|Company Name : Institute for Structural Integration
|Contact Name : John Latz
|Company Logo :
|Location : 7700 Center Bay Dr North Bay Village FL 33141 United States
|Website : http://www.johnlatz.com
|Year Established : 1992
|Credentials : Certified Advanced Rolfer™ Reiki Master Approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage And Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a Continuing Education Provider under Category A.
John Latz developed the Connective Tissue Massage course in 1989 and in 1992 founded The Institute for Structural Integration (ISI). He was certified in 1985 by the Rolf Institute and received their advanced certification in 1987. In addition he is a Reiki Master, having taught this form of energetic healing for the last 35 years to over 5,000 people throughout the United States.
John brings exceptional qualities of integrity, sensitivity and awareness to his work. His teaching is characterised by clarity and a deep intuitive understanding of bodywork and reflects the personal balance he exhibits in his own life. His mastery of touching fascial layers is renowned and his ability to teach that special gift to his students is unsurpassed.
The mission of the Institute for Structural Integration (ISI) is to provide continuing education for massage therapists and bodyworkers in the Ida P. Rolf method of Structural Integration, a process of profound personal transformation. The school is dedicated to teaching Dr. Rolf's principles, including her three main premises:
Through these principles the Institute for Structural Integration is committed to helping serve the community through dedicated practitioners who embody Ida P. Rolf's vision of integrating body, mind and spirit.
John Latz has dedicated himself to maintaining the integrity of Ida Rolf's work as well as integrating Structural Integration in all areas of his life.
About John LatzJohn Latz graduated from the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration® in 1985, and was later certified Advanced. He is the founder of The Institute for Structural Integration (ISI) in Miami, Florida and has been practicing and teaching Reiki for the past 30 years. John utilizes Reiki in his SI practice and teaches Reiki to all SI students in his school, considering it an invaluable tool in the practice of Structural Integration.AbstractIn this paper, the author offers thoughts and experiences gathered from years of utilizing Reiki in his SI practice, and he suggests that the incorporation of Reiki or similar types of energy work into SI work might bring us closer to working with the energetic finesse and efficacy that were signatures of Ida Rolf’s work.Reiki Initiation and Structural Integration TrainingThirty years ago, I encountered a fascinating system of energy healing called Reiki. Japanese in origin, it is a practice of receiving, channeling, and giving life-force energy to create balance and healing in any living thing.During my first degree Reiki initiation, I felt myself receiving an infusion of energy from my teacher into my being. It felt as though my crown chakra opened and light poured in. My hands immediately became fiery hot and electric. My mind’s eye opened and I perceived memories, visions, and people, like a moving picture, complete with sights and sounds from a distant time and place. Simultaneously, my heart expanded with light and I was filled with joy. The experience changed my life, leading me into healing work and to studying other personal transformational techniques like Structural Integration.In 1985, I trained at the Rolf Institute®. Because of my prior experience with Reiki, my awareness of my energy body allowed me to readily process and understand the energetic aspects of the Structural Integration training. Each time I received SI sessions from my teacher, I was able to discern and take in his quality of touch, intention, and energetic presence, transforming my mind/body and subsequently my own work. Reiki provided me with an energetic framework through which I was able to receive and learn SI. It was as if the energetic filter of Reiki granted me a tactile reference for how the structure of the body might change via the application of light energy. Quickly it became easy for me to match my teacher’s structural results; the Reiki helped me learn SI at an accelerated rate.Over years of practicing and teaching SI, I have often wondered about Ida Rolf’s mastery of using subtle energy in her own work. There are countless testimonials to this effect, although she rarely spoke about it or taught what she knew. One such testimonial comes from Fritz Smith, who described her touch as having a bolus of energy ahead of her physical pressure, making her contact a painless experience.1 Another example comes from Al Drucker who relates his experience of an instance during which Ida and her son worked together on his ribcage. He describes how her son’s work felt like being attacked by a shark, while Ida’s touch felt like making love.2 Clearly, her command of the energetics of Structural Integration was one of her many gifts.I have come to believe that should one desire to work like Ida Rolf, Reiki is the quintessential tool that will help any SI practitioner achieve that goal. At my school, The Institute for Structural Integration, Reiki is taught as part of the curriculum. I teach the concept of the body as a “light energy body.” Although no scientific proof yet validates this concept, there exists a mountain of anecdotal evidence confirming Reiki’s effects. Similarly, in SI we often speak of our ‘core’ opening, or of the experience of coming onto our Line, as if ‘core’ and ‘line’ had a demonstrable physical reality. Our inner perception becomes our validation that the line and core are more than mere