Rolfing® Success Stories

Page 1

RolfingÂŽ Stories | 1



European Rolfing® Association e.V. Magazine

Florian Thomas

According to Albert Einstein, the only source of knowledge is experience.


What a better way to spread our knowledge of Rolfing ® than to share this experience in the form of a collection of interviews with both Rolfers ® and their clients. In this fascinating series of interviews conducted with Certified Rolfers ® and Advanced Certified Rolfers ® Claudia Kroczek, Aman Andres Kohlbach, Begona Fontana Urriza, Marina Blandini, Henrike Rietz-Leiber, Bert Schmitz and Florian Thomas and some of their clients, we are presented with intriguing insights into their own initial encounters with Rolfing ®, their inspiration to study the techniques and applications, meeting Ida Rolf in person, and most importantly, the impact their treatment has had on their clients.

Professional Opera Singer Certified Rolfer™

Bert Schmitz

Msc Psychology Certified Advanced Rolfer™


Henrike Rietz-Leiber Certified Rolfer™


Marina Blandini

Certified Advanced Rolf Movement™ Practitioner


The author, media relations specialist Charlotte Fraser, succeeds in capturing the vast range of initiators and catalysts which inspired the interviewees to undergo the rigorous training on their path to becoming a Certified Rolfer® and opens up the spectrum of treatment successes which can be achieved when all aspects of Rolfing ® come together. Charlotte’s writing style makes for easy and captivating reading. We hope you enjoy this sharing of experience!

Begoña Fontana Urriza Certified Rolfer™


Aman Andres Kohlbach Certified Rolfer™, Naturopath


Claudia Kroczek

Certified Rolfer™, Rolf Movement® Practitioner


_________ Origins of the Rolfing® Logo p.17

Charlotte Fraser Editor’s Profile


European Rolfing® Association.

European Rolfing® Association e.V. Saarstraße 5, 80797, Munich (DE) | Telephone: + 49 (0)89 - 54370940 Fax: + 49 (0)89 - 54370942

Cover Graphic: Andrea Scirè Media Production: Royal Academy

Florian Thomas

Professional Opera Singer, Certified Rolfer™ 26/07/2017 by Charlotte Fraser

Rolfing® was so profoundly “life-changing” for Professional Opera Singer Florian Thomas, he decided to move to the UK with his wife, become freelance and to train part-time to become a Certified Rolfer®. The European Rolfing® Association invite me to meet Thomas and investigate further.

Sitting in the corner of the Rail House Café in central London, I am taken by surprise as a tall, slender, elegant man strides towards me. I initially think that he has mistaken me for someone else, but Florian Thomas introduces himself and smiles as I confess, somewhat abashed, that I was expecting – how should I say it – an altogether larger-built gentleman. “Rolfing® enabled me to reinvent myself”, Thomas says. “I lost 45 kilos over three years doing intermittent fasting but that’s a whole other story!” What happened? I ask. “My father had a stroke six years ago at the age of 55. I am 38 now but I knew back then, that with our family history of heart attacks and strokes, I would be next in line. I decided to do something about it and, in fact, my wife Caitlin – she is a very talented opera singer – has always been very slim and health-conscious. Caitlin is Australian and they do have a healthier approach to life I think! In any case, my weight loss leads us to why I ended up trying Rolfing®!” Why did you try Rolfing®? “I had lost all this weight but found that my posture was stuck in a certain position, as though I was still carrying the old weight. I became suddenly more aware of my hunched back, the scoliosis and that the lower back pain hadn’t gone away. I also felt stuck and inflexible in other aspects of life. Around the same time, my wife who is also a professional opera singer showed me a documentary on fascia with a part about Rolfing in it: “Quarks & Co: Geheimnisvolle FaszienNeues vom Ruecken”.

Did you try other therapies before Rolfing®? “Yes, I saw an osteopath for 15 years but I found Rolfing® to be so much more powerful. I have also tried the Feldenkrais Method®, Training Therapy, lifting weights in a medical gym, and so on. However, ten sessions of Rolfing®, the complete Ten Series, did more for me than all fifteen years of Osteopathy, or indeed, any other therapy. Nothing has had the same beneficial effect as Rolfing®. For me it has been totally life-changing.” How did Rolfing®help you? “Rolfing® gave me greater balance and more ease of movement. My body feels now totally at ease. It is incredible what happens if your brain isn’t distracted, if energy and concentration isn’t taken up in just maintaining what should be a simple posture. If the body is stressed, one’s mind is that much more anxious and preoccupied.

I feel more creative now and the balance and alignment through Rolfing® has enabled me to bring more colours into my voice. I sing more efficiently now, it takes up a lot less energy. I feel happy walking on stage, it feels nice and easy. I am calmer and more confident. I am more aware of what’s going on in my body and am consequently more aware also of my peripheral surroundings, of my place and physical presence on the stage. I am more grounded altogether.” Did you feel the benefits of Rolfing® immediately or did you have to wait for a few sessions to feel any effect? “I felt the benefits after even the first session, for me it was immediate. I could also feel the effect of Rolfing® in between my treatment sessions.” What made you move to England? “I might never have left my job if I hadn’t done The Ten Series. I am Austrian and was with the Vienna State Opera for ten years. I was in a very safe and

comfortable position with a solid contract and salary. Being a freelance opera singer now is, of course, much less certain. However, Rolfing® is very grounding and working with gravity brings you into closer contact with the ground. I felt I was suddenly open for a change, a complete change. My wife and I already had an apartment in Oxford and there were also family and work reasons on my wife’s side that encouraged us to try our move. Oxford is now our home and we teach from there, but we also spend a lot of time working in London.” Did Rolfing® present any surprises? Oh yes! The total surprise was to know what it felt like to have so much freedom in my body. What it is like to move around with such ease, effortlessly. After Session 7 of the Ten Series where the Rolfer™works on your cranium, I actually walked around feeling strangely arrogant. Working on my jaw was also very powerful. That work revealed to me what it feels like to be free to hold my head up high, confidently and comfortably!’ Who is your Rolfer™? “I saw Harvey Burns when I was living in Vienna. He is British actually, and a Certified Advanced Rolfer™ and Rolfing® Instructor. Harvey took me through the ‘Ten Series’. Now, here in the UK, our Rolfer™is Naomi Wynter-Vincent whom I see every so often.“

