Learn More about The tuning board,

a psychokinesthetic tool for embodiment



What is the Tuning Board?

The Tuning Board as a Somatic Therapy Tool

The Tuning Board’s Use in Structural Integration

Using the Tuning Board to Deepen a Yoga Practice

Coming Soon: The Tuning Board as an Instability Resistance Training Device in Physical Therapy

What is the Tuning Board?

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The Tuning Board is a professional quality balancing device ….

· Suitable for professional use;

·  Safer and more stable than any balance board on the market;

·  Gentle, constant, stable motion allows for movement in any plane;

·  Sturdy construction, high-quality long-lasting materials;

·  The engraved design on its surface evokes the 8 cardinal directions;

·  Feeds a fluid sensory experience into the user’s standing body;

·  Centering and grounding are interwoven with movement;

·  The experience is that of a continual gentle dance with gravity.

Because the Tuning Board will never be perfectly still, the individual is challenged to find, and quietly attune to, a relative stability, while surrendering rigidity, fragmentation, and holding patterns to motion.
— Darrell Sanchez, Ph.D.

In all of its possible uses, the Tuning Board….

  • Helps to free obstructions and open the body to the flow of life and energy;

  • Facilitates movement into the deepest areas of our human experience;

  • Brings us into the present moment;

  • Promotes a conscious felt experience of the unity and integration of mind and body;

  • Enhances the intimate relationship of structure, function and experience;

  • Articulates and accelerates re-patterning;

  • Is a doorway into creative process for both practitioner and subject;

  • Is a feedback tool that reveals patterns that would otherwise go unnoticed and unchallenged.

How the Tuning Board got its Name:

Darrell asked me to try to give a name to my experience. What immediately came to me was a sense of ‘attunement’. This is important in the sense that attunement with nature, healthy orienting and defensive responses … can be thrown out of balance when one is traumatized. Attunement is critical for assuring appropriate and timely responses to both opportunity and danger. At the most basic level, it means survival. Darrell’s deceptively simple device was designed as another means of assisting trauma survivors to find their way home to a felt sense of self through their perceptual responses native to a human organism. And so, from this experience of “attunement,” Darrell’s board became ‘The Tuning Board.’
— Anngwyn St. Just, Ph.D., traumatologist, from her book "Relative Balance in an Unstable World: a Search for New Models for Trauma Education and Recovery"

Read also "Dancing with Gravity: Using the Tuning Board to Promote vertical embodiment Resources and Vertical Integration"

…an article by Darrell Sanchez, Ph.D. and Vivian Gettliffe published in the 2016 IASI Yearbook of Structural Integration

The Tuning Board as a Psychokinesthetic Tool for Somatic Therapy

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[Dr. Stone’s] basic thesis is simple. Life energy must flow through the body in a smooth uninterrupted way to maintain optimal health. When the ebb and flow of this life energy becomes blocked or interrupted, the balance of life is disturbed and something must be done to reestablish that balance and the continuity of the free flow of life energy.
— Ray Castellino, DC, RPP

Trauma and Physical Fixations

Health is characterized by centeredness, balance, connectedness, and movement. Experiences of traumatic overwhelm often result in functional and/or structural fixations that hinder the expression of health. These fixations and restrictive patterns, while they may be visible and accessible in the body, extend as well to the other channels of expression of the whole human being, including cognitions, emotions and behavior. The physical fixations might therefore be said to contain information which has the potential to manifest in any of these other channels.


Using the Tuning Board to Reveal Fixations and Work with the Associated Information

We work in gravity with the tuning board to introduce movement at very deep levels in order to reveal and work with these blockages and their associated information. When movement is introduced into a fixation, the information held there may be released and brought to our awareness, and so becomes available for transformation. We then engage with the information that is revealed, a process which leads to transformation in the direction of health.