abstractions.Tracking Structural Change Through Inner PerceptionAs Structural Integrators, we understand that honoring and attending to inner perception can be a useful way to track and process the changes that are taking place during a Structural Integration session. I want to share in this next section my personal experiences, woven together with the experiences and perceptions of some of my students, so that you can consider perspectives from both givers and receivers of this style of Reiki-infused SI. In so doing, I wish to demonstrate that the practice of Reiki in the context of SI can help facilitate structural change.The first-hand accounts of five ISI students were recorded from dictation, as they shared orally excerpts from their journals and notes taken in a classroom setting. (Their names appear in the endnotes of this paper.) Subjective experience is often under-valued in a science-infused culture, but as a Structural Integrator and teacher of SI, I place great value in the subjective perception of structural change and energetic shift. Jason Goodbrake and I compiled these students’ accounts of their perceptions because we believe they may shed light for other SI practitioners on how energetic work enhances SI. Readers who may be skeptical about the idea of using Reiki in conjunction with SI work may find something within these personal accounts that resonates with the reader’s own memory log of profound SI experiences; this collage of perceptions may validate the usefulness of energy work in the context of SI.The first quality that Reiki imparts to an SI session is that of making available much more life-force energy. This energy increases the overall vitality of the client and directly flows into the fascial body, helping it to reorganize. It is like opening floodgates of healing light energy. Dr. Rolf told us that bodies need energy to establish a more ordered structure, and Reiki augments the kinetic force and physical energy we apply with our hands, knuckles, or elbows. It allows for faster and more readily integrated changes. When I apply Reiki as a complementary addition of energy into the body, I get more done with better results. One student reported, “As my session began, John’s initial touch penetrated with heat which spread through my entire body like a surge of calm electrical energy. This familiar Reiki sensation filled me with vitality and within seconds I felt my fascia changing, allowing space and length to occupy my whole body. It was as if the Reiki initiated the fascial lengthening in my body and then John’s contact and physical force completed the work.”3Using Reiki in an SI session helps me work deeper with less physical effort. The emanation of light energy through my hands flows into and penetrates my client’s body. Unlike my physical touch it is neither blocked by fascial restrictions nor perceived as invasive or painful by my client. This enables me to create changes in the core of the body. For example, in a first hour of the ten series, though my physical touch remains appropriately superficial, my energetic contact can go deep into the core with no extra physical effort on my part. Reiki then becomes my intention, but rather than just a thought or visualization, it is a direct current of light energy entering the body. “In spite of where John is in the body, or what he happens to be doing to accomplish structural change (working with palm, knuckles, forearm etc.), I virtually never find his touch painful. The noninvasive presence of Reiki energy precedes, enhances and evolves his physical contact. Rather than jarring or intrusive, as many people have claimed to experience SI, my body seems to interpret even the most intense moments of John's contact as a palpable invitation to open and release. This is particularly true even in areas that most of us would consider particularly edgy to work upon. Think: the lateral edge of the pubic bone, up and into the pelvis, in the throat or mouth, or along the front of the spine.”4Reiki light energy emanates out from the body as well, not just the hands, thereby increasing the size and intensity of the practitioner’s energy field. The more Reiki flows through a practitioner, the stronger the field becomes. I use specific advanced techniques in Reiki to maximize the current of energy while I am working, consequently enveloping with light the client, table, and occasionally the entire room where I am working. Numerous students observing my sessions have commented on the phenomena. “In class we often talk about ‘holding the field’. In this exercise, students and assistants who are observing a session, whether they are sitting or standing, will ‘work their line.’ We feel that this strengthens the subtle energetic field generated by the practitioner at work, who is in turn ordering the field of the client to the larger field of the earth. In observing John do a 5th hour, I remember feeling the energy, the Reiki, in the field grow suddenly very thick at the edges of a physical/emotional release. I backed out and away from the intensity of the energy, only to realize moments later that the field, as I perceived it, was expanding to fill what felt like the entire room. Though a subjective experience, it has seemed both repeatable and widely experienced. In discussing this post-session, John explained one of many ways in which he utilizes Reiki while working to strengthen the field.”5Seeing is clearly one of the most important skills in SI, and using Reiki expands our abilities in this arena as well. The sensations of heat, light, and increased sensitivity I feel in my hands when touching my client with Reiki gives me an enhanced tactile awareness. I readily sense what is underneath my hands and immediately see it in my mind’s eye. My perception