to build resilience both mentally and physically. Singers tend not to talk about any injury as it can be so damaging to their career, and certainly you can sing for a long time ‘on the edge’ so sometimes, it only takes something to flip the system over to effect serious and possibly long-term damage. I know too many singers who have had to sadly retire early as their body deteriorated before its time. Prevention is better than cure. I think singing teachers in the UK and the US generally have embraced a more physiological approach. I experienced that Rolfing® enables you to fine-tune your whole body which for singers is the instrument. I see it as being very compatible and complementary with modern vocal pedagogy. Receiving Rolfing® has changed me. The effects it had on me as a singer and as a human being are substantial. I am very much looking forward to learning to Rolf®, to pass it on as a practitioner through my hands. I am also very grateful to have reached a new place as a performer where my voice is supported by grounded and balanced physicality.” -------More information on Florian Thomas on: Photo courtesy of Robert Catto, Florian Thomas is pictured.

How often did you see your Rolfer™during the initial Ten Series? “Harvey would judge how much Rolfing® was required. Sometimes it was once a week, sometimes it was every three weeks, and so on. Harvey had a very intuitive approach, I saw him whenever he felt the timing was right.” You are now training to be a Certified Rolfer™yourself? “Yes. I want to introduce Rolfing to musicians, and to integrate it with my own vocal teaching. I have already completed ‘The Spectrum’, the preliminary Rolfing training, and I will qualify as a Certified Rolfer™in April 2018. I still work as a professional opera singer, however I am now freelance, and together my wife and I, also run Oxford Voice Coaching (teaching adults in Oxford and London). I am also a Tomatis® listening trainer.” What does Rolfing® bring to Music and the Performance Arts? “Rolfing® is holistic and I consider music to be a holistic challenge. Take the example of Andy Murray crashing out of Queen’s last week; Andy was obviously disappointed and said he would have to go back and discuss his performance with his team. A professional sportsperson, is able to draw on a dedicated qualified back-up team, to call on physiological and psychological support channels. Singers and performers don’t generally have such a team, to support them in getting over what might be a traumatic performance, either emotionally or physically. Perhaps the performance resulted in a poor review, or in an injury resulting from a collision or bad fall on stage. Performance is highly physical and singing is like a sport. You really can’t separate the creative artist from the physical artist. I feel there should be far more consideration of the latter. In my view, a great many singers could benefit from being Rolfed®. Opera singers and performers need to develop a strong personality,

Rolfing® Stories | 5

Bert Schmitz

Msc Psychology, Certified Advanced Rolfer™ 12/09/2017 by Charlotte Fraser

We do workshops, and I’ve been thinking about the name for one of our new courses. I like ‘Echoes from your Core.’” Says Schmitz. “You see, that’s what Rolfing® gives you. You may not immediately get into it but you do suddenly get the echo of something deeper. Maybe you are just happy with the echo but a lot of people want to explore deeper and are motivated to find out where the echo is coming from. He explains

I am speaking to Bert Schmitz about his work as a Certified Advanced Rolfer™. Schmitz is also a Clinical Psychologist, registered Psychotherapist, and MBSR/MBCT instructor. He and his wife, Bernadette van Boxel, also a Certified Rolfer™, run ‘Bodymindfulness’ which offers individual sessions, workshops and courses, to help clients understand their body, mind and energy in a holistic, non-dual way. After living in Florence, Italy, for over 32 years, Schmitz is now based in Roermond in the Netherlands.

said to his students, who were all psychologists, ‘look, you have got to see this woman, Dr Rolf’. The psychologists really embraced her and wanted to learn from her. Rolfing® made me very happy, it was an incredible experience and Rolfing® combined with the whole therapeutic, new approach was for me like a rebirth. I went on to train in Rolfing in France and Germany, and qualified in 1982. Did you meet Ida Rolf?

What made you train to be a Rolfer™? I ask. It was after I had finished my Psychology studies and Masters in Amsterdam. I wasn’t very happy with my academic training as it hadn’t provided all the answers. So I went to California in 1975 and studied at the Esalen Institute. At that time, Esalen was the centre, the birth centre for all these new fields like Rolfing®, Gestalt, and especially the exploration of the Bodymind which I was particularly interested in. While it wasn’t defined in those exact terms then, Gestalt was already very much into exploring the senses, the body and awareness.

Yes, I met her at Esalen in 1976. In her teaching, she had this idea that you had to lose your concepts and your words in order to find what you are seeing in the body. When training, she was always saying, ‘you have to learn to see, you are just looking in the old way’. She was very suspicious of all sorts of psychological stuff in fact and was always teasing the psychologists. She felt they were coming up with all kinds of ideas! She was actually very pragmatic. In what way was she pragmatic?

A lot of the visiting Rolfers™ were Gestalt-trained and I tried Rolfing® in 1975.

Even for something that might be quite spiritual, Rolf didn’t want us to fantasise about spirituality, she would say ‘come down to what you can touch’.

In fact, Dr. Ida Rolf had visited Esalen only a few years earlier to help Fritz Perls, one of the founders of Gestalt Psychology as he had been very unwell. Ida Rolf did Rolfing® on Perls while he was also training people in therapy and the Bodymind. Perls

