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The Line


What is “the line”? In the world of Rolfing, the line represents, first and foremost, the gravitational path from sky to earth.  We spend our lives managing ourselves in space around this line. Whether we realize it or not, the line is quite fundamental to life in our body on this earth.

As humans, we live in a continuous crossroads of vertical and horizontal lines connecting us the planet and to each other. Our spine was designed to stand upright on a vertical axis and to move along the horizontal plane. As our bodies hinge, rotate and curve to find movement, we traverse through a three dimensional space, yet we often may feel like we have no idea how we got ‘there’. There, of course, is the proverbial line where we exist in the here and now; in the vertical of space and the horizontal of time.

medical human

Often as humans, we are often very good at staying on one side of the line. Some of us enjoy staying affixed to the earth while others find countless new ways of propelling into space. Sometimes people seem to inhabit the front of the body and not the back, or vice-verse. There may even be a correlation with our physical preferences and psycho-emotional needs. For example, those with a chest lifted and forging ahead may be overly invested in the future, whereas others who look as if they are holding back physically may also be mentally holding back. Patterns that we inherit or learn affect our perception and understanding of how we inhabit the body and move through the world, and often we attach so strongly to one side of the line (or one way of being) that we forget our whole-ness. We forget our ability to be balanced; we forget our true nature. This may affect how we look, how we move, and how we feel.

Rolfers are fascinated in this line; where it flows, where there are limitations due to kinks or knots, and where there is potential for this line to more efficiently and integrally connect us on the inside, and to the outside world.


Rolfers call the idea of expansion in any two directions palintonicity, and it provides understanding about where we are. While there is a component of physics involved when we speak about the line, each one of us are so much more than an equation. We are layers upon layers of cells that have been compounded in organic, ordered and random patterns. We are curves and hills and valleys; both rock-like and marshmallow, all in one system.  The spine, suspended from this conceptual line, is anything but straight. Our body is more like layered cylinders of tissue that dip, bow and lift, not unlike the tectonic plates of the earth creating both rocky and plush landscapes. The tissues create the landscape of the body. The mind provides the forecast.

Over time, these layers can get stuck together, dense and undefined. Rolfers are in the business of unsticking, clarifying and organizing the fascial layers of tissue, while redefining the relationship with gravity in a more balanced, adaptive system.


Simply put, we integrate. We bring awareness and order to the inner and outer body, and bring the two together in the integral middle layer. It is possible to be inside and outside of the line; inhabiting our inner depths of self, while experiencing, communicating and processing an external space.

As an abstract concept and a mathematical equation, the line is ours to explore, imagine, and transform our relationships. Earth, sky; future, past; inner, outer…when the dimensionality of self is illuminated and integrated, we feel more complete.

Fascia is the connecting line between the psyche and the soma –Dr. Ida Rolf

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