Dr. Ida P. Rolf – Pioneer of Structural Integration

By Libby Eason, Chair of DIRI Board of Directors, Certified Advanced Rolfer, Rolfing Instructor
February 2024

ABSTRACT To discuss the profession and the people of structural integration is to start with its pioneer, Dr. Ida P. Rolf. In this article, Libby Eason, Chair of the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute® (DIRI), takes us through Rolf’s early years, highlighting the benchmark experiences that led to her developing her ‘Recipe’ of the Ten Series and starting her school, DIRI. Eason discusses some of the people who have made significant contributions to the work, the school, and the profession as a whole.

Editor's note: This article is a reprint and was originally published in the 2022-2023 Yearbook of Structural Integration by the International Association of Structural Integrators (theIASI.net). The author has amended the text since that printing, and editorial changes have been made.

There’s little that hasn’t been written about Ida Rolf, PhD (1896-1979)1, and yet, somehow, the collective material still cannot paint a comprehensive picture of who she fully was and how she accomplished what she did (Jacobson 2011). Rolf started the profession we now call structural integration. She taught this work mainly in an oral apprenticeship tradition; students would listen to her talk and watch her work doing the ten-session series she called – the ‘Recipe’. Rolf started her school, the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute® (DIRI; formerly known as the Rolf Institute® for Structural Integration) in 1971. Graduates from her school perform Rolfing® Structural Integration, and those who complete the Rolf Movement® Integration program are Rolf Movement Practitioners. ‘Rolfing’ is the brand of structural integration taught by DIRI faculty and Rolfing Structural Integration sessions are delivered to the public by their members who are called Rolfers®. Rolfers must be in good standing with DIRI to have access to these service marks. There are twelve different recognized structural integration schools, who operate in accordance with the standards established by the International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI); therefore, there are a collection of different brands of structural integration. This article is about Dr. Rolf, her original school, and the many thought leaders who have contributed to developing the Rolfing brand of structural integration.

Ida P. Rolf, PhD (1896-1979). Photo credit David Kirk-Campbell.

Dr. Rolf’s Early Years

Rolf was born in 1896 in the Bronx, New York, where her father was a civil engineer responsible for dock building along the East Coast – literally, his vocation was understanding and implementing structure, alignment, and placement. What an amazing parallel to the path that Rolf would later blaze (Ennis 1979).

As Rolf pursued her education, she earned a PhD in biochemistry from Columbia University, which is a notable academic achievement on its own, underscored by the fact that higher education for women at the time was by no means en vogue. By age twenty-five, she was a researcher at the Rockefeller Institute (now The Rockefeller University) which, along with Johns Hopkins University, was the leading institution in the developing field of medical research.

Rolf had a probing curiosity matched with a rigorous scientific acumen. She was naturally inclined towards approaching things from the perspective of their holistic structure. A pioneering spirit, coupled with an insatiable and formidable intellect, she remained a voracious student throughout, deepening her education by studying anatomy, physiology, psychology, philosophy, religion, yoga, general semantics (Korzybski 1933), homeopathy, astrology, and the Alexander Technique.

As a young woman, Rolf suffered an accident in which she was kicked by a horse and shortly after began to suffer pneumonia-like symptoms. This would ultimately prove to be a significant event that gave early insight and influenced her own view of the body and its healing capabilities.

At a hospital in Montana, she was treated by an osteopath who was able to curtail the pneumonia symptoms and return her to health. This initial chance encounter with osteopathy’s whole body/system approach provided her evidence of what her own philosophy and work would later bear out: structure determines function. And therefore, the path to healing was not found by treating symptoms alone.

When she returned to the East Coast, she studied with an osteopath, deepening her understanding of the body’s function and structure. During this time, she met a music teacher suffering a chronic arm injury that made teaching impossible. Rolf, eager to continue evolving her burgeoning understanding of the body’s structure, suggested a trade – Rolf offered her manual manipulation to restore the pianist’s hands and arms to playing again in exchange for piano lessons for her children. The piano teacher agreed. Rolf went to work, combining yoga postures with manipulation, and managed to return the woman to complete functionality.

