blend to fit your body and your needs. If you don’t want any energy work, or any hands-on work, I’m probably not the right fit for you as I have a hard time eliminating either completely. Oh, and you get to keep your clothes on during your session.

5. Do I need to do the 10-series? Why? Whether or not you want to receive the 10-series, you should know what your Rolfer has planned for you before you walk in the door.

My A: No; how many sessions you do is up to you. I do offer the traditional Rolfing 10­series if that’s the route you’d like to pursue, but it’s not expected. I’m happy to do targeted, customized sessions instead of following ‘the recipe.’

6. Where did you do your training? Why? Because Rolfers who trained in Brazil will have more of a movement emphasis in their work than people trained in the US or Germany. People who trained at the Guild for Structural Integration will be more traditional than people trained at the Rolf Institute®. Hellerworkers tend to integrate more talk therapy into their Structural Integration sessions. Neither Guild practitioners nor Hellerwork practitioners are considered “Rolfers” but are Structural Integrators.

My A: I trained at the Rolf Institute in Boulder, CO and have done all my continuing education there as well, except for one class in Santa Fe, NM.

7. How long have you been in practice? Why? This one’s a catch-22. Rolfers who have been in practice a long time obviously have more experience, which is a good thing. But there’s been a lot of research and new technique development in the 40 years that Rolfing’s been around. A Rolfer who hasn’t stayed on top of their continuing education may be working in an outdated way. Then again, a newer Rolfer may not have the experience needed to handle extremely complicated issues. And some people are just ‘naturals’ at Rolfing, whether they’re new or old. So it’s kind of a toss up, but it’s still good to know.

My A: I’m in my second year of practice.

If you’ve heard of Rolfing, you’ve probably heard two things: it hurts, and you have to do 10 sessions.  If you’re a client of mine, you already know that neither is necessarily true.  Rolfing can hurt, and you can do the 10-series, but neither are required.  I’ve talked quite a bit about pain, and how Rolfing doesn’t have to hurt, but I haven’t said much about the traditional Rolfing 10-series.  So what is this mysterious beast?  Let’s get into it.

Strangely enough, the 10-series is a set of 10 sessions, each with a specific goal.  (Weird that it’d be called the 10-series, I know.)  It’s also known as ‘the recipe’ and it was created by Ida Rolf herself, back in the 60′s.  See, Ida had this magical ability to look at a person and see where all the issues started.  She could watch someone walk, then say, okay, I’m going to start with their right shoulder, then go to their left knee, work a little on their tongue, and finish with their lower abdomen.  And the client would get up off the table and look great; their walk would be effortless.  When it came to teaching her students to see like she did, however, she ran into a bit of a problem: not everyone had this gift.  In fact, most people just couldn’t see the way she could, at least, not without several years of practice.  So, she developed the 10-series as a step-by-step way to go through the entire body.  This way, everything would get addressed and her students could be sure they hadn’t missed anything.

And what a beautiful recipe it is.  The first three sessions are called the ‘sleeve’ sessions and work with the surface, or outer layers of the body.  The next four are the ‘core’ sessions and get deep into the juicy bits.  The last three are the cleanup crew and the integration where we pick up any pieces that we missed and tie it all together.  Also, the sessions alternate between upper and lower body, so your whole being is moving forward together.

Unfortunately, the 10-series isn’t for everyone.  Don’t get me wrong; I think everyone can benefit from receiving a 10-series.  But it was designed for healthy people as a full body tune-up.  If you’re dealing with a serious leg injury, you might get frustrated when I spend 5 sessions nowhere near your legs.  It’s a very general recipe, which I do my best to tailor to each client’s needs, but if you have a major issue going on, it might be best to address that first, then go ahead with the 10-series.  Also, once you start a 10-series it’s very important to finish.  It’s a pretty big commitment and not for the faint of heart.

All in all, though, I LOVE the 10-series.  As part of my training, I’ve gone through the whole thing twice, which is not something that’s generally recommended, unless you’ve had 10 years or so in between (I had about 10 months).  I experienced huge, amazing, life-shifting changes with each journey through.  And a 10-series was my introduction to Rolfing, which obviously sold me on the whole experience.  So if your body feels good, but you want it to feel so much better, think about trying a 10-series.  I’d be happy to answer any other questions you might have about it, before you make that leap and jump into this wild ride of healing.