She had this saying that you hear a lot in the Rolfing® community: ‘the body’s the only thing I can put my hands on, but don’t think that I think it is all in the body, that’s not what I am about. The body is just the only thing I can put my hands on.’ She remained

very open as well. Do you integrate Rolfing® into your Psychotherapy work? enerally my Rolfing® clients come to me with a specific physical complaint such as back pain, and my Psychotherapy clients come to me specifically for counselling. Some combine Rolfing® and Psychotherapy and half an hour of talking followed by 45 minutes of Rolfing® can be really effective. What do Rolfing® and Psychotherapy share in common? My whole approach to being with a person is about creating an awareness, to help them get more in touch with their body, with themselves. Even, in my psychotherapy work, when I am not Rolfing®, I find myself always checking where my client is breathing, how they are holding their body and where they are in their senses. The centering of the body that Rolfing® achieves is for me the entrance to meeting yourself. That is also the basis of how I work as a psychotherapist. When a person comes in, he has a certain perception of the world, and this is expressed emotionally, mentally or physically; these all connect to the same thing however. The body and the mind work together and so you always have to look at the role of perception. However, if one can ‘massage’, or alter that perception in some way, then you open yourself up and enable change to occur in your body, mind and emotional responses. When I am Rolfing®, I am not thinking so much about the technique, but more about how do I relate to myself, how do I relate to the person and can we find the ground, the ground for communicating? Communicating can be without words. It is a kind of presence. Rolfing® can help create that presence. It is about finding that field of awareness that informs and being in the present. In Rolfing®, we work with the whole body and you also have to open doors to get into rooms you can’t access immediately, as facilitated by the Ten Series. Rather like in Psychotherapy, you don’t just bust into the kitchen! So Rolfing® is for you a form of communication? If the Rolfer™ and the Rolfee™ can

communicate through the hands, through the touch, or maybe just through awareness, there is communication between the two but it is also communicating in a field. In a field of presence, of consciousness. That’s what is so powerful about Rolfing®. In the power of touch, and the way you work with connective tissue, you are entering a field that isn’t structured. Connective tissue is embryological in origin. It can take a form, it can be tough, it can be tender, but it can also be soft, watery and gel-like. So in a way, if you enter in the connective tissue, you are entering an infinite space that is incredible, open and limitless. Ida Rolf looked at connective tissue as an organ system. Connective tissue is in itself continuous. There is an ocean of possibilities but in the physical body, it is gravity that is the ruler. If you are out of balance, gravity makes you curve, makes you unbalanced, leads to osteoporosis etc. If you are really balanced, gravity works through you in the right way and you will experience a sense of centre, ‘the line’.

athletes, housewives, dancers and doctors. My wife is now treating a lot of children. Rolfing® really helps autistic children once they learn to focus on the body. Do you see any new developments in Rolfing®? I hate to see Rolfing® being taken over and included as a new ‘technique’ in physiotherapeutic-oriented methods for example, or being ‘integrated’ into all kinds of fancy new treatments and approaches. Of course, Fascial Therapy is hot these days but it is essentially missing out on Ida Rolf’s transformational view of changing consciousness through touch, and this, really is the core business of Rolfing®. -------More information on Bert Schmitz on: Photo courtesy of Sofie de Lauw, Bert Schmitz is pictured.

As Rolfers™ we believe that if we can balance the body and relate it to gravity, then the body will heal itself’. Ida Rolf’s work on connective tissue marked a paradigm shift that differentiated Rolfing from other treatments, physiotherapy, osteopathy, or chiropractic. The use of visualisation can be particularly powerful in Rolfing® ? Yes, you can help people to open through their senses – be it through visualisation or hearing, or feeling – to find new ways of perceiving. Part of our structure is in our perception. How you perceive yourself is also how the body is developing. If you are a fearful person, there is a perception of your inner feeling and outer world that your body will hold. To change your perception through working with visualisation can be a way of opening you up to new ways and new experiences. This is something very important for Rolfers™ to be aware of: that a person, how he holds a physical position, structure or pattern, is rooted in perception. How you look into the world is also how your perceive yourself. Correspondingly, if you get a new experience, your body will change. Do you specialise in particular health conditions when Rolfing®? I get a lot of clients suffering from arthrosis, neck and back pain as well as stress-related syndromes. Rolfing® gives them huge relief and insight. My clients come from all walks of life: bankers,

Rolfing® Stories | 7

Henrike Rietz-Leiber Certified Rolfer™

07/11/2017 by Charlotte Fraser

For me, the results of Rolfing® were immediate. I wanted to get out of this vicious cycle of pain and Henrike said something that made a big impression on me: Henrike said ‘Don’t think about how you are walking. Stay in your head and look around you. Try to avoid thinking about your legs!’ Before, I was always thinking about how I walked, asking myself, ‘am I doing it right?’ or ‘will that make the pain worse?’ Now, Henrike’s words accompany me everywhere, I do what she said and I just feel so much more optimistic!

I am speaking to Munich-based Certified Rolfer™, Henrike RietzLeiber and her client, Christa Werner, a pharmacist, who turned to Henrike for Rolfing® after suffering chronic pain in both her back and right leg following a hip operation in March 2014. “I was essentially telling Christa not to focus too much on the pain. For Christa to trust her legs, to find the ground, and to really feel the space… When I saw her for the first time, it was really apparent she needed more resilience. There was also this block, a block thatprevented her from seeing the ground and seeing the space. The head was too heavy for Christa to carry.” Explains Henrike. What made you try Rolfing®? I ask Christa. My family doctor recommended Rolfing® because of the problems I was experiencing with my back, my right thigh and knee. She gave me a prescription for ten sessions. I found Henrike on the Internet and she has a Rolfing® practice in Haidhausen close to where I live. I started Rolfing® in February and finished in June. We did it fairly consistently, nearly every week. I felt so much better afterwards. It was worth it! What was the problem? I had an operation on my right hip in March 2014. At the same time, I got a new mattress and, I know this sounds curious… but after the hip operation, I experienced the first big problems with my back. It was like it was ossified. I couldn’t stand at the counter of my pharmacy for more than two hours without a break. All this happened the same year that I closed my pharmacy and so I didn’t really look after it. Did you try other therapies before Rolfing®? I had some physiotherapy but the benefits of that lasted only some hours. It was always the same, the back pain would return. The year after, I started to get pain in my right knee and also cramping in my right thigh. I did gymnastics and the doctor recommended back rolls and yoga rolls but that didn’t work.