As ever, Rolf learned from her own experience. She respected yoga as both a method and philosophy. Particularly its emphasis that a balanced body maintains its own health and over time improves, not just the physiological system, but the spirit of the person. In short, yoga wasn’t an exercise to feel better. It was a method to become better. And in this, she began to see the foundational principles of her own work. She wasn’t just helping people feel better, her work’s aim was for people to be optimal human beings.

But her instincts told her a part of the puzzle was still missing. She kept learning.

In 1944, Rolf took a six-week course in Los Angeles, California, with Amy Cochran, DO. Cochran called her work physio-synthesis. Later, Cochran’s lineage holder, Ida Thomas, published a series of books on physio-synthesis, which are still available today.

Once people in New York heard about Rolf, some people would sit on her doorstep hoping that they too could be helped. This gave Rolf the opportunity to discover that missing piece. Rolf wrote about Grace who had been standing on her doorstep:

Grace was a completely crippled woman. When she came to me, she was about forty-five. As a child of eight or so, she had been a great tomboy. She and a boy were diving off a roof of a pavilion. Things were getting ‘higher and higher’; she went off the roof, not having told the boy that she was going. He got mad and went after her. He went faster than she and, halfway down, he knocked her against the wall of the pool. She came out of it completely crippled with her back just bent over.

Grace always had to have somebody with her. She couldn’t do such a thing as reach down and pick up her stockings off the floor or reach out and pull down a shade. So when I got home from Amy’s in California, I called up Grace and I said, Grace, we’re getting to work and we’re going to fix you up.

The day I started working with Grace was the day I really got Rolfing going. I would look at her and say, This is in the wrong place, and I’d say, “Now, Grace, does this feel better this way, or does it feel better in the other direction?” And she’d say, “That way,” so we’d organize that corner. This went on for a couple of years, and in the end Grace picked herself up and went to California all by herself. That was when the first principle of Rolfing was really born – moving the soft tissue toward the place where it really belongs (1978, 14).

By the 1940s, Rolf had in place the real foundation of her work. She was convinced, and her direct work with people had proved, given the right conditions, the human body will heal itself. And the key condition was the body’s natural alignment to, and with, gravity. A condition she termed being structurally integrated.

By this time, Rolf was traveling globally; teaching, lecturing, submitting short pieces for journals, and above everything else, working on people. In general, her methodology was met with part curiosity, mild interest, and often, outright derision.

Rolf first taught osteopaths and osteopathic students at the European School of Osteopathy at Maidstone in Kent, United Kingdom, in the 1940s. The first name she gave her body of work was “postural release.” In the 1950s, she adopted the term “postural dynamics” and wrote a book of the same name (Wood and Rolf 1958). And finally, in the 1960s, she established the term “Structural Integration.”

Within the DIRI library, we have notes from a student in one of her classes at that time, titled “Postural Dynamics, 1956.” From what the student recorded of Rolf’s lecture, it is clear that her philosophy and theory were well developed by then. Early students will recognize the ideas within the following excerpt from those notes that the ideas are still germane to the foundation of structural integration today:

We are patterns that perpetuate themselves.

Relationship is the key word to introduce the field of postural dynamics where we observe the shifts in myofascial structure. To affect the relationship of man to earth we work on the myofascial, not the body structure. The latter serves to maintain the interrelationship of myofascial and allied tissue. The body structure does not transmit weight. The bones serve to keep the structural integrity, to maintain relationships, like the bones of a man’s collar which merely keep the collar in proper shape. (Here she introduced the “block” model.)

As a technique, postural dynamics works through the medium of fascial structure. Fascial tissue alters the actual relation in space between muscle mass and bony tissue. This implies that, in this work, progression must be from the periphery to the core, since we are going to work through fascia.

Postural dynamics is not repetitive in its progression. It is not a series of treatments, is only manipulative in its early stages and, as normal physiological movement is reestablished thereby, it is self-perpetuating. Manipulation only permits this to happen. It is a sequence, one hour of processing following another, each one surfacing a deeper level of resistance as imbalances in deeper levels of musculature become apparent.

