Rolfer, Dancer, Teacher

Posts tagged ‘Jon Martine’

Structural Visceral Integration class review

In early April I attended Bruce Schonfeld‘s Structural Visceral Integration for the Low Back, Pelvis, and Abdomen class in LA on my way down to Advanced Training in Brazil. Admittedly, it was a class that I signed up for first and foremost because I needed the credits. I had been given a pass on my prerequisites for Advanced Training in Brazil and was one RISI Manipulation Credit shy of fulfilling those requirements and being able to graduate. So I’d been on the lookout for anything I could do to complete that credit between Modules 1 and 2 and Bruce’s class in LA the weekend on my way down to Brazil was a great option.

I’ve taken several of Jon Martine’s Neural Manipulation classes in the past 6 years and gotten a rudimentary feel for working with viscera from his Neural 2 class so Bruce’s class felt like a good way to further that knowledge. And around the time I signed up for the class it seemed like I started seeing a number of low back pain classes that seemed to involve a visceral component. So with that lead-up in mind I arrived in class ready to soak up any tips I could.

*Except* for the the fact that I also arrived in LA Friday morning sans my US Passport very much needed for my flight to Brazil Sunday evening…

As I had gone through TSA at the airport I realized I had forgot to put my passport in my carry-on. Thinking I had left it in my checked luggage from packing, I mostly let the thought linger calmly through my flight out to LA. Upon arrival to LA, I got my checked back, found the zipper partially open, and with no passport to be found. So, “shitshitshitshitshit”, I go ahead and get to my airbnb and spend several frantic hours calling every airport along my way, TSA, the State Department, and the Brazillian Embassy in LA all to no avail.

I remember putting my passport with my bag but not taking it back out but on the off chance I’d left it at my house which is currently totally packed up and listed for sale. After realizing nobody with a key to my house is in town I call a friend who just happens to be on the road 10 minutes away from my house. Because the house is up for sale, there’s a lockbox on the door and it turns out I’d taken the passport out and put it in a dresser drawer. With an hour or two to spare my friend is able to get the passport to FedEx and overnight it to me.

All this to say that I came in to the training pretty wound up and Bruce was cool, calm, and helpful with my flitting in and out at first making calls. And the staff at Yo San University was great and helping me make sure FedEx could make the delivery and what directions to give them. And much as it wasn’t exactly my plan to show up feeling crazy and freaked that I might not be able to make it to Brazil, I think it speaks well to a class when the instructors can roll with that, help you settle, and move along into the material.

Day 1 – Friday Evening – Assements and Feet

Day 1 started in the evening with about 4 hours of class time from 5-9. We talked a bit about what we’d be working with, introduced ourselves, etc. The class was about 1/3 Structural Integrators and 2/3 folks coming more from a craniosacral or Barral type background.

Our first work was in the vein of doing structural assessments. Something I’m pretty familiar with from the Rolfing world of standing up in front of a room full of people in one’s underwear and having them comment on what they see structurally and functionally. It’s curious to me how quickly a group assessment of a single model tends to move into “negative” territory and it can definitely be challenging and deflating to stand there while a whole group of your peers just points out everything they see off in your structure. That said, I think Bruce actually did a nice job of influencing the assessments to stay more balanced, looking for both strengths and areas for improvement.

Then it was onto working on feet, testing mobility in the myriad number of joints in the feet and simple ways to help mobilize them. I’ve had similar ideas taught in basic Rolfing training classes, but taught for beginners in a fairly protocol-oriented fashion. So it was fun and interesting to see Bruce’s take, some of the ways he made testing more efficient, more interactive, etc. Day 1 ended, I sauntered quietly home, put myself to bed, and set an overly early alarm to make sure I could eat and be back at Yo San early in case FedEx arrived before the staff did.

