Q and A

Q: How did the Art of Yield evolve?

A : I am relatively sensitive to pressure, so I was looking for a way to touch people in the way that I would like to be touched. I saw many Rolfers hurting themselves by using too much pressure with elbows, knuckles, or fingers in their practices. We are body/wellness professionals teaching others how to live and move with more ease. There should be a consistency between what I am doing and what I am teaching the client. I wanted to find a way to work with more ease.
Just after becoming a certified Rolfer in 1998, I took a gentleman in his eighties through a Ten Series. He was very satisfied with the work because his tinnitus improved. However, the Series didn’t yet feel complete for him. I gave him a post-ten session using a prototype of the Art of Yield touch in which I simply put my fingers under him and followed the motility. He really appreciated it, and I felt a true ‘closure’ of the Series that had resulted in meaningful structural change. Soon after that, another client came to my office. He was suffering from severe constipation. His skin was so slick and waxy that I finally had to give up using manual techniques to affect his structure, and took him through the Ten Series using exclusively movement work. Interestingly, by the end, his constipation was resolved and his skin became more normal. These cases, together with various other people who had skin conditions or other reasons for not being able to tolerate direct fascial manipulation, forced me to improvise. They ended up becoming great resources for the development of the Art of Yield.
[There were other influences too.] In my Advanced Training in 2002, my left shoulder was strained, so it was difficult to use my elbow during practice sessions. Fortunately, I was able to have a private Rolf Movement session with Vivian Jaye. During that session, the epiphysis of my humerus found ‘home’ with a loud pop, and my shoulder was completely fixed. It was a dramatic change, and I was able to experience the power and potential of movement work in a very deep way. Before that, an event happened during my Rolf Movement training in 1999. The instructor, Carol Agneessens, gently touched my low back and head without stretching or forcing decompression. I felt my spine elongating spontaneously. It was the first time I had felt this kind of motility response. This experience ignited my curiosity to find a way to evoke this kind of reaction more frequently.
Also during the Rolf Movement training, we were introduced to the concept of yield as the first movement underlying all movement.1 With this new foundational understanding, I recognized a bridge between my experience in cellular biology and the practice of structural integration. It dawned on me that this touch may act to stimulate a collective response in cells, providing scaffolding for enhanced motility.
That was the turning point in my Rolfing career. Since that class, I have been actively experimenting with the yield touch in my practice. I find that when I intentionally use the touch to introduce cellular scaffolding, the client responds more easily.

Q : Why do you think this minimalist intervention can create such significant change ?

A : Imagine the body as if it were jigsaw puzzle. As Rolfers, we know that if we only change one piece without including the entire picture, the change will not hold. Trying to keep track of the jigsaw puzzle while we are working has the potential to block us from sensing the living, breathing whole. By working at the cellular level, it becomes possible to bypass the individual pieces of the puzzle. One tiny shift of a cell transmits information to all the cells and holographically affects the whole field. This results in systemic coherency, or what I call ‘palintonic harmony’. The cell is different from a jigsaw puzzle piece, it is more dynamic and more responsive.

Q : How does Art of Yield fit within with the traditional Rolfing paradigm?

A : I blend Rolfing SI, Rolf Movement, and the yield touch with the Ten Series, taking photos before and after the sessions. The Art of Yield evokes structural change and integration in a new way by using the client’s system to make the decisions about where to go. I use the classical territory of the session as a portal to the system, instead of trying to change the part that I am touching. We establish a functional goal at the beginning of the session as you would in any Rolfing session. However, I use my internal sensations, as well as my awareness of the field, as the primary tool to create change. Each time I touch the body, I am feeling for the resonance of the entire body in that place. For example, when I put my hand lightly on the knee, I feel for the resonance of all the diaphragms through the knee. I often find the change starts to happen after releasing my hand from the body and stepping back to observe the wave.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

People often ask me if this intervention is a kind of energy work. I do not see it as energy work, despite the very light and brief interventions. I see The Art of Yield as a movement intervention. It allows the practitioner to discern and follow a more extensive range of change. In the early stages, I thought I would be using the Art of Yield only for pressure-sensitive people, but over time, I am finding it is appropriate for everyone.


The Art of Yield approach is a derivation of ‘yield’ touch being taught in some Rolf Movement trainings. A key difference is that integral in Tahata’s approach is the ongoing inclusion of the practitioner’s perception, which creates the field the work occurs in. For more information, see the article entitled “Yielding” in the June 2012 issue of Structural Integration. From that article: “Yield is the first developmental movement. Often misunderstood as a passive surrendering or a ‘doing nothing’, yielding is in fact an active coming into relationship and is the fundamental movement behavior underlying all others.” The issue also includes an article by Tahata called “Case Studies with Yielding,” where you can read more about his process and see before and after photos of his clients.