While osteopaths and chiropractors were the quickest to show interest, they saw Rolf’s work as simply an additional technique with which they could supplement their own practice. This was greatly disappointing to her and counter to her view that structural integration was its own complete system with a specific aim and point of view:

Rolfing is not primarily a psychotherapeutic approach to the problems of humans, but the effect it has had on the human psyche has been so noteworthy that many people insist on so regarding it. Rolfing is an approach to the personality through the myofascial collagen components of the physical body. It integrates and balances the so-called “other bodies” of man [sic], meta-physically described as astral and etheric, now more modernly designated as the psychological, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. The amazing psychological changes that appeared in Rolfed [sic] individuals were completely unexpected. They inevitably suggest that behavior on any level reflects directly the physical energy level of the initiating physical structure. The psychological effect is far greater than one would expect to induce in the brief encounter of ten hours of work, which is the normal cycle for Rolfing integration.

This effect can be understood if we see it as the emergence of a different behavior pattern resulting from the very much greater competence of physical myofascial organization. Rolfing postulates on the basis of observation that a human is basically an energy field operating in the greater energy of the earth [sic]; particularly significant is that the energy known as the gravitational field. As such, the individual’s smaller field can be enhanced or depleted in accordance with the spatial relations of the two fields. It would seem appropriate, at this point in time, to state that following Rolfing a man’s greater awareness suggests to him that his energy has been increased. In fact, Rolfing has simply freed his energy, made it more available. His greater structural competence makes it possible to utilize his energy more efficiently (Rolf 1978, 26-27).

In those early days of structural integration, unfortunately, few were able to comprehend or appreciate the breadth of Rolf’s approach. Her work was met with lukewarm, passing interest. She was ahead of her time, and it seemed improbable that the culture could ever move fast enough to adopt what otherwise seemed too radical an approach to healing.

Once the 1960s were underway, ideas were not only changing, they were being discarded, reshaped, and in some cases, plain abandoned. There was a new spirit of inquiry and a real thirst for evolving beyond ideas and attitudes formed by the rigid, mechanistic approaches of the past. It seemed Dr. Rolf and her work’s time had finally arrived.

Before Rolf Had Her School

In 1967, Rolf was invited to Esalen Institute® in Big Sur, California, right at the height of the human potential movement.2 She taught the first few public training programs there, which included some of the first practitioners that she later chose to teach Rolfing Structural Integration – Peter Melchior (1931-2005), Emmett Hutchins (1934-2016), Jan H. Sultan, Michael Salveson, and Jim Asher. It was the late 1960s, and the field of somatics was just emerging from disciplines dissatisfied with the status quo, including psychologists such as Dr. Fritz Perls (1893-1970), a German-born psychiatrist, the father of Gestalt therapy, and the man who initiated a sea change in the field of psychotherapy.

Perls and Rolf met at Esalen and Rolf worked on Perls. During one session, he relived an experience from a time he had been anesthetized. When he came out of that experience, all who were present, including him, were stunned at the depth and breadth of the change that had occurred. He reportedly sat up from that session and declared that everyone in therapy should have Rolfing Structural Integration, that it would be integral to change the body, not just the mind. Rolfing shot out through the psychotherapy profession almost immediately. From that moment forward, Dr. Rolf, structural integration, and the human potential movement were bonded together.

Psychotherapists and other holistic practitioners experienced how improvements in the body frequently translated to improvements in the psyche – this was exactly the necessary understanding of the mind-body connection Rolf had been emphasizing all along. A radical cultural shift was occurring, and new paths of understanding and exploration were emerging, creating a rich soil into which structural integration could take firm root.

The Work

“When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself” (Rolf 1978, 36).

The nature of structural integration is holistic, requiring a three-dimensional understanding of structure and function. The way that Rolf taught was centered on the power of inquiry – she had a tremendous gift for understanding essential principles and then organizing them into a practical methodology. She taught her students to approach each client with fresh eyes and adamantly eschewed any kind of rote or cookie-cutter approach. In Rolf’s style of teaching, it was more important to frame the questions skillfully than it was to look for (or lock onto) answers. To successfully pass her ideas on to future generations of practitioners, it was essential that students learned how to think properly. This tradition is still maintained at the DIRI.

As Rolf expressed it, there is a losing war with gravity (1989). People do not realize the fatigue they feel is from moving through the gravitational field with segments of their body in a random alignment, rather than stacked in a more appropriate relationship to each other. When the body is appropriately organized, it becomes more stable while simultaneously becoming more adaptable. The interplay of these two elements is like the tuning of a guitar string – too tight – and it will not produce a pleasing sound, while – too loose – it will be discordant. Our structures need a balance of tone and flexibility, ground, and space, tissue is meant to be firm and yielding. The tension of opposites, spannung (span) was the German term Rolf would use. When this positive alignment of the body to gravity is realized, then the whole person – mind and body – works in concert and in health.

