Entering the playground of Rolfing® – My experience of Level 1 Training

By Stephanie Aimée Poole 

Can you remember that feeling of excitement when you were a kid, and you were about to visit a new playground? A playground that maybe your friends or your parents already told you a little bit about and that sounded just too good to be true? A playground that, so they told you, had many different attractions and areas that sounded immensely interesting? One that you just could not wait to enter and explore, marvelling about what you would be about to discover?” 

This was the exactly the feeling of excitement I had when I decided to enter Level 1 of Rolfing® Structural Integration training. I was about halfway through receiving my first Rolfing 10-Series, teaching yoga for three years, in the middle of finding a new job and had just relocated to a new country after nine months of travelling.  

It was the perfect time to start something new and I was craving for something so deeply purposeful in my profession that it felt like it was pulling me towards the formation. However, signing up for Level 1, I said to myself I will see how it goes and if it will be for me. I wasn’t yet sure that I was going to take the full training towards becoming a Certified Rolfer®. 


Learning Movement, Anatomy, and Rolfing Touch  

So, my metaphor of a playground is, from my perspective, a rather fitting description because the Level 1 training really is space for exploration. The modules are themed around three main aspects of the Rolfing method, which are Movement, Anatomy, and Touch, and they begin to introduce you to the concepts of Rolfing in a very playful and engaging way.  

I felt like Charlie who is for the first-time visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.”  

Me and my fellow students were wondrously eyeballing at our teachers, hanging on their lips and attentively listening, trying to catch every piece of information they shared with us.  

We were delighted when we learned to magically let our fingers sink through different layers of human tissue from the skin to the deeper layers of fascia when Kathrin taught us how to touch.  

We were listening with open mouths and big eyes to Conny, who was teaching us about human anatomy like a storyteller who has the most fascinating stories to tell about the development, meaning and manifestation of human form from the beginning as an embryo in the mother’s womb up to the day when we finally rest into gravity.  

It was not just about learning names and locations of muscles and bones, but it was making sense, it was rich, and it was palpable and coming alive right under our hands.” 

And of course, there was Movement class with Nicola. He is not only in love with expressing and making sense through language, masterfully weaving etymology into his teaching, but who also helps you to explore a whole new world and new spaces in your own body through movement. Watching his demoes, exploring the movement in embodiments and learning how to organise your own body before touching others was such a valuable learning, not only for Rolfing education, but for life and connection to my environment in general. 


Studying at the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute® Europe 

So maybe you already get the point I am trying to make here. Never before had I experienced a ‘school setting’ or learning experience that was so engaging and playful yet deep and dense in information and delightfully entertaining all at the same time.  

It was a period of profound self-exploration, a period well spent surrounded by interesting, open-minded, and compassionate people.” 

To be honest, I did enter the Rolfing training with no specific expectations. I was just curious. And this curiosity was met with such a richness of experience and knowledge, vast yet totally practical and clear at the same time.  

It opened a box for me and there was no way that I could stop here. I needed to know and experience more. This I was one hundred percent sure of.“ 

And at the same time, I came out of the training already able to do effective and meaningful explorations with my friends at home. I had been given precious resources to start playing with structure and to help other people to improve and ease it. I am glad I did not stop here, but even if I had, this first introductory level already changed so much about my perspective on life, relationships, teaching yoga … just everything. 

So just like on a playground, you take home with you what you enjoy the most, you learn and master new skills, you make new friends and perhaps you even dare to dip one toe a little bit out of what, up to now, felt comfortable for you.” 


Text: Rolfing Student & Yoga teacher Stephanie Aimée Poole - Austria  

Photos: Bettina Hüttner

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