Nothing worked. Then, I consulted a Chiropractor, a friend of mine, and it was the same thing, no success. I carried on with physiotherapy and massage until I saw Henrike. Was the pain in your right leg a consequence of overcompensating after the hip surgery? After my hip operation, my doctor recommended I put a wedge under my left heel – a special sole inserted in the heel of my shoe. I did this and after we had completed the Rolfing®, my right side was fine and I had no more pain. However, my left side then started to hurt a bit. The one centimetre wedge became too much and so I have had it shortened to just half a centimetre and I hope that this will now be better. However, since I finished Rolfing®, my right side is okay and my back is wonderful. I have free movement again and it is heaven! I am going to make an appointment on my return from holiday to do some further work with Henrike on my left leg. Henrike adds: Going through the Ten Series I encouraged Christa to really listen to herself, to her body, and to adapt and decrease the depth of the heel if it became too much. Obviously, I cannot change actual bones. The thing is the way you approach it. You see, sometimes the body can really compensate and this is not a problem for the body, however Christa’s body really wasn’t able to. So you have to try different things out. Building up Christa’s resilience was the most important thing to me, as well as helping her achieve greater ease and freedom of movement. I remember her coming for her second treatment and her face was just beaming. She said it was her first week without experiencing pain. The pain was still there but significantly less than before. Also I see from my notes, as Christa hasn’t specifically mentioned it, that when she came to me for the second session, Christa also reported feeling no more pain on the scar on her right side resulting from her breast cancer surgery. Christa hadn’t actually told me about this pain before but I opened up the right side where she had had the surgery, and she told me the pain had now gone. Isn’t it strange how we can forget pain that was once so

dominant in our life? I ask Christa. Yes, it was just wonderful when Henrike released the tension around my arm and right breast. I had free movement at last, no more pain. It was great! I think it is normal that the body blocks out negative things. It’s best to get them out of the mind!

working on my feet (Session Two). The left one is damaged from when I slipped a disc twenty years ago and the toes are slightly numb. Henrike brought so much life into my left foot that it was a bit unnerving. Yet when I went out of her door, I felt like I was walking on clouds. Really great! Some people report Rolfing® working for them in between the actual physical sessions. Did you find that to be the case Christa?

Henrike adds: Yes that is often the case. After Session 8 for example, I noticed Christa could bend over to pick something off the floor, something she couldn’t do before. She forgot to mention that to me. I do think that it is a really good thing that clients forget pain! Did Rolfing® surprise you Christa in any way? Yes! I sing in a choir and after Session 7, my singing teacher pointed out that that my voice was particularly good that day. Henrike had treated my head, neck and shoulders during that session and so that was very surprising and exciting! It surprised me also how much more optimistic I became during the Ten Series. I have a totally new attitude to my life and I feel I can really seize the day. I have more power to achieve a day and so many more ideas about the future. Looking back, I realise I was rather depressed. There I was, 66 years old, and I couldn’t move anymore, and needing to rest all the time. I want a good life. I want to use my day. That is very important to me and before I had no idea how to go on with this really depressing situation. When you are focusing so much on the pain in your body, you really can’t look outside. Were the Rolfing® sessions challenging in any way? Yes, there was one session working on my left hip! Henrike found one particularly angry muscle! There was also one session

Yes. I was always conscious of what Henrike told me. After Henrike relaxed the area around my chest, I found I could stand longer and straighter at the counter in the pharmacy. I found myself adjusting my posture automatically. Henrike, do you have any other observations about treating Christa? Yes, after Session 6, Christa said she felt free in the back and she could swing her arms. It was very important to get her arms up. Christa was just so glad, so happy during and after all our sessions. I can really remember her face after Session 10. Christa said ‘Wow! I am just so happy with my body’ and she really was in her body. When she first came to me, Christa was there but her body was something different. Now, Christa was swinging her arms, really moving her body, almost dancing in my room. Most importantly, Christa also said, ‘if I do have a pain, now I know how to get out of it’. It was just so wonderful to see her really smiling and to see so much life in her face. -------More information on Henrike Rietz-Leiber on: Photo courtesy of Henrike Rietz-Leiber.

Rolfing® Stories | 9

Marina Blandini

Certified Advanced Rolfer™ and Rolf Movement™ Practitioner 15/11/2017 by Charlotte Fraser

With every Rolfing® session I discovered something new about my body and the world around me, my vision became wider… and so did my photography. I achieved an entirely new state of wellness. Rolfing® has changed my life. It resolved my back pain and gave me the ability to walk without pain. Says Andrea Sciré

I am speaking to Certified Advanced Rolfer™ and Rolf Movement™ practitioner Marina Blandini and her client, Andrea Sciré (age 39), both based in Sicily, Italy.

cortisone and opium-based derivatives to stop the pain. These drugs created a strange condition in my mind. I was very chaotic and became a stranger in my life.

An instructor, choreographer and passionate advocate of dance and movement, Marina qualified as a Rolfer™ in 2002. Practicing the Art of Movement for over 40 years, Marina has worked with The Duncan Conservatory of Prague, The Dance University of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia, AFDAS in France and the Centro di Psicoterapia Transazionale Poiesis in Catania. She set up the Centro Studi L’Arte del Movimento in Sicily and her work as an artist in the field of choreography and video-making has been exhibited worldwide.

It was my neurosurgeon who first suggested Rolfing but one day, my boss mentioned Marina as we were publishing an interview with her in the magazine Sto Bene. I called Marina and started Rolfing®.

A web designer and branding expert, Andrea achieved international acclaim this year for his street photography when he was awarded gold in the PX3 2017 Competition in Paris, France, for his work “White Souls”. What led you to try Rolfing®? I ask Andrea. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with three hernias in my back. These pressed against my spinal cord and caused huge pain in my legs and back. For two years, I was obliged to stay home in bed because it was difficult for me to walk and to leave the house. While my job confines me to an office chair, my passion – street photography – requires me to walk for miles waiting for something to happen. Every street photography session became traumatic for me however because of the pain I experienced afterwards. Everyday tasks became difficult and I turned to medication,