Rolf’s original theory for the changes she observed involved an understanding of fascia. She saw it as a colloid, a substance that could change from a more gelatinous (gel) state to a more fluid-like solution (sol). Hence, her idea was a gel to sol and back to gel process wouldexplain the mechanism through which tissue changes were evoked. That a change occurs through the Rolfing process cannot be disputed, though the mechanisms, to date, have still not been fully identified and described. Though heat and pressure are insufficient to explain the changes, neurological and other factors have been shown to play a part in producing a change in fascial tension, texture, and span (Stecco and Schleip 2016).

Another of Rolf’s observations, and the basis for the changes, is that the body has an innate capacity to adapt to any change. Any injury, repetitive motion or stress, even chronic psycho-social-emotional states, can cause the adoption of particular postures and movement patterns that then propagate throughout the structure. A person is stable in such an adaptive arrangement. However, the adaptation is not ideal past the point that it does keep the person in motion, which is a primal survival need. Fortunately, the same factors that allow adaptation in recovery from injuries also allow adaptation to the inducement of positive changes. This is because the body, as a dynamic system, distributes all changes and stresses through a person’s entire body. Change is always propagated, regardless of how the change is introduced into the system.

One of Rolf’s early students and Advanced Instructors, Jan H. Sultan, recalls, “What Dr. Rolf used to say is ‘Look, this is education below the mind’. This is education in the domain of sensation. So, we’re not talking at people to tell them how to feel or how to move. Rather, we’re touching down into them and feeling the strain patterns, leaning into those strain patterns until the body begins to repattern. That’s the point. And if you only work on a part, you don’t get that. Somebody comes in with a bad knee, and you just work on the knee, you don’t get the Rolfing effect” (personal communication).

To ensure that clients truly benefited from the work, Rolf instituted a standardized Ten Series process, fondly referred to as ‘the Recipe’, the goal of which is to systematically balance and optimize both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of the entire body over the course of ten sessions. The Ten Series was understood to be a template that should always be followed, exactly as taught until the practitioner could master the understanding of structural elements, and use the principles that were later articulated by Jan H. Sultan and Jeffrey Maitland, PhD (Maitland and Sultan 1992; Sultan and Hack 2021). By following the Recipe, Rolf’s fifty years of study, research, and practice were encapsulated in the ten-session series, learned by her students, and then applied with the client.

One of her original students, Caroline Widmer, PhD (1937-2019), recalled how Rolf said in one class, “Always do it this way [whatever “it” was], not that way.” While in another class, Rolf might seem to reverse her previous instruction, suggesting they, “always do it that way, not this way.” While she appeared to contradict herself over time, her teaching evolved with her understanding, and she was fearless about integrating those changes into her teaching.

It was also important to Rolf that students engage wholeheartedly and commit to the vision, practice, and long-term understanding of Rolfing Structural Integration – to understand the entirety – not just the parts. She advocated her students practice the work for five years so they would understand the system before they started studying other types of work. She felt if other methodologies were added too soon, they would interfere with understanding structural integration as a holistic paradigm.

To that end, Rolfing Structural Integration is taught, in part, as a self-teaching tool. It is in the practice that one learns to understand and apply the Principles of Intervention of the work to very different kinds of structures (Sultan and Hack 2021). Doing the work, studying anatomy, physiology, movement, and function, deepens and broadens the expertise and understanding of the practitioner. And it shifts the practitioner’s focus into the inquiry of what produces order throughout the system when applying the ten-session Rolfing series as a template, but not as a one-size-fits-all recipe.

From Michael Salveson, Advanced Rolfing Instructor, “There is an inherent structure in the body. You can never, ever as a Rolfer get away from the ten-session series. You can never leave the Recipe because the Recipe is based on the actual inherent organization and structure of the organism. Ida didn’t make it up. She saw it. You’re always going to adapt that Recipe to the clients you have underneath your hands. The individual we are touching is going to determine a lot about how readily they change. . . you discover at what depth the client’s adaptive mechanisms light up” (personal communication).

