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A really good article about Yoga & Structural Integration Bodywork




            This article explains a little about Structural Integration Bodywork and gives 11 aspects of how getting the Structural Integration Bodywork has enabled yoga practitioners and experienced teachers do more in their yoga, and gotten more benefits from their yoga.
yoga practitioner testimonials explain this, and also tell how the Bodywork itself helped these practitioners in their daily lives, to remove short and long term pain, and to make their bodies work better
             The stretching tips article explains, from a Structural Integration Bodyworker's knowledge, why many people haven't been able to stretch as well as they want, even when they try hard, and gives tips on how to be able to stretch better.
             For more detailed information about Structural Integration Bodywork, including how to fix back pain, see the Free Articles Descriptive Menu, the list of many testimonials on the Home Page Menu, or try any of these.

Go to Intro to Structural Integration     Part 1    Part 2
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Go to Fixing Tightness & Backs, & Improving Mind & Body
Go to Summary of Testimonials in different Categories

Read the details about my
Structural Stretching & Energized Relaxation Video & Audio

I show you, and explain to you, how to do any system of stretching, including intensive yoga, very well, by being
able to lengthen the shortness in the fascia, all over the
body, including, "between" the joints.



by Lou Gross, School Certified Master Postural Integrator,
Body Structure & Bodymind Performance Specialist
A Resource for Body Professionals of all Kinds
27 years successful experience
For more information & free consultations, call 321-726-9083



What it is. Structural Integration Bodywork is a system of hands on treatments that manipulate the soft connective tissue that's underneath the dermis, or inner layer of our skin, and that also surrounds and goes through all our musclesThis tissue, called fascia, is fibrous and fluid, like putty, and it "bunches up" over time, through physical activity, including sports, and through emotional stress.  This accumulating shortness is why we often feel tighter and tighter in some areas of our bodies.

        Understanding "fascial bunch-up."  It's what we need to "stretch." The bunching up of the fascia shortens the available lengths of our muscles and also throws our body sections out of alignment with each other and with the continuous pull of gravity which we are under.
        Typically, the legs lean forward and the torso leans backward; then the head and neck jut forward.  So instead of the sections stacked one on top of the other, the parts zig-zag front to back and left to right.  When that happens, we are no longer balanced. Our weight isn’t standing on our hard bones.  Instead, we end up forcing our soft tissue, the muscles and their fascia, to support us.
        Because they’re going off on angles from a vertical stack, these misaligned parts are constantly being pulled down even further to the side by the downward pull of gravity.  To keep us standing up, the muscles all over the body must keep tight against all the other muscles to support each others’ weight.  That means everything must stay tight, interlocked with everything else that is tight. And then the soft fascial tissue will grow hard and thick and keep it all like this, all the time.

        Misalignment & Hardness - the limitations to stretching.  This hardness and the out of alignment sections makes stretching ourselves back out very difficult.   Yoga stretching does re-lengthen the fascia, and therefore our muscles, somewhat.  But usually, most people are too hard and out of line for it to stretch very effectively.  And it’s sometimes too hard to stretch at all; it won’t give way.

        Dr. Ida P. Rolf PhD (r), the developer of Structural Integration was a physiologist and biochemist, and had done yoga for many years.  It is one of the practices she drew on when she developed her Bodywork system.  Then she added.  If we can take the principles and understanding of Structural Integration "back" into yoga, we can make more people's yoga practice more effective.
           For one thing, yoga stretches as mostly taught today are not designed around the inter-relationships of the body's different segments
So when a person's tissue is hard and the sections are out of line, the tightness in one part of the body prevents a stretch "giving way" in other parts.  In addition, the "sacks" or "envelopes" of fascia surrounding all the muscle fibers in each muscle seem to glue onto one another.  So, when trying to stretch one muscle, other adjacent ones hold it back.