Did you try other therapies prior to Rolfing? I come from a family of doctors and so I tried traditional medicine first. Because one of the hernias was inside my spinal cord, my neurosurgeon advised against surgery; it was deemed too risky and could result in me being in a wheelchair. Finally, a year ago, I had my hernias removed with a non-invasive vertebral treatment (NIVET). While the mechanical reason for my pain was removed, the spinal nerves connecting to my legs were damaged. My neurosurgeon recommends I continue Rolfing as it is the only way to help me stay well, to maintain my posture and prevent a new hernia developing. Are you still being Rolfed®? Yes. I do three Rolfing® sessions with Marina every six months to maintain the results. Marina adds: I recommended Andrea do also more Rolf Movement™, to work more on his coordination. When Andrea first came to see me four years ago, it was obvious he had a brilliant mind but it

was completely separate from his body. Andrea had no knowledge of his body, he never did any movement, and he never trained. So we started creating that new relationship from the very beginning and then, once we were done with the first cycle of Rolfing®, I told him to come every six months. There was one year when Andrea didn’t do any Rolfing® and some pain returned. Then, once Andrea realized that in a few Rolfing sessions we could get over that, he started coming every six months. We take it a little further every time. At the beginning, the pain diminished and now it is literally gone. With Rolfing® Structural Integration, you can really change the tissue so that where it is contracted and limited, it can start moving again. With Rolf Movement™, you can really teach the person how to best use his body so that it works functionally with ease and no strain. This is important for someone with Andrea’s pathology as we had to totally reset his coordination. Rolf Movement™ works with perception and coordination, and in particular proprioception: the ability to perceive your own self. We teach people to recognize the automatism that isn’t helping them, those bodily movements that are not consciously controlled, and to re-pattern the brain and nervous system to gain greater movement.

Marina says: Andrea said Rolfing® had expanded his view and his point of view means everything to him as a photographer! You know, even the way you look at a screen can impact on a muscular or physical level. If you gaze on something very intensely, as a lot of web masters and photographers do, you somehow make a triangle with gravity. Your centre of gravity moves forward and that can put you out of balance. Did the Rolfing® resolve things immediately? Each session gives me a new state of wellness. My body is aligned, I sit and get up with greater ease and I can prevent the onset of pain. I have gained greater serenity. Marina says: We got immense results in the very first session. I asked Andrea one question, ‘What work do you do?’ When he said he was a web master, I said ‘Aha! You are sitting 12-16 hours a day, immobile in front of your computer, right?’ I asked him to show me how he sat and, of course, his sitting posture was heavily compressing his back and he was pressing between the vertebrae. Just teaching Andrea how to sit got immediate results. I think that was when a big window opened in Andrea’s mind, that something is possible.

What did Rolfing® achieve in terms of results?

Did Rolfing® surprise you in any way? .

I was like a man with a head and body disconnected! I was incapable of doing simple tasks. Step by step, I was amazed by the results I achieved with Rolfing®. I’m now happy every day. I look at the world in a different way and I am able to walk the streets for miles without feeling tired. I’m more flexible and I can stand for hours without any back pain.

Rolfing® surprises me all the time, after every session I’m more in contact with the ground and I can feel gravity helping me. It now feels like the ground is pushing my feet up! Since you completed the Rolfing® Ten Series, has your approach to life changed in any way?

I have learnt the correct way to sit down, to get up from my desk … I have changed my actions. I also do an exercise where I walk around on all fours as this helps me stay well the rest of the day.

opening the relationship with the three main curves of the back, Andrea could release that position and walk much more easily. The articulations opened up and demanded less effort. Movement became more dynamic and lighter.

Importantly for me, my vision is wider. I have learned to pull my head back so that my posture is more aligned and centered.

I recommend Andrea does the four legs exercise for just a minute a day.

Marina elaborates:

The four legs exercise is akin to a ‘reset button’ to correct posture? I ask Marina.

The ‘walking like a dog’, or ‘four legs’ exercise immediately shows where the main curves of the spine go, if they are correctly aligned or not. We have three physiological curves that are extremely important: the Lumbar curve, the Thoracic curve and the Cervical curve. They have to be in the correct position and if they are not, all the connections go. By putting a person in a four-legged position you achieve this immediately, you can make them perceive what they are doing correctly or incorrectly, and you can suggest how best to move in a more functional way. When the client then gets up, the difference in their normal walking is astonishing. You can re-pattern the brain to achieve the contralateral movement that you do in regular walking with a correct back posture. If the main curves are in place, the walking on four legs is much wider, easier and effortless. When Andrea first came to me, he was lying back in front of his computer and the Lumbar curve was gone. There was a big curve between the sacrum and the head, and when Andrea walked, he walked with this curve. The sacrum or his ‘tail’ if you like, was between the legs. I like to use the image of the happy dog pictured with its tail up and wagging. When Andrea walked, he was somehow holding his sacrum a little in between the legs and the resulting motion was shorter and more difficult. By

Exactly. It is like putting you back to when you learn to crawl. Crawling is when the side-to-side movement brings structure into the brain, when children establish their contralateral movement. Most people who walk with their tail between their legs don’t move their arms, they just use their legs. They don’t use the spine, the torqueing of the spine, or the release of the spine, to help propel movement. They say the average person walks around 10,000 steps a day. If your leg weighs 10kgs, then you are lifting 10,000kgs a day, either effortlessly or with enormous effort. That’s huge! If the motor coordination is correct and your body is correctly centred then most of this work happens thanks to gravity, inertia and a law of physics that seems to move all by itself. That’s fantastic isn’t it! -------More information on Marina Blandini on: Photos courtesy of Jörg Steffens Photography. Marina Blandini is pictured.

Rolfing® Stories | 11

Begoña Fontana Urriza Certified Rolfer™

15/01/2018 by Charlotte Fraser

“By the end of the ten Rolfing® sessions, Eric was almost unrecognisable. In his last email to me he said: ‘You took fifty years off my life and now I feel like a teenager!’ Says Begoña Fontana Urriza.”

