Dr. Ida Rolf spent her life exploring the healing possibilities held within the human mind and body.
Born in New York City and raised in the Bronx, Ida P. Rolf attended school in the NewYork area and graduated from Barnard College in 1916. In 1920, she graduated from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons with a doctorate in biological chemistry.
For the next 12 years, Dr. Rolf worked in the departments of chemotherapy and organic chemistry at the renowned Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, attaining the position of Associate Professor. No minor achievement for a female, in this era. During an extended leave of absence, she studied atomic physics and mathematics at the Swiss Technical University in Zurich and homeopathic medicine in Geneva.
Over the next decade, Dr. Rolf applied her knowledge of science and wellness to seek answers to the health concerns of her loved ones. Unwilling to accept the limitations of medicine at the time, Dr. Rolf embraced a wide range of approaches including osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, and mind-body disciplines such as yoga, the Alexander Technique, and Alfred H.S. Korzybski’s study of consciousness.
Bringing together such a rich variety of perspectives, Dr. Rolf discovered that she could achieve remarkable changes in posture and structure by manipulating the body’s myofascial system. Dr. Rolf eventually named her bodywork “Structural Integration” – a holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organizes the whole body in gravity.
Recipients found the work dramatically altered posture and structure. Increasingly, people sought out Dr. Rolf to receive Structural Integration as a way to ease pain, address chronic stress, and improve performance in their daily activities.
Her ambition to bring Structural Integration to as many people as possible took Dr. Rolf all over the world. Her desire was not simply to help others but to teach future generations the fruit of her life’s work. Dr. Rolf dedicated the rest of her life to developing and teaching the technique that was to later take her name.
Dr. Rolf envisioned Structural Integration as a bodywork that would address a wide range of persons and needs. There are currently 17 schools of Structural Integration recognized by the International Association of Structural Integrators®. At her death in 1979, Dr. Rolf left a dynamic legacy in a craft that is now practised by 4000 practitioners across the world. It is estimated that more than one million people have received Structural Integration.