Ida P. Rolf graduated in 1916 from Barnard College in New York City. Because at the time so many men were serving in World War I, Rolf had an opportunity to become a researcher at the Rockefeller Institute. She next went on to earn a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. Rolf earned her Ph.D. in 1920 - the same year American women won the right to vote. After earning her Ph.D., she continued to work at the Rockefeller Institute and rose to the rank of associate, at the time a major achievement for a woman.
In the 1920s, while Rolf was searching for solutions to her and her two sons’ health problems, she began developing what eventually would become known as Structural Integration. News of her work spread and soon people who had been unable to find solutions to their health problems began seeking Rolf’s assistance.
In 1927, Rolf travelled to Switzerland to study mathematics, atomic physics and homeopathy. After she returned to the United States, she continued her quest during the 1930s to uncover answers for troublesome health issues that the medical establishment seemed unable to solve. Rolf explored the emerging modalities of osteopathy, chiropractic, homeopathy, the Alexander Technique and Alfred Korzybski's work with human consciousness, as well as the ancient Indian practice of yoga.
The most effective modalities that she studied were based on proper physical alignment and function. It became evident to Rolf that balanced anatomical structure was integral to optimal health and well-being. Her goal became to develop a modality that would help align the human body to the pull of gravity. She stated that structural imbalances place inordinate demands on the body's soft tissues (muscles and fascia), which create compensatory patterns and patterns of strain throughout the body. She theorized that "bound up" fascia often restricts opposing muscles from functioning in harmony with each other. Her goal, then, became to refine a modality in which practitioners could manipulate fascia until it would operate in conjunction with muscles in "normal" fashion.
Into the 1940s Rolf continued applying her new methods to people seeking help. She worked out of a Manhattan apartment to a full schedule and devoted herself to further developing her technique, which she now called Structural Integration.
As the decades moved on Rolf began training others in Structural Integration, which in the 1960s took her to the center of the human potential movement - Esalen Institute on the California Coast. In 1971, she founded the Guild for Structural Integration, and in 1977 she wrote Rolfing: The Integration of Human Structures. Until her death in 1979, Rolf taught classes, gave leadership to the Guild for Structural Integration, continued with her research and continued to transform lives with Structural Integration.
Aligning The Body ~ Creating Ease
Ida P. Rolf - Creator of Rolf Structural Integration
Ida P. Rolf — Creator of Rolf Structural Integration
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