Dr. Ida Rolf Institute (DIRI)

As already mentioned, DIRI was founded by Rolf in 1971; she did so as a non-profit, 501(c)3 educational institution. DIRI continues to maintain its non-profit status, and besides being the original structural integration school, it is also the only school that can certify Rolfers and Rolf Movement Practitioners. Rolfing as a service mark has come to be known in the culture and respected for the high standards, skills, and integrity of its practitioners.

Besides being the birthplace of the profession of structural integration training, the practice of Rolfing work is developed and perpetuated through the skills, depth, breadth, and longevity of our faculty, curriculum, and worldwide community of members and schools.

Regional International Organizations (RIOs)

DIRI has regional international organizations (RIOs) that have been established in Brazil (Associação Brasileira de Rolfing, ABR), Canada (Rolfing Association of Canada, RAC), Europe (European Rolfing Association, ERA), and Japan (Japanese Rolfing Association, JRA).3 These groups manage their local Rolfing membership affairs and provide a “home base” for faculty and Rolfers. Altogether, the international Rolfing community is 2,500 strong with more than forty instructors, making it the largest segment of the structural integration community. There is an enormous depth and breadth of knowledge and experience in this group of faculty and practitioners. Having this large collective intelligence to draw on allows the faculty as a group to develop and deepen the work continuously and the student’s learning experience.

Current DIRI Developments in Structural Integration

As Rolf instructed, at DIRI, we teach the ten-session series. But not by itself. Learning to do a series does not teach you the organizing principles that you can use to construct interventions that are the most useful for the client’s body. In the DIRI curriculum, we teach principles of intervention, models of seeing, taxonomies, and qualities of touch.

This, and other modes of seeing and treating clients, are used to evoke understanding that will enable our students to think through new challenges that their future clients will present. We also teach an order of interventions that promotes organization and integration, like mobility precedes differentiation, differentiation precedes integration, appendicular precedes axial, three functioning dimensions precedes working with rotations, and sleeve organization precedes core organization. These add to the ability to prioritize and order the manual and movement interventions that will be appropriate for the client and build toward greater integration and holism.

Again, the main point is to learn how to think about what is being done in each session, what the Ten Series is accomplishing as a whole, and how to apply this knowledge and skill with every individual client throughout each session within their Ten Series. Our interventions are based on the ability to make distinctions about what layer is being addressed, how contact is approached and made, how the effects of the work are assessed (discretely with each touch and the cumulative effect of the whole session), and the closure that brings integration of all the work that had been done. When the practitioner has all of this in their mind, there is much more power to evoke organization in their hands, and they accomplish the integration of the Rolfing Structural Integration process. The Recipe teaches the practitioner how to evoke these higher levels of structural and functional organization for the client.

There has been a tremendous amount of discussion, exploration, and debate about this work and its various strategies since Rolf’s death in 1979. Those early students selected by Rolf to become her faculty – Peter Melchior, Emmett Hutchins, Jan H. Sultan, Michael Salveson, and Jim Asher – taught and grew the school together through the 1980s. Maitland joined the conversation and contributed significantly to the pedagogy of Rolfing Structural Integration (Maitland 1991, Maitland 1993, Maitland and Sultan 1992). [This is not an exhaustive list of the essential Rolfing Instructors or contributors to the work in the 1980s.]

The ERA and ABR faculty have been full partners in the development of the work and bringing unique perspectives from multiple cultures that have enriched the Rolfing legacy, including Rolfer and fascia researcher Robert Schleip, PhD of Germany and Rolfer and clinical psychologist Pedro Prado, PhD, of Brazil. The Rolfing think tank has been firmly established for decades and continues to thrive and carry the work forward.

The Movement Evolution

Rolf Movement Practitioners help clients develop the capacity to bring life back into their experience of themselves. Certainly, structural integration’s manual therapy work can seemingly render miracles, but the work of Rolf Movement helps a person embody the change from the manual interventions. Especially when a person is working to recover capacity that has gone missing after an injury, movement education can create new, more efficient structural and movement patterns.

The Rolf Movement curriculum development began with Judith Aston [founder of Aston Kinetics™] in the 1970s at Rolf’s request, and thereafter, more content was created by Gael Rosewood, Heather Starsong, Janie French (1939-2001), Annie Dugan, Vivan Jaye, Jane Harrington, and Mary Bond.

