What is Structural Integration and the 10 session series?
Structural Integration (SI) is a holistic bodywork tradition that addresses the root cause of pain, imbalance, restriction or dysfunction. My focus is the fascia; a rich, fluid network of communication running through the entire body, it wraps every muscle, bone and organ. In this network, there is great capacity for long lasting change.
The Ten Series
The Classic Ten Series was developed to create balance throughout the entire structure, each session building on the previous ones. Ideally, the fascia is soft, fluid and mobile, but can become hardened and stuck, changing the way your entire structure functions. These patterns of injury, illness or trauma stay in our bodies unless we actively work to release the compensation patterns that no longer serve us. An old ankle injury can show up years later as chronic neck pain. A knee injury might create imbalance in the pelvis leading to a tipped uterus or digestive problems. Through the wisdom of the Ten Series, we have the opportunity to address the entire body, unwinding compensation patterns and finding a comfortable, functional balance within the structure.
Sessions 1-3: The Foundation Sessions
These sessions work with the superficial layers of the fascia, creating the support and stability for the transformative work of the Core Sessions.
Breath is what nourishes our bodies and is the core of every movement practice and traditional healing modality. Session One softens fascia around the ribs, arms, neck and shoulders, allowing for full, deep functional breathing. This session lays the groundwork for the rest of the series.
The feet. Just as a building needs a solid foundation, so do our bodies. This session balances the arches of the feet and bones of the ankle, lengthens and balances tendons, and works to make sure there’s adequate movement in the bones of the lower leg. In working with the intrinsic muscles of the foot, we can begin to create a dynamic, functional balance to comfortably support the rest of the body.
The sideline. Session 3 addresses the fascial adhesions along the entire lateral line of the body, the hips, IT band, knees, shoulders, and most importantly the relationship between the pelvis and the ribcage. Can they move independently of one another or has the fascia ‘glued’ them together? When we have a structural imbalance, muscle groups designed for movement and mobility get recruited to do the work of stabilizing, creating fascial adhesions, pain and lack of mobility. This session begins to dismantle the armature that no longer serves us.
Sessions 4-7: The Core Sessions
The Core Sessions work with the deeper layers of fascia and balance the core structures of the body. The focus is not ‘core muscles’ but rather how the structure supports dynamic movement. Often the physical shift that comes from this intentional, refined work is transformative on an emotional level and can be a profound tool to move through ‘stuck’ places. Our experiences become us, and very literally shape who we are. Your posture is different when you feel joyous, fearful, confident or defeated. Experiencing uncomfortable feelings long term creates fascial patterns and hardening, just the same as physical repetitive motion injuries. Physically changing the structure that was created during times of trauma, creates the space to change our perspective, let go of limiting belief patterns and move into a new phase of being.
Remembering we are supported. This session addresses the medial line, from the inside of the foot to the pelvis. We continue to build support in the arches of the feet, stabilize the knees, and release holding patterns in the thighs and tailbone. Session 3 supports and releases the pelvis from below.
The front line. The soft belly of our being.
Session 5 releases the front of the pelvis and ribcage. Working with intention and sensitivity, we explore the deep muscles that make up the ‘front of our back’ – the psoas, iliacus and diaphragm. This directly effects the nerves, veins and arteries that run through the belly and our ability to relax, rest and recover. When the pelvis is balanced, the viscera and organs have the space and buoyancy to move into their natural locations which can have a dramatic effect on uterine, bladder and digestive health and function.
The Backline. We lengthen and soften the entire backline and establish a stable, dynamic pelvis. We will work with the hip rotators to ensure the femurs are properly aligned in the pelvis and that the hamstrings are not creating torsion. This session is the final piece in unlocking the ribcage from the pelvis, so both can move independently with ease and the upper body is fully supported from below.
The neck and head. The head is designed to sit atop a balanced structure. When there is imbalance below, we ‘grasp’ with our necks to keep the head upright, potentially causing chronic neck, shoulder and jaw pain. In a balanced structure viewed from the side, the ankle, knee, shoulders and ears all fall in a line. This session creates length in the front of the neck and chest, allowing the head to comfortably sit back, fully supported by the spine. We continue softening and separating the fascial lines of the shoulders, arms and upper back, releasing the base of the occiput and lower jaw. Intra-oral work further supports functional balance of the TMJ, sinuses and associated structures.
Optional Arm Session:
The Classic Ten Series was developed 100 years ago and our world has changed significantly. The last few decades have seen the need for more specific work in the arms, hands and neck, since much of our world involves computers, phones, driving and other tasks that pull our heads and shoulders forward. Some people benefit from an extra session before moving on to the Integrative Sessions.
Sessions 8-10 The Integrative Sessions:
The first 7 sessions work with specific facets of the body, essentially ‘taking it apart’ to lengthen, soften and improve flexibility. The Integrative Sessions ‘put you back together’, re-educating your nervous system and movements to integrate these changes.
Integrity of the structure. Session 8 assesses the global stability of the structure and unwinds any remaining imbalances. Ground into a new way of moving.
Function of the Structure. This session focuses on where movement initiates, and how to move efficiently. Find your natural grace and ease.
Session 10 brings us to completion. We move through every joint in the body, making sure it has freedom of movement and ease. You leave with the tools to maintain the ease, comfort and grace that the Ten Series creates.
I understand the Ten Series is not feasible for everyone. Using these principals, I can do shorter series to address specific goals, or individual sessions of fascial release.
Each session runs about 1 ½ hours, some a bit longer, some a bit shorter, depending on each session and your own body.
What to expect:
A Structural Integration session has many of the same components as a massage, but it’s different in several ways. In order to understand the work you need, I will observe you standing and walking, thus I don’t work with people fully disrobed. Occasionally during the sessions, I’ll have you get up off the table to assess how the work is affecting you and where we’ll move next. Please wear or bring loose athletic shorts, short bicycle style shorts or underwear you’re comfortable being observed in. For women a tank top with easily moveable straps (cami’s work great) or a tube top. The goal is for you to feel safe and comfortable while undraped (walking/standing/sitting for benchwork), but also have your clothing be loose and moveable enough that I can successfully work with your tissue.
Sports bras are not ideal, they’re usually too tight and restrict movement and access to the ribs, neck and shoulders.
How is it different from massage?
Structural Integration has a distinctly different intention, stroke dynamic, and directionality than massage. In many ways it feels the same as massage, but it leaves you feeling different.
With massage, my intent is to meet you where you are today with no plan or expectations, instead listening only for what your body is asking for. I love this work, it is of deep value to allow the body to be heard and respond accordingly.
With SI, my intent is to guide you toward a change you’ve been craving. We may not always work with the area that’s bothering you, instead focusing on how to support the entire structure.
Both massage and Structural Integration can be profound and healing. If you aren’t sure what’s right for you, call me and we can discuss it.
For a more in depth description of each session, visit the SOMA Institute’s website. While you’re there, check out the rest of the site, it’s rich in wonderful information about bodywork. I graduated from there in 2001, and the faculty and work they do are near and dear to my heart.
Session work – $145/session
I accept cash, check or paypal.