Day 2 – Saturday – Legs into Viscera

Day 2 began bright and early for me with an air of cautious optimism and trepidation about my passport. It arrived at the first break and I would spend pretty much the next two days repeatedly double checking that it was in my pocket or backpack. Each time, it was. In hindsight it was a good lesson about how the stories we build in moments of panic can stick with us long after the initial upset.

The work of the first half of day 2 took us into the legs, hips, and pelvic floor. One of the things Bruce often repeated through the class was “I’d rather underwhelm someone and lose them as a client than to overwhelm them and cause them harm.” Given the range of skill levels and experience from freshly minted Rolfers to 30 year veteran bodyworkers I found this to be a valuable thought as we dove into sensitive areas and heavily used muscles.

After lunch (I decided to get my obligatory In-N-Out Burger for the trip), we delved deeper into the outer layers of the visceral compartment. Bruce had a good number of videos at this point taking us through dissected territory of the structures and viscera we’d be working with. A few groans could be heard from those with more sensitive constitutions to the imagery but for me it was fascinating and great for getting a starter image of where we would be working.

For me, one of the more valuable factors for this class was the way Bruce allowed the practice time to evolve. Shorter 2 and 3 day CE classes have a tendency to be a very show-and-copy based model of education, what I call “Here’s the thing, do the thing, here’s the next thing, do the next thing, etc.” This class encouraged experimentation and treating more like we would in practice, following the tissue and working with our intuition or inspiration moreso than following a protocol. It made for a nice mix of experiences too going from trading with highly experienced practitioners to some very new bodyworkers and being able to adjust what we were doing and how we were learning accordingly.

Day 3 – Deeper into the Viscera

The final day was all visceral material in terms of new territory. More videos, more work into the abdominal space, talking about organs and their general placement and exploring ways to test and move them.

Click the Omentum Tree to see more about the anatomical Greater Omentum

Click the Omentum Tree to see more about the anatomical Greater Omentum

The anatomy portions lead to one of my revelatory moments in the class which was the existence of two anatomical structures called the greater and lesser omentums. They are a sort of pair of fatty curtains hanging off of the greater and lesser curves of the stomach that act as a part of the body’s immune system among other things. It was one of those ah-ha sort of moments realizing that this piece existed in the body helped to create an ability to feel them when working on someone. And while it could be all in my head, it did seem that two weeks later in my advanced training course I ran into an adhesion in a client that felt exactly like what I imagined to be the greater omentum and wouldn’t seem to fit with any other visceral structures that I was aware of.

Sunday seemed to be a closed for lunch day for a number of the local restaurants so I ended up at In-N-Out again, this time with a classmate which ended up being a really great conversation. I spent the afternoon noticing how some practitioners would dive into visceral space faster or slower or more or less aggressively than each other and feeling out my own preferences for these factors. At the same time, I was playing with how to receive and benefit from a range of touch instead of fighting the fact that someone I was trading with might bring a different default touch than my own.

My flight to Brazil left at 9 on Sunday, about 3 hours after the class was due to end. As we eased into the afternoon of the class, I did find myself wondering for a bit if receiving loads of visceral work before an 11 hour international flight was the best idea given the occasional tendency for visceral work to “get things moving” in the digestive and beyond departments. I had a nice integrative session at the end of the day though and then Bruce offered to give me a ride to the airport as he was picking someone up shortly after class which afforded a nice chance to talk through a few more things and put a nice sort of personal closure on the workshop for me.

Aftermath – Anatomy as my Growing Edge

I picked up a decent number of little tricks or ideas from this workshop, but my biggest take away seemed to be that anatomy knowledge is a big part of my growing edge. As I’ve added understanding both of the existence of structures, but also the wide variability of human anatomy, it seems to be a major factor in my work improving lately. As such, this class lead me pretty quickly into the idea that I wanted to take on a cadaver dissection lab next.