It is a brilliant invention that enriches every kind of somatic work, particularly SE. To directly learn with Darrell about the many faceted possibilities of using the Tuning Board, is an exquisite opportunity to deepen your own clinical skills
— Peter Levine, Ph.D

Therapists use the Tuning Board with their clients to:


Get Them in Their Bodies

  • Invite fuller embodiment and kinesthetic awareness;

  • Restore a client’s ability to use their own body as a primary resource;

  • Improve the ability of clients to self-calm when anxious.


Connect Them to Their World

  • Train clients to simultaneously maintain internal body awareness and groundedness while fully perceiving and being present in their environment;

  • Encourage clients to be aware of and enjoy the safety and wholeness of the present moment;


Unlock Hidden Information

  • Reveal traumatic fixations through movement;

  • Invite authentic movement and archetypal expression to reveal and release obstructions;

  • Access the whole person through engagement with information held in postures and movement patterns;


Invite Transformative Movement

  • Restore the flow of movement and energy through the body and whole person;

  • Help clients become more flexible and resilient;

  • Encourage creativity and increase confidence through the somatic integration of....
             stability and movement;
             tension and release;
             discomfort and flow.


How Does the Tuning Board Work?


Its continually moving surface places the user into an accelerated experience of constant motion and flow, challenging him or her with a new experience of grounding, orienting, and relating to 3-dimensional space. The experience is that of a continual dance, as centering and grounding are interwoven with movement. Because the Tuning Board will never be perfectly still, the individual is challenged to find, and quietly attune to, a relative stability while surrendering rigidity, fragmentation, and holding patterns to motion.

A variety of interventions which stimulate awareness and imagination are used to address goals in psychotherapy:

  • Exercises to invite fuller embodiment and kinesthetic awareness;

  • Exercises which increase the ability to successfully ground and center;

  • External orienting exercises to encourage simultaneous awareness of the environment and kinesphere, while maintaining awareness and presence in the body;

  • Exercises to restore the flow of movement and energy through the body and whole person;

  • Working with Patterns:
             identification and recognition of patterns;
             movement completion;
             repatterning.

  • Targeted Explorative Movement:
             working with sensations, emotions, cognitions, or imagery;
             working with specific issues.

  • Explorative Movement Targeting Trauma, including....
             explorations of movement completion;
             engagement with or withdrawal from the environment.

  • Non-Targeted Explorative Movement Using Free Association.

Some Basic Concepts Related to the Tuning Board’s Use in Somatic Therapy


Health is Flow

Health is characterized by movement, connection, balance, and centeredness.

People Get Stuck

Life experiences, from traumatic overwhelm or injuries to engrained habits of use, can result in functional and/or structural fixations that hinder the expression of health.

Stuckness Happens in the Whole Person

These fixations and restrictive patterns, while they may be visible and accessible in the body, extend as well to the other channels of expression of the whole human being, including cognitions, emotions and behavior.

Stuckness is Hidden Information

The physical fixations might therefore be said to contain information which has the potential to manifest in any of these other channels.

A Gentle Dance with Gravity Elicits This Information

We work in gravity with the tuning board to introduce movement at very deep levels in order to reveal and work with these blockages and their associated information.

Information + Awareness = Transformation

When movement is introduced into a fixation, the information held there may be released and brought to our awareness, and so becomes available for use in transformation. Engaging with the revealed information leads to transformation in the direction of health.

Read also "Dancing with Gravity"

…an article by Darrell Sanchez, Ph.D. published in Somatic Psychotherapy Today | Winter 2016 | Volume 6 Number 1

and excerpts from "Relative Balance in an Unstable World: A Search for New Models for Trauma Education and Recovery"

by traumatologist Anngwyn St. Just, Ph.D. St. Just describes her work with Tuning Board developer Darrell Sanchez to develop its use as a tool for trauma therapy.

