But I’m not flexible enough for yoga.
I am currently studying Gentle Somatic Yoga which does not include much stretching and definitely not holding “stretches” for more than a few seconds. I will explain what Gentle Somatic Yoga is, why I’m obsessed with it, why you should try it, and why stretching isn’t always the answer.
As a yoga teacher I hear “I can’t touch my toes” or “I’m not flexible enough for yoga” all the time from people wanting to try yoga but thinking they aren’t flexible enough to do it. That’s one of the reasons to practice yoga is to gain mobility and range of motion. But also flexibility isn’t what it is all about.
As a Licensed Massage Therapist I know that flexibility isn’t always the best thing for everyone. Hyper-mobility or think of it as being very flexible or double jointed (no such thing as double jointed – this is just how it is known ) can cause pain and loss of stability and strength. I would suggest for everyone to try but specifically hyper-mobile folks to give Gentle Somatic Yoga a try.
Gentle Somatic Yoga means to be “Embodied” or to work from the inside out. It is a way to re-pattern the brain to muscle connection to help release the muscles. Unlike Hatha Yoga (typical yoga in the U.S.) we don’t stretch the muscles we pandiculate the muscles. An example of pandiculation is watching a dog stretch first thing after waking up they gently contract the muscles, lengthen, then release. Definition of “pandiculation” muscles are gently contracted and slowly released to help retrain the nervous system and allow muscle to release.
Through the Gentle Somatic Yoga flows you will retrain your brain to muscle connection, release tension, correct your posture, and most of all turn inward. Be prepared to move slowly but intentionally.
In Gentle Somatic Yoga we release and not stretch because we do not want to activate the myotactic reflex or stretch reflex. This reflex causes a muscle that is stretched to recoil to protect itself from injury therefore contracting it and not releasing it.
Another thing you will learn in Gentle Somatic Yoga is called Sensory Motor Amnesia which is when a muscle forgets how to release. You can get massage’s or work out tension with a lacrosse balls but with Sensory Motor Amnesia the muscle tension will basically come back after a short time but with practicing GSY you retrain the brain how to find a “normal” or “new normal/released state”.
Gentle Somatic Yoga has been known to ease these conditions:
•PTSD •Chronic Pain •Poor Posture •Muscle Spasms •Arthritis •Headaches/Migraines (has helped me tremendously with mine) •Parkinson’s disease • Multiple Sclerosis • Fibromyalgia
As well as many others…..
Through practicing Gentle Somatic Yoga or subtle mindful movement you will become more aware and it can increase your overall well-being.
So, no, you don’t need to touch your toes. There is so much more to yoga then that. Think increased mobility or functionality versus flexibility. Yoga is a full body practice physical, mental, emotional, and can be spiritual.
There are so many different types of yoga out there, I suggest you try many and find what works for you. If you live with chronic pain I strongly suggest you give Gentle Somatic Yoga a try.
I studied with James Knight who started Gentle Somatic Yoga you can learn more here http://www.gentlesomaticyoga.com
You can learn more about me or to find my schedule check out http://www.embodiedworks.net
Wrote by Toni Caroline Meeks
Edited by Cynthia Campbell
Unfortunately I am no longer offering Massage Therapy.
I have been asked who I recommend or refer to so here is a list of fellow massage therapist I have had massages from, worked with and trust.
I recommend for Therapeutic Massage in the Tulsa, OK area:
•Barb Mann – Licensed Massage Therapist and Acupuncturist. Located in Sand Springs 918-798-2449
• Kevin Moore – Deep Tissue & Sports Massage at St John’s 918-504-5686
• Katie at Revitalize Massage Therapy – Therapeutic & Medical Massage at 101st & Sherridan 918-694-2133
• Tracy at Bella Vita Spa and Salon – in Therapeutic & Relaxation in Bixby 918-369-8482
To book with me online for Personal Training or Yoga at http://www.vagaro.com/embodiedworks
Some of my certifications and continuing education are under my previous legal & maiden name Carolyn Meeks or Carolyn Smith. Now Caroline Meeks but you can call me “Toni” after my middle name.
Yoga & Fitness:
NASM – Certified Personal Trainer
200hr Everyone Yoga School
Gentle Somatic Yoga –
Trauma Informed Yoga Therapy:
Massage Therapy School
Ones I can not seem to find since I moved:
Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage – Deep Feet Denver, CO
Orthopedic Massage Techniques for Cervical Pain Cross Country Education
Massage Envy – Educating Training Solutions:
•Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Massage Therapy
• Cancer and Massage
Integrated Massage Therapy College:
Hot Stone Massage
I may be obsessed with learning. Currently studying functional massage, NASM Corrective Exercise and in the fall Restorative Yoga.