becomes an interplay of various perspectives; as Reiki energy flows from my hands into the body of my client, my senses register depth, core/sleeve spatial dimension in the body, and extant fascial/boney rotations. It is like shining a floodlight from my hands deep into the body, revealing it’s three-dimensional landscape within the context of our work. When I stand my client up to survey the newly established structural relationship in the gravity field, my eyes retain this tactile sight. I see more clearly with both my hands and my eyes.Additionally, the seeing experience also applies to the fascial planes, tissue layers, and the fascial web in general. My heightened sensitivity to the fascial system via Reiki energy allows me to more accurately and precisely pull upon the fascial web, feel its elasticity, and identify the direction, intensity, and mechanical leverage I need to create ordered length in the body. It is also a tremendous support in cultivating the client’s own bodily awareness—directed appropriately, the Reiki energy enables the client to better ‘see’ within themselves. “Having received work from John numerous times, I have noticed many things about his quality of touch. One aspect that I frequently remark upon is how I feel as though, in preparing for a stroke, he is 'scanning' my body for information. This feels entirely different than simple palpation. When John lays his hands on me, making initial contact, I immediately perceive penetrating warmth and a tangible degree of intelligence in the gesture. As he waits, a matter of seconds, before choosing a manipulation or discerning how he will unravel a particular twist or adhesion, I can sometimes also perceive what seem to be rushes of sensation— electricity, tingling, or soothing coolness—moving through both tissue and bone, and ‘shining a light’ on its various twists and turns. When John is working at deep layers of my structure I often feel him pause and send this same warmth, questing, out into my structure ahead of his decision to move—discerning the pathway which will give him the greatest amount of change or openness, or the precise angle of contact which will enable him to take any number of ‘handles’ by which to effect transformation. We call this the "sonar". John has explained that Reiki is a constant and quintessential tool of our touch—that when he is palpating, he is really using Reiki to "see" and gather information about the client's body. This makes his touch exponentially more comprehensive. I feel as though the Reiki is allowing him to access so much more than the small amount of tissue under his hands. I feel as though he is, each time he applies this energy, accessing the completeness of a pattern, and often continually gathering information pertaining to the whole of my structure.”6“Reiki as a tool for body awareness is an invaluable gift to the receiver. I have felt varying degrees of its use during SI. Sometimes I have perceived specific intentions of clarity as John worked, dissolving blockages and enlivening obstructive tissues. At other times the light energy simply seems to define my body from the inside out in a much broader way that allows me to see inside of myself. I imagine the experience as something akin to lying in a magician’s magic box—where vectors of Reiki light pierce my structure and refract off of my body’s internal mirrors. This light illuminates my structure and clearly reveals the myriad ways in which I might constructively meet John’s touch and achieve varying degrees of length and space within myself. It helps me participate fully in the work.”7"I remember my first experience receiving Structural Integration with John. Having found SI work very intense in the past, I was somewhat apprehensive—yet as the session began, John placed his hands upon my ribcage and my concerns were gracefully put to rest. Upon contact I perceived an all-encompassing warmth and presence. To my delighted surprise, my tissue actually seemed to welcome his touch. In fact, it felt as though my whole body was slowly melting and reshaping around his fingers. There was little discomfort and almost no palpable resistance in my body. What's more, I found myself able to meet the powerful contact from within myself and participate very fully in the session—a very energetically rich experience. I remember feeling as though John had some sort of 'spotlight' turned on that was capable of searching out and illuminating deeply buried, tangled tissue. I now know that each of these sensations, and particularly that amazing 'spotlight', are John's highly refined use of Reiki."8The “Reiki sight” also can be utilized to see or create energetic/structural lines in the body. When I want to instill the Line in the body, I direct the light energy specifically as a pinpoint laser, channeling that luminous line along the front of the spine and through the top of the head. Another example of this particular function of Reiki is in the seventh hour, during which I instill the laser light energy from the top of the head down through the body. While working the upper palate of the mouth, I can also direct the line through the top of the head, or change my vector and direct the Reiki energy to any part of the cranium to create structural change. “In a 2nd Hour, John was working with my foot, ankle, and heel. As the work started, I felt the initial pressure of his contact abruptly suffused with enveloping heat. This graceful trickle of Reiki energy rapidly saturated the heavy, sleeve musculature of my leg during the course of the manipulation. As it did so, I noticed the tension in my leg dissolving as the limb took on new order and found a more integrated relationship to my pelvis. When John cued me to intend length I suddenly felt, with remarkable