able to fight the pain. I used to take painkillers but now I have almost completely stopped after my Rolfing® sessions. I turn 67 in January and I feel like a teenager both in body and spirit! Rolfing® really helped you? I felt the first sensation of wellbeing immediately in comparison to all the chiropractor treatments I’d had in the past. Rolfing® really gave me the joy of rediscovering my body, my feet, and the pleasure of long walks without experiencing any pain. Now I can control and manage my pain, if I experience any at all. My wife and I now walk on average ten kilometres a day and it is beautiful because you are regenerating both your body and your spirit. I have to say that Begoña is an extraordinary Rolfer and I thank her once again! What led you to try Rolfing®? I am speaking to Begoña Fontana Urriza, a Certified Rolfer™ in Spain, and her client, Eric Weber (66 years) who lives in Geneva. Begoña owns the Body Mind health centre L’atelier in Sant Cugat del Vallès, just outside Barcelona, with her husband, Hervé Baunard, a Certified Advanced Rolfer™, Rolf® Movement Practitioner and Pilates instructor. Begoña is also the Chairperson of the Spanish Board of Directors for The European Rolfing® Association. “When I first met Eric for Rolfing®, I saw a tall, thin man… fragile, sweet, a gentle person, walking slowly. He was a very articulate and a social person who enjoyed interacting. I could guess that pain was an inseparable friend. He had so much tension. It was as if he was held up entirely by his shoulders, like a puppet… Eric moved but his feet hardly touched the ground. It looked like he was fighting gravity.” Explains Begoña. What was going on in your life? I ask Eric. When I was a teenager, I had what they call ‘Scheuermann’s Disease’ [a developmental disorder of the spine]. In the early Sixties, there was not a lot they could do about it and my doctor proposed breaking my spine, applying plaster and for me to lie completely flat for about six months. My reaction was ‘oh wow!’ as six months is a very long time and especially when you are sixteen. As you can imagine, my answer was ‘No way!’ and so I lived with the back problem. A pain in my shoulder started up about ten years ago without any warning but my back and my shoulder weren’t to know that I would discover Rolfing® and be

I was doing an Ayurveda cure in Sri Lanka and mentioned my back problems to a German lady. She asked me if I knew about Rolfing® and explained how it works. In the past I have tried Physiotherapy and Chiropractic but with little to no success. I thought that the Rolfing® method of treating pain was more than interesting and so when I returned to Geneva, I searched for a Rolfer® online. This led me to France Hatt-Arnold who referred me to Begoña. I registered for the full 10 sessions and was rolfed every two weeks for five months. Was there a Rolfing® session that you found particularly impactful? The 10 sessions were all powerful in a different way and very difficult to explain. I felt more and more in touch with by body, especially my feet and my balance. Begoña says: Definitely the second session! Eric made a great discovery: he said he found he had feet! Now, he could articulate, he could walk, and I think that was the biggest session for him. He was like a baby when it starts to stand up on his feet for the first time and walk. He abandoned himself to gravity, challenging it and swinging his tall body in space. Eric discovered new things with every session, but to have the

ground under his feet and to feel the temperature, the texture of the surface, for him that was ‘wow’. After that Eric told me he didn’t like to wear socks and shoes in his apartment, and that he likes to walk barefoot for the simple pleasure of walking. Before, Eric could hardly walk because he was in so much pain. Did Rolfing® surprise you? I ask Eric. The big surprise with Rolfing® is the approach. For once, the patient is considered a human being and not a case number. The problems with my back and left shoulder, which I’d suffered for fifty years, were treated in such a gentle manner. Begoña adds: Yes, what I really like about Rolfing® is that we guide, care, support and treat the whole person to facilitate self-healing. In French we describe this best as ‘Accompagner la personne’. It isn’t just that you work on someone and that’s it, and it isn’t like you are just doing a massage to someone. The person isn’t passive. Rolfing is like a kind of dance together. Some people come to Rolfing® when they feel like they are in a dark room and they can’t or don’t know how to get out. We show them the different doors, opening a door just a little to show them that there is some light coming in. The Rolfee then goes and chooses the right door for themselves; possibly trying out a lot, if not all the doors in the process, but they always choose their own path. We don’t ever put the person into a situation that they don’t want to be in. It is always their choice and the Rolfer® is just there to give them some clues, some different perspectives. That goes with some physical manipulation, working in 3D, and then there is the educational aspect, and of course the movement. Rolfing® isn’t just physical though. I find clients are often surprised to see a link with their emotions. Sometimes they even can remember things from their childhood when emotions are released. The body is related to your history, and all the emotions you have, all your stress is right there in your body. So when we touch a part of the body, we are effectively opening a door, we are directing something.

You were a jewellery designer for many years. What made you train as a Rolfer™? I ask Begoña Yes, I was a jewellery designer until ten years ago. However, before Rolfing, I studied naturopathy and acupuncture, more for my own interest, as I wasn’t thinking about pursuing a career in either. I have also been involved in our health centre since it opened eight years ago – that was a big thing for us! However, with Rolfing® it was different. Once I experienced Rolfing®, I knew I wanted to become a Rolfer™and I undertook my training in Geneva. What was it about Rolfing® that appealed to you? I realised after studying naturopathy and acupuncture that I needed to continue working with my hands, and also to work in volume. Working in 3D is very important to me. When working with a body in 3D, you are working with the whole person. You are holding a body and you aren’t just working on one part of it. In Rolfing®, if you work with one side of the body, it reflects to the other side of the body as well. This is the important thing to understand about working with fascia, that everything is interconnected. For me, coming from an artistic background, I was used to working in 3D, in sculpture … I see Rolfing® as similar to sculpting or modelating someone. The difference is that you have someone who is filling, someone who is integrating a new way of being. There is an interaction… an exchange. Eric started to open himself during the ten sessions. He started to become conscious of his body, his movement, the floor, about everything. Eric started to paint and to play the guitar. He was like a child discovering new things that gave him pleasure. Eric started walking every day! His doctor can’t believe his progress and it is lovely that Eric has told him how much Rolfing® changed his life, and just how beneficial it can be for any condition. Escuela Española de Rolfing® will be offering Rolfing Training in Madrid in 2019. -------More information on Begoña Fontana Urriza on:

Were there any challenges for you with Rolfing®? I ask Eric. As I was feeling better and better, the challenge was to persevere day after day with a little practice, and to believe that the beneficial results will be with me forever. Rolfing is like a meditation for my body.

Photo courtesy of Marc Gatsby, Begoña Fontana Urriza is pictured.

Begoña adds: Everybody is different and the results as well. At the beginning Eric was in such pain, that I had to be very careful. Initially Eric couldn’t lie on the bed as he was in so much pain, so I had to work with Eric in a different way using cushions to make him comfortable. However, little by little, step-by-step, things started to happen and we achieved movement. We trusted each other from the outset and that is so important as Rolfing is a relationship of based on care and respect that we build with the patient.

Rolfing® Stories | 13

Aman Andres Kohlbach

Certified Rolfer™ and Naturopath 21/02/2018 by Charlotte Fraser

After the first Rolfing® session, I found I could breathe again and I actually thought, ‘do I really need all ten sessions, I feel so much better already!’ Then overtime, I realized it made sense as each session is just one part of the whole thing, and I experienced fantastic things in so many of the sessions.’

