“So, structural integration, eh? Um … what’s that?”
I get asked this a decent amount (as you might imagine), and often can’t answer in anything less than a ten-minute-long tirade about structure and function and the grand interconnectedness of the cosmos.
Thankfully for anyone seeking a shorter answer, I have been working on this one liner for awhile now: KMI Structural Integration is a powerful and system-oriented method of balancing the body, improving mobility and freeing stagnant, chronic pain. It is deep, lasting, significant bodywork.
Another, even simpler, description of what it’s all about could be making peace with gravity.
Let’s start with logistics: a Structural Integration series consists of 12 sessions, sometimes a bit more (in KMI, which is my particular school of SI; Rolfing® is an example of another). The work addresses freeing and balancing the whole of the body in an intelligent, progressive and holistic way. The vehicle for this change is the myofascia. That’s a clinical, though most accurate, term for your soft tissues, so including your muscles, your tendons and ligaments, and the ubiquitous net of fascia surrounding and investing your musculature, your guts, your nerves … everything, quite literally.
Also a big part of a series is a re-education of the body’s movement patterns. These patterns can deeply sustain our energy (think the eternal poise and alignment of the dancing Fred Astaire), or rob us of it (think the head-forward, shoulders-rolled-forward position of someone who’s spent way too much time in a cubicle).
It’s hands-on and movement-oriented, meaning my hands are helping to open, balance and re-integrate your tissue—you!—and your movement is a big part of that.
Goals of an SI series will vary from person to person (patients and practitioners alike), though a few overarching themes, and in general the things that KMI Structural Integration is exceptionally good at:
- Freedom from pain, especially chronic, stagnant pain (as opposed to the kind where you just sprained your ankle or something and it hurts now; this work would more address both the possible predisposition to and the implications following that sprain).
- More optimal ranges of motion, for couch potatoes and athletes alike.
- A better internal kinesthetic map, your felt sense of where you are, quite literally. This one is huge in its implications.
- Ability to discharge “stuck” thoughts and emotions, also called somato-emotional release. For some people, this part of their series is very profound; for others, less so.
- Increased vitality and adaptability in engaging with the gazillions of potential stressors that will continue to occur in your life, unless you’re planning on sitting in a cave for the rest of it (and even then …).
There are four noteworthy stages in a full 12-session series.
- Sessions one through four address opening the “sleeve” myofasciae (more superficial).
- Sessions four through eight address opening and balancing the “core” myofasciae (deeper, both anatomically and, in my experience, energetically).
- Sessions eight through 12 are the integration sessions of core and sleeve. These sessions fine-tune your daily movement, and the ability of your whole structure to move, and simply be, in concert.
- After session 12 … that’s it for your work with me, at least for a year or so when you may wish to come back for a tune up. Your integration will very much continue for months and even years after you’ve left my office. The closed-ended nature of this therapy is an important piece of this work and, as far as I know, unique to SI as a field.
It’s worth noting, I think, that while the above is a tidy summary of what happens over a series, generally speaking, it is of course not a conclusive summary. As in: your KMI Structural Integration series will very much unfold for you in a way that’s unique for you, your structure, your history, your goals … your life!
That’s what happens, to the best of my ability to articulate it. More detail here on KMI’s website if you’re interested.
And it’s much more than any of that. It’s kind of like saying coffee is a mildly bitter caffeinated beverage commonly drunk in the morning. While true, this would not begin to describe what it’s like holding a warm cup of java in your hands, the first sip, the mild caffeine rush, the associations you have with mornings like this … not to mention just the complexities of the taste. Or as a Zen teacher of mine in California used to say, “You can’t eat the menu.”
So while I could write ad nauseam about living in more aligned, freer body … it’s something else entirely to know that for yourself. In my experience, an SI series can be a really helpful tool in unearthing that alignment.
If you’re interested in directly experiencing a KMI Structural Integration series, feel free to send me a message, either with questions or comments, or to setup your initial appointment.
To being at home in your own skin, cheers, Liam