Ida Rolf and Moshe Feldenkrais

“There is one first rule of Rolfing®. If at first you don’t succeed, get the hell out! It is somewhere else. There is no use just taking hammer and tongs and trying to pull it apart. The whole trick of Rolfing is going around and around and around and not barging through. Get the system sufficiently resilient so that it is able to change, and it will change. You have to avoid forcing at all costs.” —Ida P. Rolf PhD

Ida Rolf - creator of Rolfing

Ida Rolf – Creator of Rolfing

Ida Rolf was born in New York City and she graduated from Barnard College in 1916. She completed her doctorate in biological chemistry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1920.

Dr. Rolf worked at the renowned Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research as an Associate Professor. She also studied homeopathic medicine in Geneva, as well as atomic physics and mathematics at the Swiss Technical University in Zurich.

Structural Integration or Rolfing

Dr. Rolf applied her knowledge to seek answers for the health issues of her family and friends. She did not accept the limitations of medicine at the time, and instead, explored and integrated a wide range of approaches.

“Bringing together such a rich variety of perspectives, Dr. Rolf discovered that she could achieve remarkable changes in posture and structure by manipulating the body’s myofascial system.”

Dr. Rolf named this body of work “Structural Integration,” which later came to be known as “Rolfing®.”


Dr. Feldenkrais Influenced Rolf’s Work

When Ida Rolf was asked who influenced her work, she usually never gave an answer.

However, one day when William Schutz, an American psychologist, asked Rolf this question, she answered:

Dr. Feldenkrais—his book Body and Mature Behavior— the chapter on gravity.

Moshé Feldenkrais and Rolf Become Friends

Moshé Feldenkrais and Ida Rolf became friends and below is a letter he wrote to Ida on her birthday.

(Click on the image to enlarge the letter.)

Moshe Feldenkrais letter to Ida Rolf

It was during this time that Dr. Feldenkrais was in San Francisco, CA, teaching his first Professional Training in 1976. (Anat Baniel was in this training group.)

After Ida Rolf passed away on March 19, 1979, Moshé Feldenkrais wrote about her death in another letter:

“I am really moved by the news of the extinction of Ida Rolf, a very good friend of mine and a formidable woman who would be an honour to any nation.”

View a portion of this letter below.

(Click on the image to enlarge the letter.)

Moshe Feldenkrais writes about Ida Rolf