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Structural Integration Hip Series - A Client's Perspective (Part 2)

Session 3 of 4

I came into this session holding so much tension, and felt both mentally and physically stiff and tight. In this session, we worked on opening up more space in my tailbone, which by default would allow me to engage my core more throughout my daily life. The importance of this was underscored when Rock asked me to bend my knee and lift my leg up to hip height one at a time, and it was apparent how much uneasiness I had in my ankles and knees. I could barely stand up straight on one foot without wobbling! As a lifelong yoga practitioner that has done my fair share of tree pose, this was humbling to say the least! After about halfway through the session, Rock asked me to lift one knee and stand on one foot, and I was truly amazed by how much easier it was to stand on one foot.

Another area we worked on was my hip bones - if you actually took a look, it would become abundantly clear that one of my hips is lifted so much higher than the other! I definitely felt the deepest discomfort in this portion of the hip work, but Rock kept me engaged and laughing through it all. After this work was done, not only were my hips more even, but I felt so much more space in my hips and low back. Even beyond that, I felt like I was a different person than the anxious, stressed out person that walked through Rock’s door an hour earlier.

Rock also gave me a “taste” of the structural integration session for the head and neck. After the relative “hard word” that was required for the hip portion of the session, this felt like bliss! Rock worked on the fascia under the jawline up through my neck and upper back, and when we were done, he said that even my eyes had a different look to them - I fully believe that!

As I was getting ready to leave the session, I was on my phone, and Rock noticed that my default posture was, let’s just say… less than ideal. He gave me some pointers to fix my posture in daily movements, like while I’m texting on my phone. I’ve been able to catch myself far too many times since then jutting my head out or rolling my shoulders forward while on my phone. As Rock said, I’m far too young to have such bad posture patterns! I always thought of myself as someone with relatively good posture, but after 3 years of working from home, it was refreshing to have someone give me a reality check of what I need to work on. I appreciate so many things about Rock, but perhaps what I appreciate the most is his honesty and his ability to give me small pieces of feedback that I can incorporate into my daily life. These tips give me the insight I need to actually make sustainable change that will last far beyond these sessions!

Session 4 of 4

In my final hip series session, I was bursting with anticipation for my “progress report.” This is, of course, not an official term, but rather my own mobility test for my ability to stand on one foot, walk around, and find my deepest (but most stable) squat.

We started this session with a release of my sacroiliac joints. The sacroiliac joint links the pelvis to the lower spine, and makes up the sacrum and the top part of the pelvis (the ilium). Since these joints support the upper body while standing, it makes perfect sense that any tightness in these areas would cause me to hold my body in suboptimal ways while standing, walking around, and squatting. To do this, Rock pressed into these joints and… simply waited for them to release. One aspect that I love about structural integration is that there is no forcing, no gripping, and no pushing - Rock is truly having a two-way dialogue between himself and my joints, and slowly easing them into position. After a few moments, the joint relaxes - it’s subtle, but noticeable, and allows more space in my sacrum and pelvis. This was demonstrated even more prominently when I stood up to walk around; rather than feeling like my legs were floating around in space disconnected from my body, I could truly feel the connection between my legs and my pelvis, and my pelvis to my upper body. Even my squat, while definitely far from perfect, felt easier as I was able to sit back further while still keeping my torso relatively straight up.

Next, we moved into what could best be described as a “sphinx” pose in yoga, but my hands are outstretched in front of me rather than being propped up on my elbows. Keeping my lower body disengaged, I slowly used my upper body strength to lift my chest up. This movement felt similar to the movements I do in my regular yoga practice, but without the knowledge that I should not be engaging my glutes and legs. I can imagine that when most people do sphinx pose, they are engaging their glutes and doing all the work from there, which compresses the lower back, rather than using the pose to lengthen the area around the low back. I’ll never do sphinx pose the same again!

To finish off the session, we worked through the sacroiliac joints on either side to lift the pelvic up towards the front of the sacrum. Like in previous sessions, I felt a similar wave of nausea wash over me, but this time, it faded as quickly as it came through. As soon as I was able to take a deep breath, I could feel my hips sink down towards the table. I can still feel this openness in my hips as I’m writing this a full 24 hours later!

At the end of the session, I stood up and attempted the same walking, standing on one foot, and squat exercises I practiced in the beginning. This time, I felt much more ease in my squat, and I was able to engage my glute muscles while keeping my core fully engaged and even more upright. I have taken the tools I learned in this final hip session home with me and was even able to maintain the same level of deep, engaged squat the next day. I am confident that the lessons and skills I’ve learned throughout this series will not just support my mobility in the short term, but has given me tools to continue to build my mobility as I move through life.


As I reflect on the past few months of deep structural integration and hip work, I have felt both gross and subtle changes in my physical and emotional bodies. I’ve already touched on some of the more drastic changes: the debilitating low back pain that was almost instantly relieved, the immediate differences I have felt in my ankles and knees, and the general lightness that I feel every time I walk out of Rock’s studio. I have definitely also felt a cumulative shift in how I hold my body in space - while sitting at my desk, standing in line at the grocery store, or walking my dog.

However, at the end of the day, the patterns that I’ve built in the way I move my body have taken 30 years to solidify, so they will take more than a few months to unwind! These sessions that I have had with Rock have given me an opportunity to check in with myself and understand the minutiae of my daily movement and how small movements (holding my phone, doing the dishes, watching TV) lead to patterns, and patterns can either make or break your movement and mobility.

As with most humans on this planet, I’ve experienced my own fair amount of trauma. One such trauma that impacts my body and mind every day is my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which my own body does not produce enough beta cells for insulin to regulate my blood sugar. I firmly believe that my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes was an impetus for my body to stop trusting itself, and has thus resulted in years of cognitive therapy to unravel the impact of living in a body that does not function optimally.

How is this relevant to structural integration? Well, ask any bodyworker, and they would likely agree that emotional stress and trauma are held in fascia. If you’ve been in a yoga class and the instructor told you you might cry when in pigeon pose, this is along those same lines. While not studied nearly enough, some literature has pointed to the fact that in response to stress, fascia can become restricted and dehydrated. Dehydrated fascia leads to increased pressure and irritation, which can be experienced as tight hips, hamstrings, or shoulders.

I know that the concrete knowledge I’ve gained in these sessions will stick with me for a long time to come. Even beyond that, I trust that the subtle changes that have occurred deep within the fascia lines of my body will “remember” these shifts and continue to guide me towards more productive movement over time. When I began these structural integration sessions, I felt so self-conscious about my body and acutely aware of its limitations. As I near the end of my sessions, I feel the patterns I’ve developed over time beginning to unwind, leaving me hopeful for a body that is more aligned, moves freely, and feels fully integrated - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

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