        Another common problem is that most people stretch to loosen their joints.  This is half the goal.  Lengthening the soft tissue in the sets of muscles between the joints adds a much greater range of muscle movement, and an even greater range of motion and looseness at the joints.  This improved stretching increases arm and shoulder reach, and leg stride, and it even increases our muscles’ power and our overall agility.
        I have developed (and have on Video) what I call a Structural, Fascial Re-Lengthening Stretching method that teaches people how to lengthen fascia through the bellies of muscles, to spread or separate one muscle from another, and to lengthen whole sections so the interconnected muscle groups give way to each other and the body's misalignments are reduced.  I explain what we are doing, why to do it, and demonstrate doing it.
        I use the Bodywork hands-on steps as a model for some stretches and show how to do a series of yoga stretches to get longer and easier stretching than is usually taught in the yoga classes. 
        From this technique, people have been able to do their yoga classes better, easier, and with greater stretching results.
One yoga teacher actually said, "This is how yoga should be taught."


        The Structural Integration approach.  Here is what Dr Rolf (r) did.  Her Structural Integration Bodywork manipulations were anatomically designed by her, as I said, a physiologist who also studied yoga and even some osteopathy. And she made the system to lengthen and balance the various muscle groups and bones of the body so that all the sections would be aligned and stacked vertically, in balance.  Plus, the muscle sacks would be separated, and the tissue would become much more malleable and stretchable.


        Therefore, being more Structurally Integrated, through the Bodywork process, enhances yoga practice in the following ways.


        1.)  Stretching is much easier, and it goes farther, because the fascia is softer and more malleable, and there is more differentiation between muscles since we’ve separated one muscle sack from another.  The bodywork also works the deeper muscles, the muscle attachments, and the small muscles between the ribs, in the face and head, and the hands and feet.  A major head fascial-bodywork release makes the entire spine stretch better.  So more areas "join into the stretch" of your arms, legs and torso.

        2.)  Yoga is about alignment.  This kind of Bodywork actually re-aligns your bones and muscles toward their optimal inter-relationshipThis enables stretching and other yoga benefits to improve the whole body system better.  When you stretch one part, all your parts from head and hand to toe will join in the stretch.  We get longer, and easier, stretches. This, combined with the improved consistency of fascia and muscles, gives better alignment results from your asanas.

        3.) This alignment and tissue softening helps to prevent injuries and discomfort.  It prevents a lot of “stretching caused injuries” that happen when people try to pull a local part and the tight parts elsewhere hold it tight.  This helps prevent back problems that many people get when they try to stretch.  This improvement also prevents vertebrae from being pulled out when you try to stretch the legs and pelvis, and it prevents pulled tendons and ligaments in places like the knees.  Glitches and "stops" people often feel in their thighs and shoulders are also minimized or eliminated.  These kinds of local tight spots are common from both auto accidents and workouts such as weight lifting, running and intense walking or cycling.

        4.)  Yoga is about improving our mind-body inter-connectionPeople who have had Structural Integration gain better mental awareness of their bodies and more graceful control of their movements.  Also, the way the inner and outer muscles move together with the bones becomes naturally more coordinated. 
         This is because the Structural Integration "System" was designed with the inherent bio-mechanical function of the body in mind.  Its system of muscle group manipulations un-freezes the accumulated tightness that’s been distorting this function, and then it integrates all the parts together.  This makes the inner initiating and balancing muscles work better with the bigger external doing muscles.  And softening the hard fascia makes both motor and sensory nerves patterns work better because they’re working with a more differentiated and integrated muscle system.

        5.)  Yoga emphasizes the breath, for both physical and meditative/awareness benefits.  After Structural Integration Bodywork, even from just the first few hours, breathing is significantly fuller, deeper and easier because the treatment lengthens and opens all the muscles associated with the rib cage and their connections to the rest of the body, including the diaphragm and inter-costals between the ribs.  Then, when you stretch the legs and arms as well as your torso, breathing capacity opens up easier and faster.

        6.)  Yoga is about health.  Not just a stretching exercise, yoga is a method to balance and tonify the physiology of the body.  The fascia of the muscles contains the blood capillaries and lymph ducts that nourish and remove waste from every cell.  And in the fluid of the fascia we also have lots of immune cells.  Softening and lengthening the hardened fascia that we all get, creates a better fluid flow between the cells and these blood and lymph vessels.  So that improves the body's nourishment and elimination processes at a cell level, and it makes a clearer, bigger pathway for its immune cells to work in.

        People who get regular massages know of this benefit, especially in the big outer tissues of their bodies where they get worked on.  This more penetrating kind of Bodywork also brings these benefits into the much deeper tissues, all the way down to the bones.  And since it is a method of fascial “spreading” through “every” muscle section, it even accesses areas like deep in the abdomen, and deep in the thighs and pelvis that aren't otherwise reached nor "spread" and softened, even with deep massage.