Says Tanja Wego

I am talking to Certified Rolfer™ Aman Andres Kohlbach and his client, Tanja Wego (42), both based in Cologne, Germany. Mother to a 15-year old daughter, Tanja works in the finance division of a property management company. She turned to Aman for Rolfing® after two emergency hospital admissions with a suspected heart attack; all follow-up treatments failed to resolve her chronic health problems and anxiety. What was the problem Tanja? For years, I experienced terrible problems with my body. The pain in my body got so bad I was admitted to hospital twice because I thought I was having a heart attack. The doctors investigated my heart but they couldn’t find anything wrong. They recommended I try psychotherapy and physiotherapy. I was also told to see a psychiatrist. Did you follow the doctors’ advice? Yes. I went to see a psychotherapist, a physiotherapist and a psychiatrist! The psychotherapy helped me a little as my life was very stressful at the time, particularly my job… that was very demanding. The physiotherapy scarcely helped at all. The psychiatrist told me to take antidepressants but at that point, I was 37 and I just thought, ‘No, I don’t want to do that!’ I’d tried out so many different therapies and I was slightly giving up, however something inside me thought ‘there must be someone or something that can help me’. Were you working very long hours when all this happened? Yes. I was the PA to the boss and I was working a huge amount. Was Tanja suffering from burnout? I ask Aman. That was the word she used when she came to see me. It was a vicious cycle. She was very anxious and she could also never venture very far from home for fear that something would happen to her. What made you try Rolfing®? I ask Tanja. On my way to work, I always used to pass by one of the clinics where Aman practices. I called in one day actually looking for an osteopath but the doctor recommended I try Rolfing® with Aman instead.

I thought I’d give Rolfing® a go, however I have to admit that I am not one to easily talk or show my emotions to other people, nor do I really like being touched. I don’t even like massages that much. It is easy if you know what is going to happen but Rolfing® was something totally new to me so I was a little bit apprehensive at the beginning. However, Aman was very good at explaining how it worked, the process of The Ten Series, and I did the full ten sessions. That was three years ago and I’m now planning on seeing Aman for a top-up session! So you had absolutely no knowledge about Rolfing® prior to meeting Aman? No, I went along to the first session with almost no expectations except a faint hope that I might feel a little bit better afterwards. It really was a case of ‘let’s see… let’s give it a go’. In a way, I had nothing to lose. I thought I would try one session, and then, if that was any good, continue with the remaining nine sessions. However, I felt the benefits from the very first session, I could breathe again. I then wanted to see through the complete Ten Series as each session is a part of the whole treatment. Like a ten-piece jigsaw puzzle? Yes. Did you like the fact that that Rolfing® is structured as The Ten Series, that it comprises ten sessions with a clear ‘beginning, middle and end’? Yes, very much so. It is especially attractive to somebody like me with my experience of having tried out so many therapies over the years! For instance, take physiotherapy… I was getting this thrown at me. It can go on and on and on, but at the same time, I had the feeling it wasn’t helping me. I see Rolfing® totally differently. From session to session, it was releasing stuff, strengthening, preparing me for the next session… you can really follow the process where it is making you whole again. Rolfing® has given me a totally different quality of life. Not just in terms of my body, but my mind and spirit. Was there a particular session where you thought ‘wow!’ Rolfing® really is helping me’?

There were two sessions that positively surprised me and made me think ‘oh wow’, and there was one session that totally finished me off but in a really good way!

process. She was actively engaged, ready to really process it, go through it, integrate it and carry it on in her life. For me, she was really great to work with.

The first session… I had always had this pain in the chest, around my heart, which frightened me, and Aman was able to provoke this pain and tension by touching some spots in the body and then release them. It really felt like he physically grabbed hold of the pain and removed it from me. That really helped me relax and let go.

Tanja says:

There was also one session when Aman told me to stand up slowly and I felt like I was drunk as I felt the floor completely differently. It was like I could walk in a different way and I had to learn to walk all over again as it was so totally new to me. I have a different movement pattern now and I find it easier to walk. I now take much longer walks with my Golden Retriever. Before I used to find that walk pretty intense but now the dog is the one that is more exhausted! My head is more freed up for walking and I am enjoying nature. I have a totally different perception of everything around me. Now I don’t have to walk with a mobile for fear of falling over and dying of a heart attack. Aman adds: I don’t remember one particular moment however it was already evident in the first session that Rolfing® helped Tanja. There was a change in her attitude to the whole thing. However what I really liked was Tanja’s openness to go through the whole

Yes, I was really willing to try something new, even though previous therapies had not helped me. It was only really after I felt the benefits from the first session, however, that I really opened myself up to the whole process. That is even though I like to think that I am usually quite open to trying out new things! Tanja, did Rolfing® help you address your work life balance? Yes! I still work full time with the same company but I have a different role. I am no longer assistant to the management. I found a job where I am more my own boss and this enables me to leave work when I want to. Aman adds: Rolfing® has really helped Tanja strengthen her boundaries.

session when it came round but It would have put me off Rolfing® if that had come at an earlier stage in the process. Since you completed the Rolfing® Ten Series, has your life changed in other ways? It is a good question! Rolfing® and my partner (since 2015) brought me back to life. Before I was just fighting… doing my job, managing the house, the dog, my daughter… I wasn’t going to parties or anything, or if I was, I stayed very much on the sidelines. Now I am very much looking forward to participating in the Cologne Carnival. I have always been a big Carnival fan and now, having stood back for a while, I’ve got right back into it. In fact, my daughter is dancing in the Carnival. I am again able to go and watch all my daughter’s dance performances. I am also travelling further afield. For a long time, I didn’t dare to go on holiday outside Germany and even then, it would always be a beach holiday, never to the mountains. Since Rolfing®, I have been to Scotland with my family and that was just wonderful. I really have got my life back! --------

Tanja agrees: I feel more in my own body. That part is hard to explain to other people. I’ve spoken about it to some of my closest friends but I have to admit that I get some odd looks!

More information on Aman Andres Kohlbach on: Photo courtesy of Daniel Hahnfeld, Aman Andres Kohlbach is pictured.