clarity and precision, the physical sensation of a hot, laser-like line of light shooting right up through the core interosseous space of my leg, from foot into ileum, enlivening the innermost tissues. The limb subsequently melted into compliance with the deep suggestion and began to order itself deeply around this line.”9Up to now, I have described Reiki as light-energy, a kind of highly refined electricity. It also behaves as an electromagnetic force. My experience with using it indicates that the stronger the flow of Reiki, the more I feel a magnetic charge through my hands. I make use of this magnetism while evoking the body’s openness from the core, which has its own magnetic resonance. I use Reiki magnetic energy to literally pull on the core space and structure of the body, expanding it into a more open state. Another significant result of this magnetic opening is the virtual elimination of any compressive force from my hands. That is, Reiki enables me to sink into the body without compressing it or making it smaller in dimension. The result of this dynamic magnetic touch is a longer, more open structure that can more easily take up space. “A demonstrably repeatable phenomenon: While I am lying in side position, John evokes span, space, and integration in and around the 12th rib. It is a puzzling, amazing sensation. As John makes contact the strong pressure enters the body and his fingers twine into the fascial matrix, hooking deeply. Then things palpably shift. As John’s physical pressure appears to rapidly leave the body, I experience the warm, powerful pull of Reiki energy. This pull spreads throughout my surrounding structure and it feels as though my core space inside of my ribs and along the front of my spine has been caught up in a strong magnet. This powerfully energetic contact seems to tangibly magnetize my core and draw it out to meet John’s intent—the 12th rib mysteriously and dramatically breathes back and fills out with tremendous ease. Span and length manifest with the rushing sensation of air filling a vacuum. My body vibrates with quiet joy.”10This energetic/magnetic quality of touch assists me in using the two-way operator in my sessions. A staple of Structural Integration work, the two-way operator demands an acute awareness of the energetic connection between my hands as I work. Reiki intensifies that awareness for me, allowing my physical contact to easily access the core of my client’s body. Since I use the two-way operator in every session virtually everywhere in the body, Reiki gives me a distinct advantage in creating dynamic core changes throughout the body. “John is working on my lower leg while I lie face up. One hand begins to sink into the calf while the other rests atop my shin, cradling the tibia and guiding the leg into the hand beneath. As the top hand makes this contact, a relationship begins to form between the two hands – there is a palpable sense of Reiki energetic connection. Though John’s hands work with apparent ease on the outer aspect of my leg, creating a template for order, the dynamic energetic relationship between his hands seems to rapidly intensify and contact straight into my core. This feeling is wholly enjoyable and fascinating. Rather than feel any particular motion, I simply feel as though the innermost space of my leg is being warmed through and saturated with light, and then as if drinking of that warmth, it expands outward to meet the physical contact—my core expands outward to fill the framework created by the two-way operator. When I stand for assessment, the leg feels light, strong and radiantly supple.”11The Reiki magnetic resonance also helps me ground very effectively. As I direct the Reiki energy through my own core structure, the current I thereby generate connects me unshakably into the earth’s core energy. This energetic merging between my core and the earth’s core reinforce one other, helping to create a stronger self-sustaining energy field. When this occurs I notice the force and power of my touch are amplified, allowing me to create more substantial changes for my clients. Dr. Rolf spoke about this phenomenon as being a primary goal of Structural integration, “Here we must see man as an energy field, rather than as a mass of matter; a field which lives within a greater energy field, the field of the earth.”12“I am giving a 1st Hour. Settled comfortably into my body mechanics, I contact the client’s ribcage. They report feeling my contact spreading into their ribs along the front of their body and down into their abdomen, gentle and sure. Taking a breath, I begin the intentional practice of running Reiki through the core of my own structure, warming and relaxing it—spanning throughout—and immediately the power and quality of my contact exponentially improves. As the Reiki opens and grounds my structure, my feet and heels feel magnetically pulled into the floor towards the earth and I become filled with a thrilling sense of being peacefully suspended within gravity. I become a field contacting another field, all suspended within the larger field of the Earth. This takes no more time than it takes to breathe and shift my intention, and the client immediately reports to me that they feel as though I have just painlessly ramped up to full power. They rapidly perceive my same contact now coursing throughout their structure, feeling it penetrating as warmth and structural shift throughout their back and even trickling out into their arms.”13Reiki energy utilized in an SI session can also be felt as a transmission of peace. Reiki, like meditation, is deeply relaxing. Without any effort or concentration, the light energy flowing through my hands soothes and disarms my client’s tension and defenses throughout the session. Reiki has a way of “taking the edge off” of an intense SI release and engendering client trust. This is exactly what Ida Rolf was capable of during her work. “Most recently, while John was picking at the fascia along my mandible, beneath my chin, I noticed that while a great deal of structural change was taking place I nonetheless felt no discomfort. This is a very small, vulnerable area that can easily become nervy or frightening. John's contact simply seemed to cradle the area, and subsequently caused the residual tension in my jaw, neck and cranium to melt away. How unexpected a place! Amidst powerful, spreading sensations of reorganization, the rest of my structure swiftly fell into line and it soon felt as though the whole right side of my body was widening from cranium to pelvis. Also recently, when working a particularly dense and restricted layer in my arm with his own forearm and elbow, potentially compressive contact, I noted that though I was certain I might perceive discomfort from so much pressure near the elbow, his touch seemed to nestle right into a secret door. The contact very suddenly reminded me of being very gently taken by the shoulder and asked to ‘wake up’. In spite of his being suddenly quite deeply within my forearm between the bones, the layer itself responded to this ‘dialogue’ by promptly doing just that and letting go. I experienced spreading warmth and the feeling of my arm "breathing" wide as space occurred between the bones. Easy as that. This quality of enveloping gentleness, attributed to Reiki in his contact, makes it the most powerful and effective bodywork I've ever received.”14Recognizing and releasing trauma from the body are crucial components of our Structural Integration work. Much creative attention has been focused on this topic within our profession. Reiki adds an important dimension to that process. I utilize Reiki to help me feel and identify blockages of energy in the body, which sometimes indicate trauma. The Reiki often helps the clients feel, remember, and identify past physical or emotional traumas. Reiki also uniquely releases and transmutes the energy of the trauma without any effort on my part. The Reiki energy seems to have an innate intelligence to it, always bringing people back to balance and wholeness. “In my 4th Hour, I recall experiencing a good deal of apprehension each time John’s contact came near to my pelvis. I was certain that the work would be painfully intense and memories from childhood were stirring in the background – it seemed certain to be a loaded area. Before I had the time to unravel the skein of my thoughts, John was working right up into my pelvis and it all came to the fore. I remember being shocked at the power of the initial contact, and even as I became afraid within the context of the mounting intensity, I became simultaneously aware of the unique nature of John’s touch. I felt as though a tremendous amount of energy was vigorously being added to the trauma at my pelvis, and contained within that energy was the vibration of love. This touched me through my fear and the intensity, and I swiftly experienced the beginnings of fascial release of a large amount of tension. Within the powerful flood of energy, the intensity smoothly receded and I felt with increasing certainty that I was quite safe. Though tears were leaking from my eyes as the memories integrated with the release occurring in my body, they were tears of relief and gratitude. I carry the results of that session with me even today. Having experienced many kinds of energy work in varying contexts, I feel strongly that the marriage of intentional energy work with the deeply nourishing practice of Structural Integration is an unmistakable match.”15Over the years, experiences related to me by students, clients, and friends alike have served to validate the evolution of my practice in this direction. In this article I have spoken singularly of Reiki—yet in my continued search to access more healing light energy and develop personal wholeness, I have been lead to experience many different methods of energy-based healing. Primarily, I have been led to Joao de Deus, affectionately known as “John of God,” a Brazilian full-trance medium who channels healing spirits. Multiple times in the last seven years, I have traveled to Brazil and received his spiritual guidance and intervention. He and the spiritual entities he channels performed physical surgeries on my body, at one time cutting into me with a scalpel, and on another occasion inserting surgical scissors deep into my nose, without anesthetic, but causing no pain. The channeled light energy entering into my being was extraordinary. I have received numerous other surgeries, ‘invisible’ or energetic surgeries where no physical contact was involved. During these experiences I felt the light enter into me, transmuting my body and altering my consciousness.These experiences with John of God continue to evolve and increase my capacity to work with Reiki, further transforming my SI practice. This nourishing light deeply guides and empowers my work. It is therefore my conclusion that the conscious use and direction of life-force energy during our Structural Integration. sessions suggests a tremendous potential. Perhaps harnessing this Reiki energy, or integrating other energetic techniques, could enable many SI practitioners to more closely approximate the powerful and gentle efficacy of Ida Rolf’s work, thus helping to carry forth her legacy. The author wishes to thank Carolyn Rush, Blake Prince, Ivette Pinela, Mary Alice Felder, and Jason Goodbrake, all students of ISI, who have contributed material from their personal notes and journals, and especially Jason Goodbrake for all his work in compiling their first-hand accounts and weaving them into the