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Reminiscences of Dr. Rolf

A few years ago I ambitiously began a project to write a book about Ida Rolf. I periodically interviewed people who had known her, trying to get some insight into her work, its development, and people's response to her. Over time, the project was abandoned, but in the course of it, I collected some stories worth re-telling. Here are some of them.
Author
Translator
Pages: 6-7
Year: 1996
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

ROLF LINES, Vol XXIV nº 03 August 1996

Volume: 24
A few years ago I ambitiously began a project to write a book about Ida Rolf. I periodically interviewed people who had known her, trying to get some insight into her work, its development, and people's response to her. Over time, the project was abandoned, but in the course of it, I collected some stories worth re-telling. Here are some of them.

Anna Hyder was a model for Ida Rolf in a class in 1973. Anna had had polio as a young child, spent 15 months in the hospital, and had surgery on her left foot and right achilles tendon at the age of 8. In a 1991 interview with me, she described her experience of being Rolfed by Ida:

It was ageless-I always wanted to go out into space and see planets. And I felt that Ida knew what space and planets look like, because she knew what the body is like. I also know what my body s looks like inside-what the colors are and what the living tissues are like. It’s beautiful. I know the universe from knowing my body.

I also know what my body would have been like if I hadn’t had polio-what my legs would have been like, how tall I would have been. Ida gave me that. Ida Rolf saved the life in me. I cried the whole time I got Rolfed. There are people who save your life, and there a people who save The Life.

Anna was also on the staff of the Rolf Institute in Boulder, almost from its inception handling applications, admissions, and various student and member services. She tells this story from a time Dr. Rolf was in Colorado:

Dr. Rolf asked me to take her to Trail Ridge, upon the Continental Divide. I drove her up there, but I didn’t know the road, and we ended up traveling some back road. Dr. Rolf said, “This hasn’t changed since 1920 when I was here!”

On the way down from the trail, Dr. Rolf was looking at the trees growing by the road. “See those trees, “she said, “how they’re all vertical? I really like to see all those verticals!”

Dorothy Nolte trained with Dr. Rolf in the 1950’s, and developed the first series of structural integration exercises. She often visited Dr. Rolf, and was close to her in a way different from many later students. She remembers this story of Dr. Rolf’s compassion:

Dr. Rolf was very interested in homeopathy and knew a great deal about it. One time when I was in New York, she said, “Dorothy I want you to do an errand for me.” She gave me a very small amount of a remedy in a powdered form. She sent me to visit a very old patient-old in the sense of years as well as old in the sense of contact with Dr. Rolf-who was dying of cancer. She said, I want you to take this and visit her, talk to her, and whatever comes to you, say it to her.” She told me a little bit about her and what a nice client she had been through the years, and how close she felt toward her. She wanted me to massage her feet and use the remedy on them. Nowadays-I’ve worked in a hospital, I know you just don’t like people coming into do things to your patients I’m saying this because it illustrated her caring and her concern beyond the role of the practitioner toward the client In other words, this was done from her heart.

Of course I did what she asked. Since then I’ve learned a lot about homeopathy. I did look that remedy up and it was a remedy that gave solace and comfort to the last moments of life and eased the pain of cancer regardless of its location.

To me that was an illustration of the heart that she had. Maybe it didn’t show up all the time, but we have to remember (it).

Dorothy also shared with me a favorite story from a class with Dr. Rolf:

Dr. Rolf was working on a client and she was not content with his legs. She kept asking him, “Have you ever broken your legs? What did you do with your legs?” She kept asking, asking, asking. We might even have gotten up to the 8th or 9th hour on whatever leg stuff was connected there for this guy until finally she said, “Were you in the war?” Somehow she must have intuitively tracked this. He said, “Yeah, I was in the war.” And she leaned back on her haunches (this was in the days before tables), and put her hands on her hips, find she said, “What did you do? ” He said, “I was a paratrooper.” Dr Rolf just cracked up. He said, “7 didn’t hurt anything,” and she said, “Yeah, I know; I know!” She was expecting an accident, and then here was this guy jumping from airplanes time after time after time, and all the jamming and compression into the ankle joints and knee joints and hip joints But she knew she’s tracked it, she was right thereat the mouse hole.

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