Experiencing Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI) Sessions
Anatomy Trains Structural Integration (ATSI) sessions can be used to resolve particular problems, as a “tonic” for your posture, movement, and what used to be called “carriage” – how you carry yourself through the world. Your body is your most proximate tool. How do you use it? ATSI structural integration can be seen as an extended course in reacquainting yourself with your body in motion, whether you are a finely-tuned athlete, or a computer-bound couch potato.
Most of us have collected extra tension through the course of our lives, either from injury or surgery, imitation of our parents or heroes, from our repetitive activities, or attitudes we’ve acquired along the way. These injuries and tensions form a pattern in our bodies. Exercise, and our mother’s nagging to ‘Stand up straight!’ may help, but most of this patterning happens below our conscious awareness and becomes part of “who we are”. These patterns become written into our muscular tensions, or skeletal form, and into the tissues that go between: the connective tissues.
The Anatomy Trains SI approach is to free the binding and shortening in these connective tissues, what we refer to as the “fascial network”, and to re-educate the body in efficient and energy-sustaining (as opposed to energy-robbing) patterns.
This process happens over a series of sessions. The Anatomy Trains Structural Integration process has 12 separate and progressive sessions, although the actual number you need may vary. To begin these sessions, your practitioner will talk over your history and help you set realistic goals for the process. He or she may take pictures of your body posture to have a record of where you started or may just examine your postural pattern with you in front of a mirror.
Most structural integration sessions are done in underwear or a bathing suit. Your comfort is paramount, but we need to get directly to the tissues that are restricting the free flow of movement. Much of the session work is done on a treatment table, though some moves are done on a stool or even standing.
The practitioner will contact tissues and ask you to move, thus freeing old restrictions and encouraging the tissues back to a freer place called for by your body’s inherent design. You and your practitioner can work out how deep or how gentle you want the progression to be.
The sessions progress through the body: the first four sessions are generally more superficial, freeing the tissues on the front, back, and sides of the body and freeing the shoulders and arms from any binding to the trunk. The middle four sessions address the “core” of your body, working into the central stabilization muscles closer to the spine. The last four sessions integrate “core” and “sleeve” into your habitual movement (and address specific problems you bring to the table), leaving you with a lasting and progressive change that will echo throughout the rest of your life.