body of this article.Notes1 Feitis, R. and Schultz R. L., eds. Remembering Ida Rolf, Berkley, CA, North Atlantic Books, 1996, p.68.2 Feitis, R. and Schultz R. L., eds. Remembering Ida Rolf, Berkley, CA, North Atlantic Books, 1996, p.56.3 Prince, B. (as dictated from the student’s notes or journals to J. Goodbrake)4 Rush, C. (as dictated from the student’s notes or journals to J. Goodbrake)5 Ritter, S. (as dictated from the student’s notes or journals to J. Goodbrake)6 Goodbrake, J. (transcribed from personal notes or journals)7 Pinela, I. (as dictated from the student’s notes or journals to J. Goodbrake)8 Felder, M.A. (as dictated from the student’s notes or journals to J. Goodbrake)9 Goodbrake, J. (transcribed from personal notes or journals)10 Prince, B. (as dictated from the student’s notes or journals to J. Goodbrake)11 Goodbrake, J. (transcribed from personal notes or journals)12 Rolf, I.P. “Structure—A New Factor in Understanding the Human Condition,” presented at “Explorers of Humankind” conference, June 10, 1978, p. 5.13 Pinela, I. (as dictated from the student’s notes or journals to J. Goodbrake)14 Rush, C. (as dictated from the student’s notes or journals to J. Goodbrake)15 Goodbrake, J. (transcribed from personal notes or journals)Link to original article.Read More
Skillful manipulation of fascia is an effortless art — at least, it can be. Throughout my 20-year career in bodywork, I've seen that true fascial artistry lies in appropriate body mechanics. This is the basis for Connective Tissue Massage (CTM), a system I developed and now teach to massage practitioners and other health care providers. Elegant in its simplicity, CTM allows every stroke to be delivered with power, efficiency and ease. I first became intrigued with fascial work early in my training when I heard accounts of dramatic changes reported by recipients of Ida P. Rolf's method of Structural Integration. Curiosity compelled me to receive the 10-session series myself, an amazing and landmark experience. Structural Integration was far more dynamic than any other bodywork I'd received, and I'd never felt myself respond and change so profoundly. My chronic tension was relieved, my energy increased and I achieved a greater sense of self-awareness and empowerment. As a result, I came to believe that fascial manipulation is the most powerful and effective means of bodywork. This led me to the Rolf Institute, where I began training in 1985. However, I didn't "come into my own" until a year after graduating when I studied with Emmett Hutchins, one of the first practitioners chosen by Dr. Rolf to teach her system. I was deeply influenced by our Structural Integration sessions, and recognized that each time I received fascial work, my own work changed. I became increasingly grounded, powerful and connected with my clients. In fact, my greatest understanding of fascial work came from my personal experience of receiving it. I became acutely aware of how fascia changes and what level of energy a body needs to facilitate its change. I realized I had a gift — the innate ability to learn and translate fascial contact. In other words, whatever I felt in my body I could immediately utilize with my clients. At the same time, I recognized that not everybody learns this way. I also knew I had another gift — a natural ability to teach and share this work with others. In 1989 I decided to formalize CTM into a system to share with other practitioners, knowing how much it would benefit them and their clients. When I began teaching, however, I found students didn't fully grasp what I was doing when only watching my hands. I realized it wasn't just the way I used my hands that made my work effective, but rather the way I used my whole body which allowed me to contact and manipulate fascia. From this realization, I drew upon Ida Rolf's genius, extrapolating her principles of body alignment and movement into a specific system of body mechanics. Having already embodied her concepts in my own work, it was easy for me to present them in an organized and understandable way. In its present form, CTM is the culmination of 10 years of continuous evolution, and is a system which offers mastery of fascial manipulation through simple body mechanics. Some Facts about Fascia CTM requires the practitioner to remain relaxed, even while working deep fascial layers.When I introduce CTM to clients, I explain that all of the structures in the body are surrounded, protected and supported by connective tissue. It is the ubiquitous matrix which connects, or binds together, the body's organs and systems, and at the same time provides compartmentalization between them. As you know, fascia is a continuous elastic sheath which provides structural support for the skeleton and soft tissues (muscles, tendons, organs, etc.). This tissue changes readily, softening and lengthening when energy is added through deliberate contact. Dr. Rolf's original research on the characteristics of fascia identified its different biochemical states. She referred to these states as "gel" and "sol." She described the gel state as having a low hydration level, in which fascia often shortens and becomes adhered to surrounding layers of tissue. When I'm working, tissue in this state feels thick and dense to my hands. With my conscious touch, the chemistry of the fascia changes, and within seconds it begins to "sol." In its sol state, fascia is better hydrated, more elastic, and more easily stretched and lengthened. This new quality of tissue feels supple under my hands. My goal in working is to facilitate the gel-sol change to most effectively manipulate the client's fascia. Another significant characteristic of fascia is the way it organizes the body through an extensive webbing of layers. Weaving around and