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Yoga and Rolfing share a common goal: to improve structure, balance, flexibility and mobility. Yoga has played an important part in Dr. Ida Rolf’s development of our understanding of Structural Integration.
Before she started practicing Rolfing, Dr Rolf used yoga to address back problems related to a scoliosis. In the 1930's, at a time when yoga was seen as unusual with good teachers hard to find, Dr Rolf studied yoga with Pierre Bernard, a yoga teacher in Nyack, N.Y.. Her yoga practice, combined with her study of osteopathy and homeopathy contributed to the development of Rolfing Structural Integration.
Her vision of Rolfing aligned with the goals of yoga, seeking to develop »…a physical system that enriches the student's body, mind and spiritual well being through an understanding of structural balance.«
»Dr. Rolf always investigated what was new and was never afraid to take what she learned and use it,« says Rosemarie Feitus, Certified Rolfer, in the introduction to her book, Ida Rolf Talks: About Rolfing and Physical Reality. »In those years of practicing and discussing the principles of yoga, (Dr. Rolf) was establishing the basis of her future work; that bodies need to lengthen and be balanced, and that a balanced body will give rise to a better human being. Slowly she realized that the asanas did not achieve length and separation of the joints and that in too many cases there was actual contraction of the joint surfaces. Something else was needed.« Rolfing later emerged from this insight.
Rolfing works primarily in two ways, through hands-on manipulation and movement education. This combination physically changes the body's structure and energetically improves movement and function. Rolfing reaches where yoga sometimes can’t get to, and yoga can support these changes by building upon them with further awareness, while strengthening your body efficiently.
Mattheus Juan Els
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How can Rolfing help increase your enjoyment of cycling?
First off, believe it or not, cycling is not just done with the legs!
The whole body is invovlved. Most of the energy expended is used by the muscle groups (In this case the back, pelvis and arms) than by the legs themselves which generate the movement.
A cycling action which is smooth, and flows through the whole body will be more efficient than one which isolates the legs leaving the rest of the body stiff and inflexible. This doesn't mean that you have to climb out of the saddle to have efficient movement, it means that a light swinging movement through the back is ideal to keep the back flexible and the breathing easier.
This generally means using a gear which is relativly easy, but is spun at a higher rate. The moment produced will be more sustainble and have the added benefit that the bike is easy to control.
Rolfing interventions increases the awareness of how power is generated within the body, and helps identify areas which do not transmit movement and prevent the usual knee or lower back problems often associated with cycling.
Rolfing analysis of movement patterns ensure that the ankle, knee and hip joints are tracking evenly and above each other. The shoulders remain relaxed and the breathing easy. Manipulation and direct pressure during Rolfing to release built up strain in the joints and limbs ensures that the body remains untroubled by injury.
A simple test for yourself, is to check if there are areas of the body which are overheating or conversely get cold after extended periods on the bike.
In general, the more relaxed you are on the bike, the easier breathing is, and the more effortless the movement is, the more enjoyment you will get out of your cycling.
Rolfing can ensure that your cycling remains an enjoyable experience, minimising the risk of injury and helps you access your full potential in your sport.
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The static and motionless work at a desk leads often to a very specific pattern in the human body. Looking at legs and arms, there is a significant shortness at the back side of the legs and also at the inner line of the arms, due to the sitting position. Sometimes the lumbar spine sinks back and the belly collapses.
If one spends a few hours in this position, the pattern of shortness stays maifested in your body, even when you get up. After weeks this pattern of shortness leads to a serious imbalance, that mostly can't be prevented by sports.
During the Rolfing process, within the usual series of 10 sessions, the connective tissue becomes more elastic and has more freedom of movement. Your body is supported to an effortless upright sitting and standing position. The new awareness of your own body, experienced during these sessions, encourages more mobility, and change of your body position – which prevents a return to an old, uncomfortable pattern.