Rolfing update: Even my tongue is stiff

After a two-week hiatus, I was back on the Rolfing table on Thursday night.

And it came just in time.

As I told Russ, about last Friday I felt like I had lost all the stuff I was gaining. My posture and gait seemed to have slipped back to the old style; it was time for a re-tune.

Russ didn’t seemed freaked by this, and he started to work on this week’s area: the head and neck.

Things went a bit south from there.

He quickly discovered a little spot on the right side of my neck — a tight spot, if that isn’t clear — and said that he didn’t remember it. It seemed to change his approach.

He ended up diving into my upper back. I almost mean that literally*. He was working as hard as I think he has, and it felt like he was putting as much weight and force as possible into his hands (thus the diving metaphor). As I lay there, I thought about what Tim Miller had said to me as I left Encinitas a few weeks ago: “You’re too stiff to break.” I laughed to myself as Russ tried to work through this, until I finally told him what Tim had said. “Now, do you see why my backbends suck?” I asked.

He laughed. “Yeah, we’ve got some serious work here,” Russ said. And he dug in more.

This week, we also talked a bit more about why I might be so stiff. I remain convinced it’s congenital; Bobbie disagrees. Russ, I’d say, is playing it close to the vest and is somewhere in between.

Whatever the reason, I definitely approach the world head on (literally [ha!] and figuratively), and don’t take it in, let it come to me. My engagement with the world — and these are my words, not Russ’ — involves my touching it, but not letting it touch me. (There probably is a male principle versus female principle sidebar here, which is funny because I don’t think in most cases I fall into a neatly traditional “male perspective.”)

But this what I’m supposed to be working on, along with the connection between lifting your head and your bandhas. And to find this perspective, it is about relaxing (i.e. surrendering, i.e. hard for me, see our Friday asana aid) and letting “the walls see you,” Russ said. And it is about being back in my head — not head first into the world.

Amazingly, I managed this briefly today, for a moment while walking through the hallways of my office. Yes, at work. And it was, however briefly, a total alteration in consciousness. (Thus, hard to put into words now.) Shapes seemed different; lines along the floor and walls appeared longer. Colors were off-hue. It felt like there were shadows where there weren’t shadows. The world also sounded muffled.

But it also felt a bit more gently, a bit more peaceful.

Weird, huh? We’ll see if I can manage this again. The trick seems to be to get your brain farther back in your head. Yeah, I know. Sounds weird to me, too.


During the Rolfing session, as always, there were a few moments when the sensations were pretty strong, and there are two spots on either side of my spine, maybe four inches from the hair line, that are tender to the touch. As I think about it, it probably is about where Russ wanted my neck “to start” as opposed to much higher up.

But the craziest moment — perhaps in rival to the strange consciousness change from today — was when Russ was working on my face and head. (That was strange in and of itself.) He went and grabbed a towel, and he told me to stick out my tongue, grab it and pull on it, gently.

I want you to remember, we are nearly done with Session No. 7 of the 10-session package at this point.

Well, this was the step too far for me. Why, I don’t know.

I said something that was the not safe for work version of: “Are you kidding me?”

He wasn’t. I need to pull on my tongue, loosen it up. Because “even your tongue is stiff,” Russ told me. And it’s a yogi thing, he pointed out. They get their tongues back up into their sinuses. Some even cut the bottom connection of the tongue to facilitate this, I added. (Always nice to show how smart you are!)

Well, I can say that I’m hating this. Grabbing the tongue is, in a word, gross. I can feel it, hours later. Dry and tasteless and, yuck!

But I’ll keep trying, grabbing and pulling. Because, apparently, I want Second Series postures just that much.

Posted by Steve

* The improper use of “literally” is a Confluence Countdown pet peeve. It typically is used with a metaphor (exactly the opposite of what “literally” means), and for some evil reason is now intended to be an emphasis of a point. Joe Biden used one on Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention, something along the lines of America “literally” being on the edge of a economic crisis. Umm… no Joe.

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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