In the 1990s, French Rolfer Hubert Godard brought new ideas to DIRI’s faculty about the nature of perception and coordination of the human structure (Frank 1995). This opened many doors to a deeper understanding and practice. Many DIRI faculty members of the United States, Europe, Brazil, and Japan have studied, developed, and taught these ideas as they are now included in the Rolf Movement curriculum.4

DIRI Today

The original faculty members who were trained directly by Rolf in the 1970s, and those who have come after, have articulated the philosophy, practice, and teaching of Rolf’s vision. DIRI also continues to reach for higher standards as a school. With the help of Executive Director and Chief Academic Officer Christina Howe, DIRI faculty have developed rubrics, standards, and curricula commensurate with institutes of higher education.

These processes ensure that all faculty are teaching comprehensively and conveying the curriculums as articulated in the rubrics and standards. An assessment is conducted at the end of each basic Rolfing training, where students demonstrate what they have learned before being granted their certificate of completion as a Rolfer. For those few who do not pass the assessment, learning opportunities are provided, and the assessment can be retaken.

DIRI holds state and national accreditations as a school and is recognized by the United States Department of Education, which enables students to access federal student loans. The Department of Veterans Affairs also offers funding to veterans who wish to take the Rolfing training. This makes the training more accessible for more people. DIRI is committed to its students, faculty, staff, and members to provide education and membership services that value diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for all. They have developed standards that express these values and are woven throughout the curricula and services.

DIRI has been the starting place for many who have benefited the world through their practices. There are now twelve structural integration training programs recognized by the International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI). Many of those school’s founders can trace their roots to DIRI, and some of them studied directly with Rolf. The first person to form a separate school was Joseph Heller. In 1979, he started what is now called Hellerwork® International (see page 44). Michael Salveson and Jan H. Sultan are still advanced faculty with DIRI. Emmett Hutchins and Peter Melchior founded the Guild for Structural Integration in 1989. Since both have now passed away, the Guild had a new home in Salt Lake City, Utah, under the direction of Amber Burnham Noel and Elisa Noel. In June 2023, the Guild closed their school, and members in good standing were offered a path to membership with DIRI (see page 90). Tom Myers, author and founder of Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI), developed the early iterations of anatomy education for DIRI before leaving and developing his ATSI training program.  

In Conclusion

Rolf was a pioneer. She was a biochemistry professor in New York in the 1920s. When she was lecturing and publishing about postural release in the 1950s, she was talking about the fascial web and its organization in gravity as the starting place for an entire profession. She was ahead of her time, truly a revolutionary. Rolf converged at Esalen in such a potent moment, hanging out her ‘Rolfing’ shingle for the people immersed in the human potential movement to bring transformation into their tissue, which must have been so instructive for everyone involved. By doing Rolf’s Ten Series for years, practitioners learn the profound insight she had about the order of the body’s organization in gravity. And that we can assist people in having more ease and lightness in their bodies, and in their being. Nowadays, I spend my days championing DIRI as the Chair of the Board of Directors, as well as teaching this work to future generations; it is a rich faculty and administration to work with as we navigate the new challenges of
the 2020s.


1. The Dr. Ida Rolf Institute® (DIRI), formerly known as the Rolf Institute® for Structural Integration (RISI), is Rolf’s original school that she founded in 1971. This journal is Rolf’s journal, which she started in 1969. DIRI envisions a world in which optimizing an individual’s structure and function in the gravitational field is an integral part of health and well-being – this is the mission that Rolf left her legacy holders and people trained in her lineage of manual and movement therapy (2023). Both the published writings by Rolf and books about Rolf are available at DIRI’s online store, visit https://mms.rolf.org/members/store.php?orgcode=ROLF. This journal, which has had various titles over its fifty-plus years of publication, has also featured articles about Rolf. We have published commemorative speeches at the First Annual Fascia Research Congress by her sons Alan Demmerle (2007a) and Richard Demmerle (2007b) about her life and work. Our March and June 2009 issues of Structural
had a collection of articles by people
who spent time with Rolf (Hoff 2009a, Hoff 2009b).

2. The human potential movement of the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond focused on helping people achieve their full potential by taking an individual through various different therapeutic encounters with a variety of modalities and disciplines. So that they may live a full life aware of the “here and now” (Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology 2023).

