Ida P. Rolf, a native New Yorker, graduated from Barnard College in 1916 and gained a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. For the next twelve years she worked at the Rockefeller Institute, first in the Department of Chemotherapy and later in the Department of Organic Chemistry.
In 1927, she took a leave of absence from her work to study mathematics and atomic physics at the Swiss Technical University in Zurich.
Returning from Europe, she spent the decade of the 1930’s seeking answers to personal and family health problems. Medical treatment available at that time seemed inadequate to her; this led to her exploration of osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, yoga, and the Alexander technique.
By the 1940’s, she was working in a Manhattan apartment where her schedule was filled with people seeking help. She was committed to the scientific point of view, and yet many breakthroughs came intuitively through the work she did with chronically disabled people unable to find help elsewhere. This was the work eventually to be known as Structural Integration.
For the next thirty years, Ida Rolf devoted herself to developing her technique and training programs.
Then, in the mid-60’s, Dr. Rolf was invited to Esalen Institute in California where she began training practitioners and instructors of Structural Integration.
The more Structural Integration classes Ida Rolf taught, the more students sought admission to training. Newspaper and magazine articles began to pick up on Dr Rolf and her work, and soon the necessity for a formal organisation became apparent. As early as 1967, the first Guild for Structural Integration was loosely formed and eventually headquartered in a private home in Boulder, Colorado. Until her death in 1979, Ida Rolf actively advanced training classes, giving direction to her organisation, planning research projects, writing, publishing and public speaking.
In 1977, she wrote Rolfing: The Integration of Human Structures. This book is the major written statement of Ida P. Rolf’s scholastic and experiential investigation into the direct intervention with the evolution of the human species.
Another book compiled by Dr. Rolf’s close associate and companion: Rosemary Feitis, is Ida Rolf Talks About Rolfing and Physical Reality. It is truly a jewel: giving us insights into Dr. Rolf’s unique and incredible mind.
For a very personal account of Dr Rolf and those who were taught by her, “Remembering Ida” is a very informative and endearing resource.
Today Structural Integration is taught by two major institutions;
Both contain teachers originally taught by Dr Rolf and are committed to promoting and developing Structural Integration across the world.