I require notice when canceling or rescheduling appointments. To honor my time, your time, the business, and other clients needing to schedule.
•Sessions may be cancelled up to 48 hours prior to the appointment time. Less than 48 hour notice will require a 100% payment on the card we have on on file.
•If you no show or cancel the day of your appointment you will be charged 100% cost of that missed spot and you’ll need to prepay to book any further appointments.
*in some circumstances like sickness fees may be decreased or waived. Please reschedule if you are ill or have a fever. Fees will be waived due to illness if this doesn’t happen frequently.
Arrive on time so you can receive the full time of your massage. I do have clients, classes, or private sessions throughout my day.
If you arrive more then 15mins late for your appointment without calling you are a no show. If you are over 10mins late the doors maybe locked.
Plan to arrive 5-10 mins early to each appointment that way you can settle in, find parking, and use the facility if needed.
Private Yoga Sessions may be cancelled for a full refund 48 hours prior to the appointment time. 24-48 hours notice entitles you to a 50% refund.
There will be no refunds provided for less than 24 hours notice.
Thank you for your understanding.
I’ve been a Therapeutic Bodyworker (LMT) for over 8+ years. I love learning and taking continuing education credits. Here is a list of some of the modalities (different forms of massage) I specialize in, am certified in, or completed continuing education courses in.
Throwback to 2011/2012 Massage School….
Therapeutic massage is more pressure than a Swedish massage (relaxation) and incorporates many other modalities.
Therapeutic is more for pain relief & therapy than to relax (but many find it relaxing). Therapeutic or Medical is most beneficial for those who have injuries such as whiplash, frozen shoulder, TMJ, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome and more. I’ve learned from working at chiropractic offices how to effectively treat these issues and many others.
Many of my repeat clients receive deep tissue massages and a lot of athletes prefer deep tissue for recovery. Deep tissue works deeper into the muscle and connective tissue. Many clients have gone elsewhere to receive Deep Tissue but have said the therapist never went deep enough, they definitely do not have that issue with me. If anything clients usually ask that I “lighten up” or say “man you’re strong”.
•Trigger point & Instrument- assisted soft tissue therapy helps break up scar tissue, soft tissue fascia restrictions, ease radiating pain and increase range of motion.
•Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, Neuromuscular Massage Therapy, and Thai Massage-
Basically these fancy words in not so many words mean different forms of stretching. I add stretches or what I like to call lengthening (muscles do not stretch they release or lengthen) into my massages this helps rehabilitate and lengthen your muscles.
Thai massage is a full body stretch and usually you are fully clothed. As a certified yoga instructor I enjoy incorporating some of these stretches into my massages. Zen Body does offer full Thai massages with Amy Miller.
•Pre-natal read my other blog on Pre-natal massage it goes into detail about my pre-natal massages.
•Ashiatsu means “foot pressure” I am certified in Ashiatsu meaning I massage with my feet. With the feet the pressure is deeper but broader pressure, usually you aren’t as sore as you might be with deep tissue. Right now I do not have the bars I need for balance to offer full body Ashiatsu however I do have a stool and can work the shoulders with it. I usually don’t incorporate it into every massage but if you’re interested please let me know! It feels amazing.
•Craniosacral I add a little craniosacrall into most of my massages. When I do this I apply lighter pressure at the base of the skull/neck and hold for a few breaths. A lot of times I can feel the whole spine lengthen while doing this. I also love adding this one to savasana or final relaxation in my yoga classes.
•Hot Stone Massage A great way to warm up your muscles, improve circulation, promote relaxation and ease tension.
I have experience with aromatherapy wraps and have taken many classes on essential oils. I add essential oils into most of my massages, they have many benefits from helping ease tension, acts as a decongestant, pain reliever, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and more depending on which essential oil is used.
Now let me tell you about some of the modalities I do not specialize in or offer.
•Energy work, Chakra Balancing, & Reflexology – but Amy Miller (owner at Zen Body Yoga & Wellness) excels at and offers them and Thai massage.
I do some reflexology (more pressure points) on the feet & hands to benefit the muscles and nerves. (I don’t use reflexology as a tool to treat internal issues, illnesses, or to move energy)
•Swedish Massage which is light pressure for benefit of relaxation. I do not offer very light pressure.
For more information or to schedule a massage with me, Toni Caroline Meeks you can contact me at 918-710-8896
What’s the big deal?
Behinds everyone has one! I have new massage clients who are modest and don’t want anyone working on their backside. I understand but let me explain why you may change your mind.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle we have. It does a lot of work. There are lots of muscles/layers included in the posterior chain.
