Ida P. Rolf - Visonary. . . and Barnard Woman
I learned about Ida Rolf when I first began studying massage therapy and found myself interested in deeper, structural work. Much to my delight, she, too, graduated from my alma mater, the small liberal arts women's college in New York City, Barnard. Granted, she graduated 86 years my senior, but I can't help but feel innately connected to her.
After receiving her PhD in Biochemistry from Columbia University, Ida worked at the Rockefeller Institute in the Departments of Chemotherapy and Organic Chemistry. While studying physics and atomic science in Switzerland, in the late 1920's, Ida became interested in Homeopathic medicine. During the 1930's, she devoted her life to learning about healing modalities like yoga, osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, the Alexander technique and Korzybski’s work on states of consciousness.
Legend has it there was a well known vocal coach in her neighborhood whose child was unable to walk due to a debilitating structural injury. Ida promised the woman that she would get her child to walk again-if she taught Ida's children to sing. The woman agreed and sure enough, Ida worked the first of her many "miracles". Ida's Manhattan apartment was known to be flooded with "patients"--people seeking her medical advice.
Later in her life, Ida developed Structural Integration-a form of deep bodywork that was named in her honor, Rolfing. Up until her death, she actively taught, gave public lectures, wrote, and studied. She was an INCREDIBLE woman, mother, healer, and scholar.
The following is a video where we can hear her speaking about her craft. Pardon the Portuguese subtitles.