through all of the structures in the body, fascia creates a complicated, contiguous three-dimensional network. Within this network, I endeavor to touch a single layer at a time, sequentially addressing the fascial layers from superficial to deep. I work only on the most superficial layer of resistance, adding energy through my contact until I sense a melting sensation under my hands. This melting signals the accomplishment of the sol state, during which the softened tissue is stretched and lengthened. Once this happens, it is appropriate to work on the next, deeper layer. CTM POSITIONSKey to the practice of Connective Tissue Massage is its application of the principles of Ida P. Rolf to the body mechanics of the practitioner.FRONT POSITION — practitioner uses fingertips or heel of hand SIDE POSITION — only the forearm or elbow is used1. Reaching through top of head into space (at approximately 45-degree angle) 2. Shoulders relaxed 3. Arms spanning forward from torso, elbows slightly flexed 4. Straight plane from hand to wrist through forearm 5. Lumbar spine reaching posterior 6. Pelvis squarely in direction of work, moving forward with the stroke 7. Grounded foot parallel to direction of work, pushing up on to toes with stroke1. Top of head reaching into space, looking forward (not at client) 2. Chest open 3. Elbows extending out of ribs 4. Forearm parallel to direction of stroke 5. Palm up 6. Direction of pelvis forward (i.e., perpendicular to client) 7. Grounding through inside arch of back foot, extending through foot and leg with strokeTHE FIVE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF CONNECTIVE TISSUE BODY MECHANICS:1. Leaning controlled body weight into the client 2. Maintaining alignment 3. Movement through the alignment 4. Using oblique angles of contact 5. Contacting with soft and relaxed hands and body These principles comprise a specific practice which is the optimal way to affect the fascial body of the client.It is a violation to touch the deeper layers of fascia without first having worked the surface layers. Otherwise, the body shuts down to the energy input, armors its defenses and the client will likely experience the work as harsh or painful. Without honoring the fascial layers, practitioners may try to "muscle" their way through resistant tissue, without achieving any positive results. In contrast, the fascial matrix changes readily when energy is added with a clear and conscious intention. Principles of CTM Body Mechanics The first principle of CTM Body Mechanics is leaning controlled body weight into the client.The first principle of Connective Tissue Massage Body Mechanics is leaning controlled body weight into the client. Using controlled body weight ensures contact with the appropriate layer of fascial resistance, and is therefore painless for the client. It is also effortless for me, because I am utilizing the force of gravity. As I lean, gravity literally pulls my weight into the client; this involves no muscular effort on my part. This controlled leaning is done in a particular alignment. Alignment is the second principle of CTM Body Mechanics, and refers to the vertical line around which a body is organized in the Structural Integration model. This line runs from the sole of the foot through the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, ear and top of head. I maintain my line regardless of whether I'm working in a front or side position. The third principle of CTM is movement, which is elongation along the alignment. It's like doing yoga; nothing shortens in my body while I'm working. When I move in CTM Body Mechanics, I lengthen in a vertical dimension through the bottom of my feet and out the top of my head, extending through my arms. I make my body bigger and longer, and my fascia expands in all directions simultaneously. This expansion continues into the fascial body of my client, whose fascia lengthens and expands as though it is a continuation of mine. The next principle of CTM Body Mechanics is the use of oblique angles of contact. Fascia lies in broad, continuous planes in the body. In order to lengthen a broad sheet, we need to contact it from an oblique angle, which takes the downward thrust out of the contact and puts in a more forward, stretching movement. While a downward thrust would immobilize the tissue, the oblique angle mobilizes the tissue so it can be lengthened. This process maximizes the transmission of my body weight into the client, while minimizing any invasive or compressive contact. The ability to stay soft and relaxed in my body and hands comprises the final principle of CTM Body Mechanics. This ability to be relaxed and open while working ensures I remain noninvasive, even when contacting deeper layers of tissue. My effectiveness is improved because my client is able to remain open to receive the work. In addition, I am able to listen through my hands to the proprioceptive information I receive. Intuitively, I understand the force and direction necessary to best respond to my client's needs. When I apply all of these principles, I use my entire presence to promote change in a client. Working this way is effective for the client, and virtually effortless for me. This is because the experience of true fascial contact is one of "letting go" — for my client, as well as myself. I am able to let go because I am working with the gravity field, and my client's fascia responds to my intention by softening and lengthening. This allows the liberation of long-held patterns of shortening and restriction. Spanning and Energetic Resonance Shown in side position, Latz maintains the vertical alignment crucial to proper CTM Body Mechanics.When I lean and move in the CTM alignment, I lengthen and open my body in several directions simultaneously, an