THE INTEGRATION EQUATION
Growing up in Australia, Sonia Sommer loved sports— tennis, track and field, triathlons, skiing—she did them all. While working with the Australian Freestyle Ski team, she became an intern at the Australian Institute of Sport, which is where her education in Structural Integration (SI), also known as Rolfing™, first began. Developed by biochemist, Ida Rolf in 1971, SI was born out of her desire to relieve pain in chronically disabled people and seeks to return the body to its natural state of equilibrium by manually freeing up adhesions in fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscles). Sommer, who trained in Colorado with Tom Myers, a student of Ida Rolf’s, moved to Ketchum with her former husband 15 years ago, and opened Sonia Sommer Structural Integration.
What is Structural Integration?
Structural Integration (SI) brings patterns of distortion back into balance so that people can move around free of pain and get a better psychological outlook on the world. It’s the most amazing process that I’ve come across.
How do you define your practice?
I like to separate it from massage because it’s so different in its intention, which is to change things, whereas massage deals with what is there. There is a lot mutual observation that goes on. We watch how patients walk, how they breathe and how they move. A fair bit of reeducation of those habits goes on in the process as well as practices to facilitate change. It’s really its own beast.
What are the benefits of Structural Integration?
Essentially you get to be who you really are again. People come in because they just want to be out of pain. Many of them are hardcore athletes who are starting to break down. I try to return them to their best possible selves athletically. Other people come for the deeper results. They’ll shed patterns in themselves psychologically and get to feel free again. Ultimately, your body is a representation of everything that has ever happened to you. When you change your body, you change your life.
What’s the emotional impact of Structural Integration?
You can’t separate the physical from the emotional. Anything that’s been emotionally stored in your system over time will get released, and we store things all the time. We can’t always experience them in the moment because we have other things to do, like go to work for instance. So in going through SI, people oftentimes fully re-experience things either when they’re on the table or later on, at home.
Who inspires you?
At this moment in time, it’s Ida Rolf, who came up with this work. She was a pioneer and a really strong, multi-dimensional woman.
How do you find balance?
Sometimes I feel like I’m riding a unicycle juggling lots of balls. I practice Qigong. I take really good care of myself and have really good people in my life. I try not to take it all too seriously—I just have fun.