Books by Noah:

Kindle editions, too.

Getting Better at Getting People Better

Freeing Emotions and Energy Through Myofascial Release

Meet Your Body


Rolfing, or Structural Integration, was developed by Ida P. Rolf, PhD over many years of observation and study of various health techniques. Dr. Rolf, a biochemist, had problems with arthritis in her own body and decided she needed to deal with it and overcome it. Her research led her to look closely at chiropractic, nutrition, osteopathy, reflexology, yoga, and many other avenues. She gleaned perhaps her largest nugget from Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, founder of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Still was the first person to see the tremendous importance of the connective tissue network, the fascia. He believed that much of what goes wrong in the human body is anchored in this fascial network, and that releasing restrictions in the fascia will help restore health to the body. Any trauma a body has endured — physical, emotional, mental, chemical — will be anchored in the tissue unless and until that trauma has been identified and released.

Using the principles she had discovered, Dr. Rolf began working first on her own body, then on family and friends. Eventually she was brought to the attention of Fritz Perls, known by many as the father of Gestalt Therapy. At his invitation she came to Esalen Institute in California and worked with many of the pioneers in the human potential movement, teaching many, performing her Structural Integration work on most, who dubbed her work "Rolfing" — a term she never appreciated.

Realizing that it would be hard to teach her philosophy effectively without a template, Dr. Rolf created a ten session series so that any practitioner would have a guidebook of proven techniques. It was always less her intention to fix symptoms in a client's body, and more to take that body more appropriately upward into gravity. She believed that if we could assist a body to have less resistance to gravity, then the body would heal itself.

Her ten series consists of three layers: superficial or sleeve, then deep line or core, and finally integrative work. A traditional series begins with a focus on allowing a deep cleansing breath through the body in session one. Generally the client feels energized and freed up from the weight of the world. Session two is devoted to freeing ankle and toe hinges, which in turn opens the deep line all the way through the body. Number three focuses on releasing the twelfth rib from the hipbone and creating a longer vertical side line of the body. These three sessions are the sleeve hours. Next comes deep line: session four works to release the inside of the legs, thighs, and the pelvic floor from the lower end, followed by session five working on the muscles of the stomach: rectus abdominus and especially psoas which lies on the front of the spine and travels across the pubic region all the way to the inside of the leg. Number six frees the backs of the leg, thigh, and the deep back muscles before focusing on freeing the tailbone and deep rotators of the hips. Session seven concentrates on the neck, shoulders and head. Seven ends the deep work, and when done well, begins the integrative process continued through 8, 9, and 10. Usually the practitioner chooses to focus on either upper or lower girdle in eight with the intention of getting the legs, or arms, to operate from a lumbodorsal hinge somewhere in the middle of the body. Nine has the same goal for the other girdle, and ten asks the questions "What else?" and  "What will look more like integration in this body?"

People come to Rolfing for as many reasons as there are people, but often a chronic or acute pain situation, work and/or postural challenges, or just the desire to be more open and receptive to good in their lives leads people to consider this bodywork. The ten series is often scheduled on a weekly or every-other-week basis. Generally clients feel energized after most sessions — occasionally they will feel mildly flu-like when an area has been released.  In terms of working out or working hard after a session, Noah advises that going slowly and paying attention to the body and its function is the best guage after work.

There are two certifying bodies for the traditional ten series recipe: The Rolf Institute and the Guild for Structural Integration. Both are headquarted in Boulder, CO. These trainings require two segments of training after fulfillment of pre-requisite courses, and require advanced training to be fulfilled from 3-7 years after basic certification. Practitioners of Structural Integration are located worldwide, and the organizations will be glad to provide a directory if you are looking for a particular area of the world.


The Rolf Institute
Guild for Structural Integration

Relief with Rolfing

Who practices this technique?

Noah Karrasch
CORE Bodywork Practitioners Directory