Soma Neuromuscular Integration

photo by jim rowinski

Soma Neuromuscular Integration is a form of deep bodywork that addresses the
structure of the body in relation to the field of gravity.  Working in a series
of sessions, (based on sessions developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, founder of Rolfing) we address the body as a whole, layer by layer, to improve alignment for increased ease, grace and fluidity in the world.  By unwinding the body from past compensation patterns that no longer serve the individual, and employing movement re-education, we can remind the body of  its optimal, harmonious, self-healing state.  By looking at the body as a whole mechanism and addressing the entire inter-related system, we stop chasing symptoms and work instead towards creating vibrant health in the entire being... body, mind and soul.

What is Soma?

-Soma is a form of deep, soft-tissue bodywork.  The intent of Soma is to affect the structure, posture and alignment of the body by working with fascia, which surrounds the muscles, nerves, organs and bones of the body.

-Soma works in a series of 11 sessions.  In each session, one area of the body and a specific goal for the body is addressed.  Each session builds on the one before it.  We follow exactly what the body needs, in the order that it needs it.  Because of this, the mind has a chance to literally re-member the body so that the body not only holds the work, but continues to evolve the work long after the sessions are over.

-Soma works to unravel our habitual compensation patterns and re-educates the body to move and function in a more energetically efficient way.

-Soma works the body in layers, releasing each layer and integrating the entire person so that one becomes lighter and moves with grace and ease.

-Soma clients are engaged in the process through the use of drawing, journaling, and self awareness activities, all aimed at making the process and journey meaningful.

-Soma is a study of wholism, a view of the body as more than a collection of its parts but as a dynamic and awe-inspiring system of interactions where nothing can be isolated and separate. 
The Sessions

Session 1

Free the tissue surrounding the rib cage and lengthen the front line of the chest, resulting in feelings of lightness and well-being, a more upright posture and fuller deeper breathing.

Session 2
Focus on the body's foundation, the lower legs and feet, which brings a sense of being firmly grounded and in touch with reality.

Session 3
Lengthen the sides of the body and free the shoulder, so breathing can expand for greater relaxation and more immediate energy.

Sessions 4, 5, and 6
Adjust and lengthen the center line, or core, that runs vertically through the body.  After these sessions, walking takes a fraction of the energy typically expended, with improved balance and freedom of movement.

Session 7
Release the muscles of the neck, face and head, resulting in a more softened and relaxed appearance in the face and an increased feeling of self-reliance and personal power.

Session 8, 9, and 10
Integrate the whole body in a new and more energy efficient manner.  Energy and vitality increase as the body's structure becomes more aligned and balanced in gravity.

Arm Session
An additional session that focuses on releasing and integrating the myofascial wrappings of the arms and shoulders.


Somassageis a full body massage that was developed from the principles of Soma Neuromuscular Integration.  Structural re-balancing of the body's fascial web is the goal of Soma. This re-ordering process, once completed requires a long period of time for the body to finish integrating the new balance (usually 6 months to year or more).During this period many people still want some regular type of bodywork maintenance program. This need is met effectively by the Somassage.

Somassage is different than Swedish or deep tissue massage. The differences are:

-The client participates in the session. They are requested to bring their self into a focused presence; to feel into their body.

-The end result is different than massage. In Somassage the client is relaxed the energy is mobilized. This energizes the client rather than the relaxed feeling after other massages.

-One intent of Somassage is to address the suspensory component inherent in an easeful upright posture. The body is worked in a very different direction than other massage. This directionality supports the sense of greater suspension and vertically.

-Somassage is used in combination with treatment work for injuries while reinforcing a global awareness of the body's connectedness.

-Somassageuses the Holographic Body Reading.  It looks at each client to develop the session very specifically around the needs of that client.

Somassage is not Structural Integration like Soma Bodywork, but is a whole body deep massage that was developed using some of the underlying foundations of Soma theory. The body is approached through a holistic view, both physically and psychologically. The Somassage is client-centered, and the body is more sacred than the recipe. The client is taught to utilize movement to aid their body in continuing the wellness process. Since Somassage is not Structural Integration, the work is not permanent but must be repeated regularly like other massage techniques. Somassage was developed for people who have had Structural Integration; however, it is highly effective for people who have never been touched. It allows  release of tension, increased flexibility, promotes relaxed energy, and recognizes the body. Many massage therapists who have learned this technique say their clients love the Somassage technique and regularly ask for Somassage.

(much of this information is excerpted from the Soma Institute website,

Jennifer Lovejoy, Portland OR

Certified Soma Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), Equine Massage Therapist (LAMP), KRI Certified Yoga Teacher, Centered Riding Instructor, Level 1

"Be strong then, and enter into your own body. There you have a solid place for your feet. Think about it carefully!  Don’t go off somewhere else!  Kabir says this, just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things, and stand firm in that which you are."     Kabir


Clients report:

-reduction or elimination of pain

-improved body awareness

-increased ease in the body and mind

-enhanced personal awareness

-improved emotional balance

-improved appearance

-increased energy and athletic ability

-improved posture and balance

-increased agility of the mind

-improvement of the body’s speed of recovery from activity, stress, or trauma 

-increased fluidity and grace of  movement 

-increased self-confidence and self-reliance

-increased levity

Clients often say that they feel lighter and more open to express themselves fully in life.  Soma work is a dynamic and ongoing process.  The work continues to grow with and support the individual long after the completion of the sessions.    


photo by jim rowinski

History of Soma
Dr. Ida P. Rolf

Soma Neuromuscular Integration as a modality formally began in 1977. Bill Williams Ph.D. and Ellen Gregory-Williams Ph.D.together developed SOMA as a distinct form of Structural Integration. Ten-session Structural Integration began 55 years ago by Dr. Ida P. Rolf. The Rolf Institute was founded in 1971 as the first organization to train Rolf practitioners. Dr. Williams was the first Rolfer to leave the Rolf Institute to develop a structural school: SOMA Institute of Neuromuscular Integration.  Many structural schools now exist as heirs of Dr. Ida Rolf.

In the early development of structural bodywork, the focus was primarily on body structure and how that structure related to gravity. Dr. Williams, a Psychologist , began to embrace the body, mind and spirit as a non-separate whole. The Soma theory and teaching continues to reflect this basic foundation of wholeness of the body, mind and spirit.

Karen  Bolesky is the current owner of the SOMA Institute and continues to develop and create the evolvement of Soma.


Client Journey Book

The process of going through the Soma series is one of change and growth.  We provide a Journey Book for each client which includes inspirational readings, meditations and journaling exercises that relate to each session to support and enhance the personal experience.

To view a pdf of the Journey Book, please click here...