Did Rolfing® present any particular challenges? Yes, Session Seven which works on the neck and jaw area. I was ready for the

Rolfing® Stories | 15

Claudia Kroczek

Certified Rolfer™ and Rolf Movement® Practitioner 12/09/2018 by Charlotte Fraser

In this conversation, Certified Rolfer™ and Rolf Movement® Practitioner, Claudia Kroczek reconnects with her client, Natasha B (33 years), 18 months after she completed her Rolfing® ‘Ten Series’ to check up on her progress. A Sales Manager in a Fitness Centre, Natasha saw Claudia every two to three weeks from June to October 2016.

Claudia qualified in Rolfing® in 2007 at The European Rolfing® Association in Munich. She lives in Hamburg and practices from two clinics in Volksdorf and Rümpel. Claudia: Thank you so much for taking the time for this! It is lovely to catch up with you and thank you so much for also agreeing to share your experience of Rolfing® with others. If we scroll back in time, just for the benefit of others, what was it that made you come to see me? What complaints did you have? Natasha: “For as long as I can remember, I had a stabbing pain in my upper back, near my right shoulder blade. When stressed, I would also get recurrent tension in my jaw, as well as pains around the back of my neck that were probably brought on by that”. Claudia: How did you come upon Rolfing® as a treatment method? Natasha: I work in the fitness industry and so I am naturally in a position to keep up with what my clients’ needs are and what types of therapy are available. For some time now, the subject of connective tissue work – or ‘fascia’ – has been very much in the headlines. If you google ‘fascia work’ in the therapy manuals, you inevitably come across Rolfing®! Claudia: And how did you come across me?

near my shoulder blade was no longer constantly there. Claudia: Yes the point between the shoulder blades was as if someone had stuck a knife into it. And how did it go for you then with the subsequent course of sessions? Natasha: From session to session, I enjoyed longer periods without pain. After the sixth session, the pain suddenly went altogether. That was like a miracle for me. Natasha: You were recommended to me by a girl friend. She always used to suffer from back and shoulder complaints but she is now free of all that after you treated her. Claudia: Had you tried any therapies before coming to me? Natasha: Yes, I tried a variety of things but none of them helped. I’d actually come to the conclusion that I might just have to live with the pain. I had already consulted a doctor and he prescribed painkillers but they didn’t help. In addition, I had seen an acupuncturist, a physiotherapist several times, an osteopath, as well as tried working out with different machines in the gym. Claudia: What were your impressions after your first Rolfing® session? Natasha: After the treatment I felt somehow lighter and the stabbing pain

Claudia: What about the seventh session, when we worked a lot on your head and around your mouth? You told me that you used to bite on a mouth guard to stop you grinding your teeth at night, and you suffered recurrent jaw pain. Natasha: After the treatment I could not believe what had happened. I no longer had any tension at all in my jaw. It was as if someone had given me a ‘new half face’. It was a really good feeling. Two days after the treatment though my neck began to feel painful and I got headaches. I think that was a reaction to the treatment and I have heard that symptoms can in many cases intensify before they fade away. That was certainly the case with me. Sometimes one dare not be happy, out of fear that the pain will come back. However my jaw is much better and so is the back of my neck. I gave up or changed various habits which were detrimental to

my posture – as you explained to me and as we also practiced together, both sitting down and moving around.

Claudia: And now after completing the tenth session and a few months having elapsed, how do you feel?

Claudia: Yes, I recall also telling you not to think about pulling your shoulders back but to focus more on your pelvis. While, we don’t know what brought on the pain between your shoulder blades, we know that this flared up at times of stress and so I also showed you breathing techniques to help you stay calmer. I also recommended you wear a sport bra with thicker straps for added support.

Natasha: I could hardly believe it to begin with but I am now pain-free. I am just so happy that I discovered you and Rolfing®! -------More information on Claudia Kroczek on:

Origins of the Rolfing® Logo an extraordinary story of a four-year-old boy

The Rolf Institute ® of Structural Integration and the European Rolfing® Association e.V. Logos depict the extraordinary story of a four-year-old boy, Tim Barrett, who was diagnosed with Leggs-Perthes disease in 1959. Tim’s mother was advised by doctors to put him in a cast for five years, and it was predicted he would be in a wheelchair by the age of 20. Dr. Ida Rolf believed she could help Tim without having to him put into a cast. She worked on him for several months and he grew up without any handicaps, and is now a healthy, active surfer in his forties. Tim Barrett lives with his family in Hawaii.

Ida Pauline Rolf, a pioneering leader Dr. Ida P. Rolf left behind a vital method applied by more than 2000 Rolfers worldwide and she continues to be recognized today, as a pioneering leader in the fields of Fascia manipulation and movement education. Dr. Rolf’s profound inquiry into how to enhance the whole person by organizing the body in gravity has inspired generations of bodyworkers around the world.

Photo © Ronald Thompson

Rolfing® Stories | 17

Charlotte Fraser Editor’s Profile

Charlotte Fraser is the Editor of our Rolfing® ‘Success Stories’ page. Co-Founder of Pilot PR, Charlotte is a Media Relations specialist with over 20 years’ experience specialising in the Luxury Lifestyle, Health, Spa and Wellbeing sectors. A qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist, Charlotte has previously written a nutrition column for Country House Magazine (now Country & Town House Magazine) in the UK and contributes to newspapers, magazines and radio shows on topical health and wellbeing issues. A passionate advocate of Rolfing® as a result of her own personal experience of The Ten Series, Charlotte and Pilot PR have recently also worked with Rolfing® UK to help raise wider public awareness as to the health benefits of Rolfing® in the UK.

The European ROLFING® Association e.V. is the membership corporation of Rolfing® practitioners in Europe. This non-profit organization was founded for the purpose of “promoting education and training in the field of Structural Integration of the human body as described by the method‘s founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf.”

European Rolfing® Association e.V. About

European ROLFING® Association e.V. Saarstraße 5 | 80797 Munich | Germany | Telefon: + 49 (0)89 - 54 37 09 40 Fax: + 49 (0)89 - 54 37 09 42 ROLFING® is a registered service mark of the ROLF INSTITUTE of Structural Integration in Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Rolfing® Stories | 18

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.