Rolfing® Structural Integration and yoga make a perfect pair. The Rolfing work gets your body aligned and open, freeing both surface and deep restrictions, and yoga is the perfect practice to keep you body supple, elastic, and toned. Yes I have clients who don't do yoga – or other stretching – and that's ok, they just need Rolfing tune-ups a bit more frequently. That's beneficial for my business bottom-line, but my real business is to help clients become more embodied, and a yoga practice increases body awareness and reduces your reliance on outside help from chiropractors, Rolfers, massage therapists, physical therapists, etc.
There are many types of yoga, suited to different body types. If you are young and flexible and energetic, power yoga may be for you. Many of my clients, however, need to
- recover from an injury or get help with chronic pain,
- reduce the impact of aging,
- regain lost mobility, or
- reduce stress
My favorite form of yoga to recommend to these folks is Viniyoga, and my favorite Viniyoga studio in Seattle is Whole Life Yoga in Greenwood. Whole Life Yoga has a new blog, and one of the early posts is "What Makes Viniyoga Different?" She outlines the 4 main factors, which I'll explain below from a Rolfer's perspective.
- Adaptation – This means the yoga asanas (poses) are adapted to fit your body – you don't have to become a pretzel to fit a strict form. This is important for me in recommending Viniyoga to my Rolfing clients who have had injuries that limit flexibility, range of motion, and the like. It's a form of yoga that works for all bodies.
- Use of Repetition and Stay – In a Viniyoga class you do sequences that move you in and out of a pose a number of times before holding it. I support this as a Rolfer because it prepares the body for change by gradually signaling stretch receptors in the muscles to give a little more, then a little more. You are also working your awareness of your body in motion, and noticing the changes with each repetition. If you can't notice something, you can't embody it – that's why at the end of every Rolfing session I ask my client to "stand up and see what you notice, what's different." Repetition helps to focus the mind and enhance awareness.
- Moving with the Breath – It sounds so simple – as you breathe in, move this way, as you breathe out, move that way – yet coordination of breath and movement is magic balm for the nervous system. I see hypertoned (too tight) bodies every day in my Rolfing practice, and a portion of that tightness comes from a wound-up nervous system. As you coordinate your breath and movement you automatically slow down, become more fluid in your movements, and bring your nervous system back into balance.
- Sequencing – Viniyoga practice combines poses intelligently into a fluid moving practice based on class goals. For example, I often recommend that clients with back pain try out Tracy Weber's Yoga for Healthy Backs as I know that her Viniyoga training has taught her to string poses together in a way that will pose-by-pose prepare the body to gradually and sensitively open painful areas. (Tracy owns Whole Life Yoga; you can read here how yoga resolved her severe back pain.
If you see me for a session, be sure to ask me for a free class pass for Whole Life Yoga, to experience for yourself what Viniyoga is.