The Tuning Board’s Use in Structural Integration

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I use my Tuning Board often with clients as a tool to promote integration. It improves their intrinsic responsiveness, awareness, connectedness, and motility. I’ve found it especially useful before and after sessions focused on support.
— Boulder Rolfer Vivian Gettliffe
When I started Rolfing, I had no idea how locked up my movement was. I was not allowing movement to flow from my feet to the top of my head. Working on the Tuning Board, I was able to learn what it feels like for movement to propagate from my feet, through ankles and knees to the top of my head and to find my full range of movement with gentle feedback from the board. I now use the Tuning Board to re-find alignment and to feel grounded in my body.
— Rolfing Client
  • Promotes the alignment of the feet, ankles, knees and hips in the vertical posture;

  • Increases the mobility and fluidity of the spine;

  • Improves grounding by increasing responsiveness of feet, ankles and lower legs;

  • Encourages the flow of movement and energy throughout the body;

  • The engraved directional design on top aids in spatial orienting exercises;

  • Excellent tool for improving weight distribution;

  • Promotes balance in structural integration, biomechanical and fitness training;

  • Centering and grounding are interwoven with movement;

  • The experience is that of a continual gentle dance with gravity.

Rolfers who participated in research on the Tuning Board reported that clients they worked with on the boards:

  • became more flexible or resilient;

  • felt that their sensory awareness increased;

  • experienced an improved sense of confidence;

  • exhibited spontaneous unconscious expressions of movement;

  • became better able to cope with stress;

  • became better able to cope with uncertainty;

  • experienced a positive effect on the imagination;

  • improved their abilities to self calm when anxious;


Read also "Dancing with Gravity: Using the Tuning Board to Promote vertical embodiment Resources and Vertical Integration"

…an article by Darrell Sanchez, Ph.D. and Vivian Gettliffe published in the 2016 IASI Yearbook of Structural Integration

And "The Tuning Board"

… an article by Darrell Sanchez, Ph.D. published in Structural Integration: the Journal of the Rolf Institute, Boulder, Colorado; June, 2004.

Using the Tuning Board to Deepen a Yoga Practice

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What is Instability Resistance Training?

            We typically do yoga on a firm, unmoving surface. But, what would happen if we did our postures on an unstable surface? Doing yoga postures on a moving plane provides an extra level of awareness and training to a yoga practice. Using such a surface is referred to as instability resistance training (IRT).  IRT has been shown to improve balance, proprioception, muscular cocontractions and joint stability, in other words, improved strength, coordination, integration and responsiveness of joints and muscles.

The Tuning Board is an instability resistance training device.

What can the Tuning Board do for your yoga?

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 Using an unstable surface to do your yoga asanas has many benefits.

  • It makes us much more aware of our bodies in space and how we begin to relate to each yoga posture.

  • The unstable surface makes us instantly refer to our relationship to balance and centering, both essential in a yoga practice.

  • It enhances the focus of our body/mind connection.

  • The moving surface quickly takes us deep into what the asana is presenting.

            Yoga is a choice. Every time we decide to practice yoga we are valuing ourselves by making a constructive affirmation to mind and body. It takes certain courage to make such a conscious choice. The practice of yoga can very quickly show us limitations that we don’t see or often would rather not admit. The beauty is that it also shows us a way to transform those limitations by engaging as fully as possible with the asanas. In addition to meeting the task of executing the asana the Tuning Board adds another level of challenging balance while working the posture. In this way an unstable surface engages us more fully.

            Yoga can be many things to many people. Any one of the meanings it holds for us can occupy a central theme in our practice. For example, yoga can be an affirmation of health and wholeness and of living an embodied life. It can motivate us to open up our bodies to allow a freer flow of prana (the breath of life) to move through us.

            For some, coordination is an important reason that brings people to yoga. When we stand in mountain or tree poses, for example, we continually make fine adjustments in the field of gravity. The moving plane of an unstable surface accelerates our responsiveness to making adjustments in gravity and takes us deeper into the patterns in the body. Many of those patterns  keep us from a fuller expression of yoga.