3. Contact information for the RIOs available at https://www.rolf.org/international.php.

4. A full list of the International Rolf Movement® Instructors, Rolfing SI Instructors, and Advanced Rolfing Instructors can be found at https://www.rolf.org/faculty_2.php.

Libby Eason is the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute® (DIRI) Board of Directors Chair, a Certified Advanced Rolfer®, and a Rolfing® Instructor. For ten years, Eason served on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Structural Integrators® (IASI) as law and legislation chair and two and a half years as Board President. She has served as President of the Ida P. Rolf Research Foundation since March 2012 and was instrumental in producing the Fascia Research Congress in 2015 and 2018. Eason first experienced the transformative effects of Rolfing Structural Integration in 1975. She trained as a massage therapist in 1986. In March 1992, Eason graduated from the then Rolf Institute® (now DIRI), completed her Rolf Movement® certification in 1994, and Advanced Training in 1997. She became an assistant instructor in 1998 and lead instructor and faculty member in 2005. Eason also graduated from the Feldenkrais Training of Baltimore in 2016 and maintains a full-time Rolfing Structural Integration and movement practice in Atlanta, Georgia.


Demmerle, Alan. 2007a. A brief talk about Ida Rolf. Structural Integration. 35(4):5-6.

Demmerle, Richard. 2007b. Memories of an exceptional pioneer. Structural Integration 35(40):7-8.

Dr. Ida Rolf Institute. 2023. “History of Rolfing”. Available from https://rolf.org/history.php.

Ennis, Thomas W. March 21, 1979.Ida P. Rolf, Developer of ‘Rolfing’. The New York Times. Section D, page 21. Available from https://www.nytimes.com/1979/03/21/archives/ida-p-rolf-developer-of-rolfing-husband-was-a-contractor-html.

Frank, Kevin. 1995. Tonic function: A gravity response model for Rolfing structural and movement integration. Rolf Lines 13(1):12-20.

Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. 2023. Human potential movement. Available from https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/human-potential-movement-0

Hoff, Anne (Ed.) 2009a. Structural Integration: The Journal of the Rolf Institute®. Volume 37, number 1.

Hoff, Anne. (Ed.) 2009b. Structural Integration: The Journal of the Rolf Institute®. Volume 37, number 2.

Jacobson, Eric. 2011. Structural Integration: Origins and development. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 17(9):755-780.

Korzybski, Alfred. 1933. Selections from science and sanity: An introduction to non-Aristotelian systems and general semantics. University of Michigan: International Non-Aristotelian Library Publishing Company.

Maitland, Jeffrey. 1991. The Palintonic lines of Rolfing. Rolf Lines 19(1):1-2, 43-49.

___. 1993. Das boot. Rolf Lines 21(2):1-7.

Maitland, Jeffrey, and Jan H. Sultan. 1992. Definition and principles of Rolfing. Rolf Lines 20(2):16-20.  

Stecco, Carla, and Robert Schleip. 2016. A fascia and the fascial system. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 20:139-140.

Sultan, Jan H. and Lina Amy Hack. 2021. The Rolfing® SI principles of intervention: An integrated concept. Structure, Function, Integration 49(3): 84-88.

Rolf, Ida P. 1978. Ida Rolf talks about Rolfing and physical reality. (Ed. Rosemary Feitis). Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Rolf, Ida P. 1989. Rolfing: Reestablishing the natural alignment and structural integration of the human body for vitality and well-being. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.

Wood, Denis Lawson and Ida P. Rolf. 1958. Psycho-logics and posture: Postural dynamics of Dr. Ida P. Rolf, and psychology of personal constructs of Dr. George A. Kelly considered as related and complementary non-elementalistic methods. United Kingdom: Ashingdon.


Ida Rolf; the Recipe; structural integration; structural integration history; International Association of Structural Integrators; structural integration training; Rolfing educatoin; wholism; postural dynamics; Esalen Institute; human potential movement; Peter Melchior; Emmett Hutchins; Guild for Structural Integration; Jan Sultan; Michael Salveson; Jim Asher; Fritz Perls; gravity; Dr. Ida Rolf Institute; Jeffrey Maitland; Rolf Movement; Joseph Heller; Hellerwork. ■

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November 2023 / Vol. 51, No. 3
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