Working with gravity
As a basic premise, practitioners of structural integration view the body in big blocks (head, shoulders, torso, pelvis & legs). They then look at the relationships of these parts, not only between each other, but also how they stack up on top of one another. Once they are balanced, gravity can follow the path of least resistance in the body, and it becomes an energising rather than a depleting force. This is referred to as "the line", which was at the heart of Dr Rolf's work, and quite frankly, rather brilliant. Whether you are a small child building a tower of blocks or a grown-up building a real tower, you a) soon learn about gravity, and b) will get a better result if the individual parts are organised around a solid foundation. So, as with a tower, if a part of your body is out of kilter, it will have an effect on the whole structure. As she noted, "gravity is the therapist...when the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself".
Who was Ida P Rolf?
A rather clever lady, as it turned out, and a formidable woman to boot; she could reduce grown men to tears. She earned a Ph.D in biological chemistry from the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University in 1920, then later went on to study mathematics & atomic physics in Zurich and homeopathic medicine in Geneva - not a bad effort for the time. It was because of her own personal and family health problems that she became interested in exploring alternatives to traditional medical practices. She set about gaining an encyclopedic knowledge of the human body, spanning a huge spectrum of interest: osteopathy, chiropractics, reflexology, nutrition, the Alexander and Feldenkrais techniques, Gestalt therapy, Korzybski's general semantics and Gurdjieff's spiritual teachings, not to mention being an avid fan of the as-yet-unfashionable yoga. After years of research and practice, she came up with her own system (Structural Integration), taught it at the Esalen Institute in California, and subsequently set up her school (The Guild of Structural Integration) in Boulder, Colorado.