        7.)  This can help people lose weight.  The fascia also contains lots of fat cells.  It's difficult to lose fat when the fascia is hard because there's not as much blood flow accessing this fatty tissue. There’s not much metabolic “avenue” to dissolve it away
        Softening the fascia through the muscles and in the superficial layer over the whole body makes it easier, and faster, to use up the fat cells into the body's metabolism.  In fact, more blood vessels can grow in this now softer, more fluid tissue.  Nutritional techniques are therefore more effective.

        8.)  Chi (or Ki) energy flow is better...not only because the blood flow and breathing are improved, but also because the channels of energy that flow through the acupuncture meridians and circulate in the Chakra energy centers are also freed up This improves physical health and breath meditation benefits.  And it makes these energy flow increases from the yoga class do more, every time.

        9.)  The Bodywork helps us know more about what the asanas are doing for us.  The treatment greatly increases “mind into body” sensing abilities.  So when we direct our attention to a part of the body we’re stretching, we get an increase in our sensory awareness about what’s happening there.  We get better mental information; there’s more of it, it’s more complete, it comes to mind easier, and it’s even more articulately described. And we get emotional and physiological information, as well as structural.

        In addition, the experience of being Structurally Integrated allows us to understand how the different parts of our bodies affect each other.  When we're frozen tight in the form of hard connective tissue, that's the only physical positioning we can have.  As our bodies are loosened and lengthened, especially into the deeper layers, we then have the ability to tighten our muscles to compare different short positions to our new opened and aligned position.
        I always explain to my clients, for example, how the tightness in their legs and abdomen creates lower back tightness, and even pain and injury, and how tightness in the arms, head and belly, create upper back, shoulder and neck tightness.  For a lot of people, this takes the mystery, frustration, and even hopelessness out of problems they're having with their backs and other areas.
  Yoga helps us increase our emotional centeredness and maturity.  The Bodywork itself actually improves the frequency of the muscle-fascia tissue, it improves the strength and clear-ness of the body's energy field, and it increases many parts of our physiology & metabolism. 
All these improve our emotional, psychological and even mental qualities, immediately right in the session.

        11.)  Yoga also helps us develop peace of mind and improved spiritual awareness. The Bodywork goes a long way in supporting this, as it removes old stressful energies and trauma out of the tissues. Getting the Bodywork helps yoga do more of this, too.  Old memories of trauma and pain are actually stored in our bodies, within the tissues that are short and tight.  These memories repeatedly keep giving us the same old patterns and tapes of behavior. Even when we develop a stronger emotional center of balance, these tapes keep popping up...because they're real energies that got stored inside us during past traumatic experiences.
        The change in tissue consistency, the improvement in our energy field, and the removal of these old, polluting emotional traumas, all greatly increase our ability to sense and understand others, and ourselves.  And it helps meditation do a lot more.
Meditators' Testimonials
Meditation Benefits Body & Mind Program

        The Bodywork manipulations remove a lot of these old memory energy-packets, and people usually report feeling more open and calmer mentally as well as physically.       
          The physical forms of our body
, such as strained up or collapsed down, and even held tight and contracted, are also formed by patterns of conditioning, going all the way back through birth and pre-natal experiences.  When we become more Structurally Integrated, we also stand more erect and balanced, without strain, and we’re more open.  And our mental and emotional attitudes reflect this.

          I, myself, am trained and experienced in “unconcious mind” emotional release therapies.  These not only release trauma from the body that Bodywork alone does not do, but they also remove trapped unconscious belief systems that have been stored inside these energy packets in the body, often for years.
        We can "dissolve" and remove these embedded belief systems along with their traumatic, chaotic energies.  With a special technique in which we use our conscious awareness minds, we can erase the information, and at the same time, we become very aware of what happened and how it caused us this conditioned behavior.  This clearing process also increases and deepens our powers of awareness and concentration.