I’d heard about them for years since the early stages of Rolfing training and Gil Hedley was always referred to as being a great source for anatomy workshops. Bruce had referenced his dissection labs several times over as well so the next week after finishing this training, I was looking up workshops with Gil and booking a trip to St. Andrews, Scotland to study with him. In some ways, I think it might be one of the most telling things about the usefulness of Bruce’s workshop that almost everyone in class was already planning a next training to build off of the class by the end of it.

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Neural Mobilization Unit 2

 

At the beginning of December, I had the pleasure of taking another neural mobilization workshop with Jon Martine. This workshop dealt primarily with neural mobilization around the hips, shoulders, and spine as well as some visceral manipulation.

I was once again very surprised and pleased with how effective the work could be with a lot of patience but very little force. Particularly in working with the visceral components it often felt more like listening to the body take on a life of its own rather than making something happen. While I can tell there is still a long way to go with developing my skills around it, it does seem to be a great way to practice listening and following in the way I work.

I had some strong experiences in my own body related to the work as well. In particular, after having work around the collar bones and shoulders, I felt width in my shoulders on a level that I don’t think I have experienced before. It made me strongly aware of how often I hold postures that compress my shoulders or attempt to take up less space with my body than it actually occupies. While I’m fairly aware of having broad shoulders, it was the first time I can recall feeling them truly relax into their full width.

I also got lucky enough to be the demo body for the work on liver, lungs, stomach, and transversus thoracis. Because I have a mild-moderate pectus excavatum, the area of the middle and upper chest has always felt like a particularly problematic area for me to open up. Jon had me test with side bending before and after the work and the difference was pretty amazing. Before, I felt my ribs could side bend pretty readily, but something in the middle was hanging me up; but after freeing up the internal structures, it was like I could bend another 20 degrees further to each side!

I’ve since had an opportunity to play with this style of work with a few clients and I’m really happy with the results. I really like the effect it is having on my ability to listen better in fascial work too.

Neural Mobilization Unit 1

This post is imported from my original blog at RaleighRolfing.com

This past Thursday to Sunday I had my hands full… of nerves.  Inside Out Body Therapies of Durham hosted a workshop by Jon Martine on Neural Mobilization strategies.

The nerve fibers running through your body are not only surrounded by fascia, but also internally wrapped together by fascia as well.  Each nerve fiber is wrapped and then bundles of fibers are wrapped together eventually forming the full nerve.  Ideally, these layers of wrapping work together to allow the nerves to glide and stretch through the body the same way your muscles must stretch as you move.  This motion is beautifully illustrated in the video Strolling Under The Skin (Note that this video contains images of living tissue).

If the wrapping around the nerves becomes impinged or stuck, the nerves will signal muscles to contract in order to prevent the nerves from stretching too far or being damaged.  So sometimes what we may read as a tight muscle is actually a tight nerve using the muscle to protect itself.  By releasing the nerve and allowing it to glide, the muscles may be allowed to release their tone and move more freely.

Going into the workshop, I was not sure what to expect from this style of work but came out really thrilled with some of the results.  The workshop focused on arms and legs (Jon plans to be back in December for an axial nerves class) and I felt some incredible unwindings both in mine and other particpants bodies.

For me one of the strongest effects was felt in my forearms.  Having been in computer programming for 8 years, my forearms have taken on the inward roll of a keyboardist.  So when my arms would hand at my side, my thumbs would end up pointing at my legs rather than foreward.  This has contributed to other issues like rolled shoulders, a hunched posture, etc.  But with very little pressure, one of my classmates was able to unwind that twist by almost 90 degrees just by opening up the nerves in my arm.

I have since tried this with a few clients who had had limited response with fascial work and have been very pleased with the results.  For several clients who’s bodies were inflamed or wound up, neural mobilization seems to have been very helpful in allowing their bodies to relax, recharge, and hurt less.  It is really incredible to watch how someone’s body and entire system can settle with this work.

I’m very excited about adding this dimension to my work and grateful to Jon and IOBT for putting together this workshop.

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