Self-Care Resources for Moving and Feeling Better

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A feature of structural integration (SI) is that, as a client, your independence from the practitioner is encouraged. Throughout and after the initial (typically 10-session) process, you are urged to take what you learn about your body, awareness, and movement, and apply it in your life. After awhile, you may occasionally revisit your practitioner for advanced exploration, but their emphasis should always be on educating and empowering, not "fixing" you, per se.

Vital to embodying the changes experienced during the SI process is the ability to self-care. There is no right way to do this. Different people need different things at different times. However, some strategies tend to better support the goals of most SI clients. 

As an SI client (or anyone interested in cultivating embodiment), what qualities should you look for in your self-care practices? What should you avoid? Rolfer Kevin Frank (2005) offers some suggestions: 

We want to avoid strategies that: 

  • Require special equipment 
  • You find boring, too difficult, or otherwise unenjoyable
  • Emphasize physical strength over sense perception 
  • Reinforce habits of effort and bracing
  • Address specific parts of the body at the expense of the whole

Self-care practices should ideally: 

  • Be performable anywhere, without special equipment
  • Be achievable and enjoyable
  • Offer novel sensation
  • Emphasize strengthening of perception rather than physical strength
  • Offer a sense of gaining power while lowering effort
  • Work globally, on the whole body 

Below is a list of self-care resources for SI clients. Many are specific to the Portland metro area, but some are web-based. This list is updated on an ongoing basis. If you have any additional resources to suggest, please feel free to send me a message!  


Dance

Any form of dance can be approached as a movement inquiry, however dance styles that emphasize body awareness and connection are ideal for somatic explorers. Such styles include tango, blues, ecstatic dance, and contact improv. The most important thing is that it's safe and enjoyable for you.  

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  • PortlandDancing.org - A list of dance classes and events in the Portland area. This is where you'll find tango and blues dance listings. 
  • PDXEcstaticDance.com - This site focuses on ecstatic dance and contact improv listings. 

Somatic Education

These approaches cultivate mindful body use. Though they share many similarities, there are distinct differences between them. Click here for a brief overview: Alexander Technique, Body-Mind Centering, Continuum, Feldenkrais, and Hanna Somatics are some of the methods described.   

 

Flight of the Eagle

Flight of the Eagle is a self-care exercise I learned from Rolfing instructors Kevin Frank and Caryn McHose. I've found it so useful for myself and for my clients that it warrants its own section here. This simple movement flow offers the opportunity to explore and refine many of the concepts learned through an SI series, and you can do it pretty much anywhere, at any time. 


Meditation/Mindfulness

These aren't really exercises, but more psychologically-oriented practices that involve the development of our felt sense.  

  • Nonviolent Communication (NVC) - NVC is an approach to awareness and communication developed by psychologist Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. 
    • Rose City NVC - Fred Sly, PhD, and the other trainers at Rose City NVC offer introductions to this incredibly useful practice.
  •  Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) - MBSR is an evidence-based approach developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. 
  • Vipassana Meditation - A Buddhist approach, if that appeals to you. 

Yoga

Of all the influences on Ida Rolf's work, yoga is probably the best-known. There are plenty of options for yoga studios in Portland. This listing focuses on studios that offer classes for $10 or less, or discount/scholarship options. 


Miscellaneous   

  • People's Food Co-op - Free tai chi, yoga, and other classes with co-op membership. 
  • GMB Fitness - Online fitness programs that build on basic movement skills, but also target strength and flexibility. 
  • Uncaged Human - Weekly classes exploring "primal movement." 
  • Relief Through Rolling - I often meet clients who experience pain or discomfort when foam rolling. This video, by structural integrator Kevin Lucas, demonstrates how to use a foam roller both safely and effectively. 

References

Frank, K. (2005). Flight of the Eagle - Self care for structural integration clients. 2005 IASI Yearbook of Structural Integration, 44-50.  

Daniel AkinsSelf-Care