What is SOMA?
SOMA Neuromuscular Integration® is a form of bodywork that uses a systematic approach to re-educate the body to be aligned in gravity. Over time, the body can forget its natural alignment. Postural deficiencies, repetitive movements, injury compensation, and emotional holding create tension in the body, leading to imbalance. Uncorrected, the effects of imbalance and tension are exacerbated by the force of gravity, often leading to pain and decreased mobility.
Soma works to rebalance the body and restore its natural alignment. The effects of the work can include reduced pain, improved posture and increased mobility. Soma has the greatest benefit when experienced as “the series” — 11 sessions, each designed to address specific areas of the body while bringing balance to the whole. The combination of deep tissue bodywork, movement education and increased body awareness leads to a body that can move effortlessly with ease and grace.
History of SOMAIda P. Rolf
Soma Neuromuscular Integration® finds its origin in the structural explorations of Ida P. Rolf, a Ph.D. Biochemist with an interest in healing. Through extensive study of the body and the effects of manipulating its tissue, she determined that the body functions optimally when its segments are aligned in gravity. Dr Rolf developed a series of bodywork sessions that, combined with movement education, enabled the body to correct imbalances and re-align its structure thereby allowing issues with the body to resolve. This is the basis of the bodywork modality known as Structural Integration and Rolf’s 10 session series has become the standard application of this work.
In 1977, Dr Rolf granted colleague Bill Williams, a Ph.D. Psychologist and Certified Rolfer, the right to blend the series with his work on psychology and energy. By layering emotional and psychological components on top of the physical work, Williams developed a methodology that addressed the connection between mind, body, and spirit and the result was Soma.
In 1986, Williams transferred ownership of the Soma Institute of Neuromuscular Integration to Karen Bolesky, M.A., L.M.H.C, L.M.P. Under the guidance of Bolesky, the Institute continues to develop the modality and to educate Soma practitioners. Maintaining the view that humans are multidimensional beings, the work continues to focus on attaining optimal alignment and function in gravity for the physical body while providing a connection between the mind, body and spirit. Soma brings ease and grace in movement and increases awareness of the body and how it exists in its environment. Ultimately, this translates to adaptability and the ability to experience life more completely.
How SOMA Works
SOMA uses a systematic approach to work the body’s tissue and resolve patterns of holding that cause imbalance. Through a series of sessions, specifically implemented in a sequence to maximize the response and re-education of the body, a practitioner will first do deep work to unbind the fascia and release areas of excess tension causing imbalance. This process is called differentiation and is designed to allow segments of the body to move freely and independently.
Once release work is complete, the process of integration begins. Again the tissue is worked but in a fashion to rebuild communication and connectivity between the segments of the body. Muscles don’t work in isolation so there should be communication all through the body to work as an efficient whole, not a bunch of disjointed segments. This creates efficiency and awareness of movement in the body.
Throughout the process practitioners provide movement education to enable clients to bring awareness to how they move and how their body feels when moving. The mind is connected to the body and engaged in how it functions. This can help to break old detrimental patterns that cause imbalance in the body while retraining the body to work efficiently and helping to set the new, optimal alignment.
At the end of the series, with the body in balance, compensations and stresses on the tissue are relieved and the body should then be able to function in an optimal state. Instead of fighting the effects of gravity, the client can move freely and with ease.