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from Potent People Magazine

The Deep Tissue Integration Experience

by Samuel Schoonover, M.A

Deep Tissue Integration (DTI) permanently realigns posture, quickly and gently in ten treatments. The physical transformation occurs when the muscular-skeletal system is balanced three-dimensionally, bringing about a more harmonious relationship with gravity. Theory dictates that structure determines function. Therefore, a properly aligned body structure will return body mechanics to either a normal or an above-average performance level. But vertical alignment is only one of the benefits. A profound attitudinal healing takes place during DTI. Clients experience a natural mental and emotional awakening that opens the path to becoming all they want to be. As the body becomes more balanced and stabilized in its new erect posture, the mental state becomes more focused. One literally becomes more level-headed. Clients report feeling more centered and in tune with their emotions, more aware of how thoughts and feelings are expressed through their physical body. An enhanced sense of decisiveness emerges, becoming aligned with heartfelt goals and dispersing the resistance to act. Unfinished business gets finished. I like to ask this question of my clients, "If there was one thing you would like to do for your own personal growth, but have not got around to doing yet, what would that be?"

DTI moves a person in a straight line from their answer to that question toward their goal. Their aligned body supplies the clarity and the consistent energy needed to get there. After DTI, the body offers the least resistance to the pull of gravity. Internal vertical and horizontal lines of balance have been brought to the center point of the pelvis. One moves from this center, like a Tai Chi initiate, in the optimum point of balance within three-dimensional space. Gravity pulls equally from front to back, from side to side and from top to bottom. Ida Rolf, the originator of DTI, compared the body's musculature to an erected tent, with the pole being the spine. If one or two of the pegs supporting the tent are too loose, it sags and looks half-collapsed. If one or two pegs are too tight, the tent is torqued or twisted. But if all pegs are balanced with the right amount of equal tension, the tent obtains its maximum height and width. At this point the pole-or spine-is no longer a weight-bearer, but serves as a spacer.

How does one adjust the tent pegs of the body? Not by adjusting the muscles, but by reorganizing the connective tissue that encases the entire muscular-skeletal system: the fascia. The uniting factor of the body, the myofascial system holds the body segments together like a wet suit or a sleeve. Surrounding all the muscles, this very thin, web-like membrane of tissue is similar to the clear membrane found under the skin of chicken. It binds, separates, encapsulates and supports every muscle, organ and cavity of the body. Rolf discovered and developed the system of manipulations (Rolfing) that is her gift of genius to the world. Based on Rolfing, DTI reorganizes the intrinsic state of the fascia throughout the whole body, allowing the body to regain its structural integrity. Through the pressure of the practitioner's hands, the solid, gel-like matrix or ground substance withing the fascial cells softens and becomes more fluid. Thus energized, the fascia can then be lengthened and reorganized, creating immediate, visible postural change. All segments of the body-feet, legs, thighs, pelvis, torso, chest, shoulders, neck and head-are analyzed and manipulated in the context of how each affects the others and the structure as a whole. The blueprint to remodeling the body's structure is the ten-session DTI sequence; the fascia is the means to change.

Our entire past history, both physical and emotional, has brought us to our present posture. A common example is a zig-zag pattern of stress that starts in the left ankle and creates a twisting in the right knee. This imbalance in the lower body in turn causes the pelvis to rotate, resulting in a scoliosis in the spine. To compensate the spine, the right shoulder lowers and the head tilts in the opposite direction. Another typical posture begins with locked or hyperextended knees, causing a tipped pelvis and resulting in lordosis (sway lower back) and potential chronic lower backache. The upper body compensates with a collapsed rib cage and the head leans forward. By working with the whole muscular-skeletal network via the facscia, DTI corrects not the symptoms, but the causes of misalignment.

It is truly amazing, yet consistently true, that bad posture can be permanently corrected in only ten sessions of bodywork. After the tenth session of DTI, front and back views of the body exhibit a horizontal leveling of the major joints, and equal distribution of weight from right to left. The side view shows a straight vertical plumb line along the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and ear. The torso is decompressed and is lifted off the rim of the pelvis. From the waist up, the client feels the vertical thrust of life. From the pelvis down, the client feels grounded, rooted, connected to the earth. After DTI, people look taller (potentially, one can gain between 1/8" to 1" or more in height); appear thinner and almost always look younger. They walk straighter and with more grace. I advise clients to write down all their physical and emotional ailments and complaints before session one. After session ten, most of these problems have either vanished or lessened to the point of little significance. Lordosis and kyphosis (rounded upper back) disappear completely or are radically improved.

Many of the changes are experienced immediately upon standing after each session. Major shifts come as a cumulative effect during different phases of treatment, depending on the individual. Other forms of bodywork do not get to the level of permanently changing the fascia, nor do they have a theoretical framework that reorganizes the entire body. Unless the fascia is softened, lengthened and reorganized, certain conditions cannot be addressed. For example, over 70% of all clients have chronic neck and shoulder tension and exhibit what is called the "coat-hanger look." They appear to have been lifted by the shoulders and hung up that way. When asked to relax their shoulders, these clients respond, "I can't," or "I didn't know they were raised." The connective tissue fascia of their shoulders has chronically shortened and solidified into biological concrete. When the muscular-skeletal system can support itself with minimal effort, our minds and emotions are free to make changes in behavior that enable us to reach out and attain new goals.

It is a joy to witness the newly aligned bodies of my clients and students becoming congruent with their true mental, emotional and spiritual essence. Once grounded in the temple of the body, our legs give us understanding, our heads and hearts meet the world equally and we feel comfortable just being ourselves. Although clients often begin DTI merely in order to get relief from aches and pains, the experience leaves them transformed. Some people have classified DTI as radical, because of the vast, rapid physical, mental and emotional changes it brings in only ten sessions. Looking at before and after pictures, it often seems a miracle that such a transformation could happen at all. Beyond addressing a variety of health problems, DTI is the perfect preventative health care gift to yourself. No other form of bodywork offers so much. It will be an experience your tissues, thoughts and heart will remember.

Samuel Schoonover, M.A., has been a DTI practitioner since 1978. In 1982, he founded the Natural Health Institute in Santa Cruz and originated the California state certified Deep Tissue Integration program.

1. Our entire past history, both physical and emotional, has brought us to our present posture.

2. As the body becomes more balanced, the mental state becomes more focused.

3. After DTI, people look taller, appear thinner and almost always look younger.

4. Bad posture can be permanently corrected in only ten sessions of bodywork.

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