New bodywork practice opens on Orcas

Holistic Alignment is a new bodywork practice in Eastsound.

A type of structural integration known as Hellerwork® is now available from island resident Julie McNeill, a board-certified structural integration practitioner. After a 25-year career as a registered nurse and nurse anesthetist and her certification as a yoga therapist, McNeill was inspired to explore how she could better help people find relief from their discomfort, feel better in their bodies and participate proactively in their own health care.

By combining bodywork, movement education and somatic dialogue, Hellerwork® Structural Integration reveals the interconnectedness of how we use, experience and shape our bodies so we can find improved mobility and posture, ease discomfort and develop a whole-body coherence.

Hands-on bodywork focuses on fascia, a connective tissue that wraps the entire body and envelops muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs. Fascia can become rigid or shortened by previous injuries, continual tension and chronic holding or habitual movement patterns. Restricted fascia in just one area of the body can create additional lines of strain throughout and discomfort in other areas. By identifying tension and unwinding patterns of strain in the body, the body is supported in moving toward alignment and a more balanced posture.

Movement education is for both the client’s awareness and the body itself. It enables identification and understanding of individual movement patterns that may lead to restriction and discomfort and re-educates the body to find improved alignment and more efficient movement.

Somatic dialogue provides a safe space for clients to pay attention to what they are experiencing in their body and better understand it. This awareness helps to develop insight into one’s unique body-mind dynamic.

McNeill discovered Hellerwork® after she sustained an injury from a physical activity she enjoyed multiple times a week. The practitioner helped her discover how after a lifetime of habitual holding and movement patterns, her alignment had developed in an unbalanced way that led directly to her injury.

“Unfortunately, I then took those unconscious patterns into my activities of yoga, running and strength training,” said McNeill. “I ignored the messages of discomfort my body was sending me until an actual injury forced me to stop doing the activities I enjoyed. Through Hellerwork®, not only did I find relief from my discomfort, but I deepened my understanding of ‘how’ and ‘why’ I hold and use my body in that pattern.”

McNeill says she is honored to provide her services to the Orcas Island community. For more information, contact her at or 360-200-1524.