THE TEN SESSIONS Of STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION
IN THE BEGINNING…
We begin the session with a consultation usually based on the information found on the client history form. After we discuss your general health, we do a body reading. This consists of you, the client standing, with as much or as little clothing as you feel comfortable wearing, to get a sense of your awareness and how you feel in your body. Then the therapist will look to see what regions, structures and muscles are out of balance with the centerline of your body. The therapist can also get a sense of your mood and how it may be reflected in your posture. Then you can get on the massage table and begin session One.
At the core of every session, our intention is to lengthen, broaden and balance the body’s structure. Session one begins with opening and increasing the capacity to breathe because the breath is primary (first) to life. When we breathe we use the muscles in the chest as well as the neck and abdomen, which in turn draw on the pelvis. The breath is also affected by the front line of the body. If the front of the body is contracted or collapsed in any way, our lungs cannot fill to their full capacity. Sufficient oxygen is necessary for cell life, all movement, fighting disease, and hundreds of other biological functions. This is the beginning of life.
Session two turns to the feet and lower legs, which is a logical progression from session one. If the front line is opened, the posture can become tilted backward, which affects the legs and feet. Grounding is a keyword for this session, as the feet and legs must now be stabilized to be an anchor for the body on the earth.
This session addresses the sideline and upper body. It is the completion of the work on the superficial or “sleeve” muscles. The lower back, ribs, and shoulder girdle are the focus of this session. Once complete, the deeper underlying muscles or the core musculature is more accessible to manipulate.
Session four returns to the legs beginning with the knee, thigh and then the abdomen to initiate more detailed work throughout the next three sessions. At this juncture, we continue with the intention of creating more stability for the trunk of the body to sit on the pelvis in balance. This can be likened to a container filled with water that must stay level or water will spill from the front, back or the sides. Most of us have a pelvis that tilts forward creating strain on the lower back and other sub-related musculature. In this session the psoas muscle, the most core muscle in the body, located in the front of the vertebrae extending through the pelvic floor, is focused on for the first time but not the last. It is responsible for bending at the waist, minor and major lower back pain if it is weak or overly tight.
This session is about lengthening the core line. More structural work on the thighs and psoas continues in session five. Oddly enough but logically, all the thigh muscles deeply affect the balance of the pelvis and lower back. Session five deals with the inner knee, thigh and psoas muscles to get the pelvis to “swing free”. In Ayer Vedic medicine, our life force energy is said to be seated in the pelvis region rising up through the body out through the crown of the head. Freeing the pelvis gives greater ease in walking, dancing, twisting as well as opening the door for our vitality to be experienced and expressed.
Finally, we get to the back, and the back line of the body. In session six we complete the work on the thighs, only we focus now on the back of them or more specifically the hamstrings. The hamstrings pull down on the pelvis affecting the balance of the lower back. Additional areas that we address are the glutes, ligaments connecting glutes to the legs, the lower and upper back. This session can bring so much relief because it really completes the foundation work on the body from the neck down.
Now we deal with the neck and head. This is a very interesting session because the strokes in this region often “go where no man has ever gone before”. Basically, all of the strokes are short in the neck, head, face and mouth. The work here helps to release the holdings of the head and neck to balance them over the rest of the body. We are also further lengthening the core line of the body at the top.
This session begins the integration or touch up work in the previous seven sessions. Generally, this session focuses on the bottom half of the body. If there is any wobbliness or instability in the legs then we will work specifically to gain better footing in standing. We also are scouting for how well the pelvis is connected to the legs and the torso.
In session nine, the top half of the body is where we focus. We look to see how well the torso arises out of the pelvis. If the breathing is restricted in any way or if the head and neck are still not balanced on the body, then that is where we’ll work. Furthermore, we evaluate how the arms are functioning unto themselves as well as how they support the whole body.
This is the final session of the basic ten sessions. We view the body from an overall perspective. Now we’re able to “put the icing on the cake”. We do any fine tuning and adjustments that are needed. This is also an opportunity to do a full body less intensive session. We can look at the whole person physically and psychologically. Sometimes there is such an experience of change in the body that a shift in the mind of mental perspective is altered as well.
Life after the TEN SESSIONS is often reported as really different and free. Sometimes people ask, “now what”? It is recommended that you continue receiving connective tissue therapy as a support to the work that has been done. Also, it is important to develop a lifestyle or life support system that helps the body maintain a healthy structure. Yoga, exercise, sound nutrition and a stress management program are all very effective toward this end.