Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2012

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the next four to address posture in your body and in the world. These last four pieces of the recipe are considered the advanced Rolfing sessions and can make a significant difference in the client's neurological system. "I can't explain it," Toporek says. "It just gets to a whole deeper level in the human being. This is your posture in the world." When it comes to the Rolfing recipe, Toporek This photo shows Gordie at his first Rolfing session, and at his 10th. From head to toe, the structural change is significant. he recalls. "I was sitting on the porch of my cabin at Esalen, overlooking the garden and the Pacific Ocean, and saw Ida walking along the path around the garden with a string of the most powerful men at Esalen trailing behind her. I had always wanted to study with a master, and I recognized Ida as one," he says. It took a few years, a lot of work, and spoonfuls of persuasion on his part before Toporek became an Ida student, but he was insistent on pursuing his goal, even in the face of skepticism from some in her circle. A month after meeting his mentor- to-be, Toporek had his first Rolfing session. "It completely changed my experience of myself and my life," he says. From there, his path was set. Under Rolf's tutelage, Toporek learned every element of each of the 14 sessions—the first 10 to address posture in the body and in your life, says he learned from Rolf that it's imperative to start at the beginning. "If you don't start at the beginning, you'll never get anybody to go forward, you'll never get anybody to that core idea, you'll never get that vertical line." He says that he still holds true to the core ideas that Rolf taught him: "Ida said, 'Follow the recipe, trust the recipe, and if you do the recipe well, you will produce outstanding results.'" Toporek remembers many students bringing different techniques and modalities to Rolf. "She was not against any of them, per se, she simply had a pure view of what she knew Rolfing could produce—a body better balanced and aligned in the field of gravity, such that gravity becomes the therapist … She said to work in a person's body, not on their body. Use movement and let the movement create the work." He says Rolf was clear that the work was not a cure-all, "however, if we gave people really great Rolfing sessions, it would produce unprecedented results in their feeling and function." TEN AND DONE? With Gordie's 10th session complete, this stoic man of few words tells Toporek he feels better and has liked coming to see him over the summer. But Mark knows that 10 sessions will not magically relieve all the traumas his father's body has seen. "Lots of aches and pains, and a lot of trauma and anguish and stress have gone through that body," Mark says. "To try and relieve that in 10 sessions would be absurd." But on the way home, as with each of his Rolfing sessions, Gordie Howe—hockey royalty, enforcer, and a man who played his last professional shift at age 70—falls fast asleep in the car within minutes of pulling away. For today, 10 sessions is just fine for hockey's legendary #9. Karrie Osborn is the contributing editor for Massage & Bodywork. Contact her at See what benefits await you. 93

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