experience referred to as "span." Spanning actually expands my energy field. In this way, CTM Body Mechanics are similar to t'ai chi or other martial arts, in which specific body postures enhance one's energetic presence. By spanning, I provide a more ordered and energized energy field than that of my client. A resonance is established between us, through which my client's fascia is nourished and energized. As with other resonance phenomena in nature, the more ordered system prevails, and the client's connective tissue begins to resonate with mine. Through this vibrational exchange, the client's fascial body is transformed to a new level of openness and integration. Within this dynamic, a new boundary is defined. This boundary requires I stay present in my own expanded energy center, while at the same time affecting my client's energy system. CTM Body Mechanics keep me centered so I am able to accomplish this balancing act. The boundary created is safe and appropriate, not forced upon my client. Rather, it is welcomed, with clients often remarking my touch feels "just right" or "just what I need." My use of energy is deliberate and conscious, and applied through a physical act. CTM Body Mechanics constitute a specific system which is the optimal way to transfer energy into the fascial body of the receiver. This is my practical approach to bringing concepts of resonance and energetic exchange into the practice of bodywork. Structuring a Session: Fascia is the Guide Central to Connective Tissue Massage is the premise that fascia is the guide for the application of the work. In CTM, the sequence and progression of a session are determined by fascial relationships. The goal of the work is to lengthen clients' fascia so their bodies become longer and more open. A session doesn't necessarily dwell on a localized area of pain or discomfort, nor does it focus on symptomatic release strokes as its primary goal. Typically, I begin a session by palpating the area I wish to address in order to determine where fascia is shortened. Rather than having a preconceived notion about clients' tissue, I let their fascia show me what it needs. I am guided by proprioception, and open to intuition. In areas where I encounter particular resistance from the tissue, I adjust my body alignment to modify the depth, speed or direction of fascial contact. Within the subtleties of these modifications lies the creative art of fascial manipulation. This work is challenging and exciting in its application. Maintaining all the CTM Body Mechanics principles, I am able to meet the individual needs of each client. When I discover specific restrictions that require attention, I expand my awareness to consider and address more distant areas which might relate to those restrictions. I already know and teach many of these relationships. Others become apparent through palpation, and from clients' (verbal and nonverbal) response to the work. For a moment, let us go on a fascial exploration in the body. For example, a common complaint of neck pain could be addressed first with the hand. The fascial pathway might lead us from the palmar fascia into the flexor compartment of the forearm, traversing the brachialis and biceps fascia, continuing into the deltoid fascia, and becoming part of the scalenes fascia. We affect the neck before working directly on it. Thus shortened fascia, like a wrinkled sheet, can be stretched from distant points and directions. We can, for instance, immediately apply this same approach to address the path from the leg through the hip to the sacrum, etc. It deserves emphasis that the individual muscles are not our focus. Instead, our primary considerations are the relationships of long, broad fascial planes to one another. This allows us a creative and effective means whereby fascial work in one area affects the entire body. Sharing the Work The oblique entry of contact in CTM work ensures the fascial manipulation is both comfortable and effective for the client.Virtually everyone can receive connective tissue work and experience its many benefits. CTM helps relieve chronic tension, increases ease of movement, improves posture and enhances self-awareness. A session can be organized to focus on a particular client complaint, e.g., neck tension, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatic pain, etc. It can be helpful in preventing, as well as rehabilitating from, many types of injuries. Fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other disorders affecting the neuromusculoskeletal system can also be addressed with connective tissue work, as well. CTM is useful as a full-body session, addressing the entire superficial layer of fascia. This balancing approach leaves clients feeling longer, lighter and more open throughout their bodies, and still allows specific concerns to be addressed within its context. CTM clearly stands alone as a modality, but can be integrated with other techniques, depending on the training and background of any given practitioner. Using CTM, manipulating fascia is effortless. Applying this approach has the potential to revolutionize any single practice. Among the community of connective tissue practitioners, the revolution is already underway. John Latz is the founder of the Institute for Structural Integration and the developer of Connective Tissue Massage. Experiential classes in CTM are available through the institute. Founded in 1992, ISI is the exclusive organization offering CTM training. ISI offers four-day workshops in basic and advanced CTM, as well as a complete program of Structural Integration. For more information, contact Latz at 305/754-0983.Click here to view original article published in Connective Tissue MagazineRead More
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