            A complement to coordination that also brings meaning to people in yoga is a quest for greater symmetry in being able to execute yoga postures equally on one side of the body and the other. There is a balancing of right/left strength and flexibility of the body as well as a right/left integration of neuromuscular function from performing yoga poses on both sides. In a pose like trikonasana it can become quite clear which side of the body executes better than the other. This awareness gives us the opportunity to work intelligently and improve both sides equally. A very enriching sensation accompanies the practice of seeking symmetry in a yoga practice.

            Meaning in yoga can be about centering, the organization of the body around a vertical center line as in the vertical alignment of the body’s principle masses (the pelvis, thorax, and head) over the feet. Centering can also refer to the mind’s awareness. We can use our practice to stimulate our imaginations to visualize and sense the space around us and the lines of force and movement that the asanas generate. For example, imagine you are standing on a beach or wide open field. Let yourself see and feel lines of force radiating out from you in all directions, front and back, to the sides, above and below. Now imagine lines of force from all those directions converging on you at the heart chakra or any chakra of your choosing. We might begin by imagining this kind of mind and body centering in tadasana, mountain pose, but any posture would suffice. This is a practice of incorporating our internal and external awareness, what happens inside and outside of us and how the two relate.

            We could say that in its essence yoga is about presence, a statement of our being, of how we exist in the world and what that means on a personal level. Existentially it might stimulate the profound question, “What does it mean to be human?” From this perspective, yoga can mean a practice or discipline that integrates the body and the mind in the here and now. Executing asanas brings us to awareness of what we are thinking and feeling. It necessitates our being able to sense the space around us, what is happening inside us and how they interact. Quickly, insights emerge into how our bodies feel when we participate in the postures. We also soon see how we relate mentally and emotionally to limitations and breakthroughs that challenge and reward us to strengthen and change from a yoga practice. We more clearly see how our minds work with regard to ourselves. Do we become harsh and self-critical? Do we realize patience and self-compassion?

            Of all the ways that yoga has meaning for people there is one that we all encounter and cannot avoid. Yoga is a paradox. This is not strange to those who practice the yin and yang of yoga. Moving through asanas embodies the yin of receiving sensory information from the body and the yang of activating motor responses. In the mind it is the coexisting opposites of focused concentration and open spaciousness of a conscious yoga practice. There is probably nothing that demonstrates this exquisite synchronicity of opposites more than the paradox of motion and stability in dynamic balance. Balance as dynamic means that it is not a fixed state. Its stillness is always in relation to fine adjustments in gravity. Finding that exquisite balance between the motion of a growing posture and the grounded stability of a strong core is a very alive, coordinated and integrated experience. We can find this from the very beginning simply standing in mountain pose and throughout all the standing postures.

           Doing balance asanas on the Tuning Board demands a greater sense of presence and awareness. From the swaying of the body, sensory information travels from the bottom of the feet and other areas of the body to the brain which activates motor responses that maintain equilibrium. The Tuning Board accelerates this deepening into what the mind and the body must do to work with a posture. A subtler level of coordination, integration and responsiveness are evoked. With that comes a deeper sense of understanding of what a felt experience of embodiment is like. As a result there is a quickening under the feet accompanied by greater proprioceptive stimulation and returning motor responsiveness. As the brain and spinal cord become more deeply involved, the sense of presence, of awareness, is heightened.

            Yoga carries an inherent sense of enrichment and accomplishment. There is a joy in learning to move parts of the body and aspects of the mind together as one. Awareness of body sensations and spatial perceptions supports important skills for monitoring internal experiences and personal relationships. Yoga instills confidence in movement of the body while helping calm the mind and emotions. One does not need to use IRT for all of one’s yoga practice all of the time. But, using the Tuning Board can hasten all of the beneficial meanings discussed above.

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Certified Advanced Rolfer

Licensed Professional Counselor

Movement/Therapy/Dance Instructor

Serving Boulder & Denver, Colorado

since 1986

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