          This allows people to break the repetitive cycle of their old tapes and addictive patterns.  It also removes a lot of the energies that keep forcing us back into the same old physical tightnesses, that even keep repeating between massages. 
        When we get cleared like this, all our positive mental techniques and energy centering practices work better.  They're no longer battling against the old conditioning since that material is no longer stuck in our body-minds.  In addition, I am also an ordained Zen Buddhist Monk, and that gives me a deep spiritual perception into people's body and mind connections.  In fact, this is part of the context within which I do my work.

        11.)  Yoga helps us increase our emotional centeredness and maturity.  The Bodywork itself actually improves the frequency of the muscle-fascia tissue, it improves the strength and clear-ness of the body's energy field, and it increases many parts of our physiology & metabolism.  All these improve our emotional, psychological and even mental qualities, immediately right in the session.


        Conclusion, and where to find practitioners.  Thus, Structural Integration Bodywork directly helps yoga practice in a number of ways.  And it also enables other kinds of body-mind therapies do even more for us, including massage, chiropractic and acupuncture.  So that increases their benefits for yoga practice, too.

        The original system of this Bodywork, developed by physiologist and biochemist Ida P. Rolf PhD, became colloquially known as Rolfing.  Rolfing developed a bad reputation for being very painful and emotionally traumatic because of the way the physical manipulations were, or are still, applied.  But since the initial development of the bodywork system, a number of schools and individual practitioners have developed non-traumatic and non-painful ways of doing the manipulations, including taking into account how the person's mind works along with the body tissue releasing.

        I, myself, was originally trained in Postural Integration (P.I.), which combines Reichian and Bioenergetic techniques, Gestalt and Acupressure with Structural Integration.  I have also been trained in the release therapy I mentioned, and in acupressure, kinesiology, energy balancing and other body and bodymind methods.  I use them, along with my very adept psychic and intuitive skills, to make my bodywork and release practices work much better.

        P.I. also includes some movement education techniques. A training called Movement Enhancement includes this to a large degree and Hellerwork includes it to some degree. The Rolf Institute also trains people in another course, specifically for in-depth movement education.  You can find the names of some practitioners on the internet, on health food store bulletin boards, in various New Age periodicals and at New Age trade shows.  You can also write, call or e-mail the different schools to find the names of practitioners in your area.
        I travel by plane or car to people's homes and practitioners' clinics, and know how to do many hours of Bodywork and Body-Mind therapies in just one or two weeks time.
          I also offer a program of in-depth consultations on the phone and by e-mail, to give people analysis and support in Bodywork, Nutrition, Self-Help stretching, Emotional clearing and even Personal and Professional development, while they look for, and then work with, a Structural Integration Bodyworker in their own area.
Written, explanatory documents are also provided.

          Personal and Professional Development programs include my "Successful Directions" analysis techniques and a host of my management and interpersonal-spiritual practice skills.  And I offer free in-depth phone consultations about how this, too, can help you. 

 A free body structure analysis and a self-help stretch, or stretching "method," session is included in the free initial phone contact.


About the Author.  Lou Ryoshin Gross has been a Postural Integration practitioner since 1982, and massaged friends and clients for 11 years before that.  He began practicing Zen breath concentration meditation in 1969 and has practiced yoga in various systems along with some Tai Chi.  He has over 2000 hours specialized training in bodywork and body-mind therapies and has been in practice for over 20 years.  He is also trained and very experienced in natural health and diet methods that can make the Structural Health better and enable the bodywork do do more.

            Because Lou is an electrical engineer who did computer design and development work on the space shuttle and commercial communications products, he approaches the Bodywork, Body-mind therapy, Natural Health and these analysis techniques in a very thorough, scientific way, and specially in a systematic way so they all work together for you.  He has also been a program manager in both engineering and small businesses.  So he knows how to integrate what he does with what you already know and do, so you can get the most out of everything.  All his methods have been tested, developed many years ago by experts in their own fields, and he, himself, has many thousands of hours experience helping people with them.


You can reach his 24 hr voice mail anytime at 1-321-726-9083.
Consultations are readily available.  Just ask.


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Structural Stretching & Energized Relaxation - Tapes that help relaxation and flexibility, body-mind awareness and concentration ability, and even stretching technique.  Relaxation tape is great to play while getting a massage or going to sleep.  The Structural Stretching positions can easily be done in dress clothes at work as well as in the gym.  I've found they add to what people do in yoga classes.  They are also easy enough for seniors to do.

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