What can I stand on; to be myself, in my own power?
I have been working with a great Hatha Yoga teacher, Charles Matkin of Stepping Stones Yoga.
He’s helped me make connections in myself that I have been trying to get to for a long time. It’s been wonderful for my own body-mind – and it has given me great resources to contribute to my clients.
He’s helped me a lot with breathing and how the ribs and diaphragm work. Especially great is that he’s showed me restrictions in myself and helped and taught me ways to open up and evolve my own breathing. Especially key for me has been expanding my ribs on the inhale and lifting my diaphragm and getting support from the abdominal muscles for the exhale.
Finding and perfecting that abdominal support within myself has been a huge part of the understandings about supporting my spine in gravity and movement.
He also taught me how the main hinge for the spine is at the hip joint, where the femur attaches to the pelvis.
Getting that into my body and understanding has been huge. I was trying to lift from my mid-back, instead of lifting my whole spine and whole body. I wasn’t supporting from below. Psychologically – it was as if I was trying to get out of myself; trying hard to be better, based on an inner self rejection.
Now I can see and work with these non-adaptive body patterns in my clients. I can make a big contribution to them that I couldn’t make before. Most of my clients seem to have some gross or some subtle issues with support of their spine. These issues now show up much clearer for me, and I have a solution for them
This process has shed light on another whole area that I have struggled with. In Rolfing we have two main arenas for our goal of integrating and organizing our structure. We are educating the body-mind through:
1. what we tend to call regular Rolfing work, physical “manipulation”.
2. What we call Rolfing Movement – where we are having the clients do a lot of work with their own conscious attention and effort.
The manipulation removes a lot of blocks and restriction, and opens up new possibilities for change – for being different in our body. A client gets that direct experience of being in a different body so to speak, or having a big change in how they experience their body; which is very inspiring.
Rolfing Movement in part is about choosing to live in the new possibilities, and exploring how to do that. I think there are many great schools of thought and experience from outside the Rolfing community about this part of our work, schools that we can learn so much from. We are doing that learning and that is one thing that is wonderful about our school. We bring our unique gifts and viewpoints and are able to incorporate other insights. I feel that there is not so much “competition” in regards to the Rolfing manipulation part. There is a lot of good work out there, which Rolfers learn from and incorporate into our work. Yet I think we as Rolfers as still far ahead of other modalities in this regard. I will have to say more about this idea another time.
Some of the changes from the manipulative work will stay with a person, because the work actually makes long-term changes in the tissue. But some changes won’t last or even fully show up, unless the client intentionally chooses those new possibilities.
This new understanding for myself, about the hip joint being the primary hinge for the back and the basis for the integrity of the spine as a whole unit, gives me a way to organize the body at a new level. I see the importance of finding the support of the spine from the lower abdomen, which allows the spine to keep its natural curve and at the same time be easy, open, and flexible above the lower few vertebrae of the spine. I am sure my understanding will continue to unfold as I work more with it.
I have now seen in my clients how so many lack that key support in the lower spine and how the two parts of Rolfing can be so effective at them finding that support. I can try to work with them at the beginning of the session and they can’t really find it well, but after the hands on work, they can find it much easier. Then they can do it.
This new knowledge is an exciting adventure for me.