Releasing the glutes can affect the whole body especially the back, legs, glutes, even the hip flexors and neck!
Some say the glutes are the most important area worked during a massage. These muscles are the connection between your upper and lower body.
As a massage therapist I have seen many derrières and they all look the same on the table. I was trying to do the math on how many bodies (people) I’ve worked on and it would be easily over 1,000. That’s over 1,000 butts I’ve touched 😂(finding nemo reference) so you don’t have anything I haven’t seen or worked on before.
Now let’s get back to how the glutes affect the rest of the body. Look at all these muscles, the layers of muscles and the ones that connect / run through the sacrum area. I will not go into a long anatomy lessons but just take a look at the anatomy of the derrière.
So when I try to talk you into having your glutes worked on I’m really trying to help your whole body.
If you come to be with back, hip
or knee pain for a massage or yoga you will now have an understanding of why we focus on the glutes. Trust me you will feel so much better after getting the pain in the backside worked out.
Side note: I do understand that it takes a lot of courage to get a massage and everyone has their own comfort levels. If you say you don’t want areas worked I will not work them but I will write this blog to try and educate on the benefits.
#sorrynotsorry #Ihadto 😂
-Toni Caroline Meeks
Random questions and answers to get to know me better.
Do you have kids? Nope we don’t want any just our dogs, our nieces and nephews. ❤
Do you use sarcasm a lot? Yes a lot!
What’s the first thing you notice about people? Smile or eyes
Favorite vacation spot?
Seattle WA #secondhome
Favorite smells? Orange, Mint, and Coffee
What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home? Probably Hawaii I believe would be the furthest
Favorite person you’ve seen in concert? That’s a hard one between Paul McCartney and Michael Buble (he touched my hand)
Where were you born? California
What are your hobbies? Yoga, travel, spending time with husband and dogs, drinking coffee, and cycling.
Do you have any pets? 2 dogs (our fur kids)
At our wedding…
Why did you become a Massage Therapist? To help those with chronic pain because massage therapy has helped me with chronic pain.
Why did you become a yoga teacher? I have been practicing for many years, wanted to share the many benefits of yoga, and teach others how to help themselves.
Do you have any siblings? 2 older brothers and an amazing sister in law.
Any tattoos? 8 and counting.
What was your favorite/worst subject in High School? Favorite French, German and Theatre and worst was Math.
Who are some of your favorite YouTubers? Bad Yogi and JP Sears
Favorite memory from childhood? So many.. spending time with family and friends, vacations, swimming, dance and Disneyland.
Myself and my nephew Alex
How would you describe your fashion sense? Lacking or non existent.
Tell us one of your bad habits? Caffeine!
Name 3 things in nature you love? Mountains, Stars, animals, ocean.. four my bad.
Picture from our honeymoon…
Your favorite song? The Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera
3 random living famous people you admire? Michelle Obama, Emma Watson, and Neil Degrasse Tyson.
If you could live anywhere where would you live? Washington State or somewhere in Europe.
Do you have any nicknames? Yes Toni from my middle name Antoinette.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up? A dancer/ballerina, pilot, or lifeguard .
That’s all for today. Thanks for reading.
❤ Toni Caroline💗
I began yoga many years ago as a child at a dance studio I attended. My friend and I couldn’t stop laughing and we ended up being asked to leave the adult yoga class. Of course in my rebellion that made me want to do more yoga. So I started by practicing at home with yoga tapes (Kids this was before DVDs). At first I enjoyed yoga because although I danced I wasn’t naturally flexible and yoga improved that. Yoga also introduced me to meditation which helped me to stay focus and learn how to calm my mind (I have Bipolar).
After years of practicing off and on I came back to practicing yoga regularly in 2013 mostly to help me get a handle on my anxiety, stress and help with my back pain. As I continued to practice yoga I wanted to share my love of yoga with others.
I enjoy teaching kids and adults. I can see so many benefits of yoga when teaching children. I love it when kids say “this is yoga?” , I like to make my kids classes fun and playful but mindful. I enjoy teaching adults because I can help them with massage therapy but with yoga they can learn to help themselves. I feel that yoga and massage go so well together.
I especially like teaching non stereotypical “yogis”, as a plus size person myself I enjoy sharing yoga with every ONE and every BODY.
I am so grateful to do what I love.
What my clients and students have to say about Caroline’s massages and yoga classes.
“Caroline’s yoga and barre classes are accessible to all levels of yogis. She is welcoming, her classes are playful and she has an awesome sense of humor. Caroline’s classes are great at focusing on alignment and have a great variety of poses. She always plays great music too! :)” -Vivian
“Caroline is wonderful. She has done several in home private sessions with me abd I couldn’t be happier. She takes the time to do a thorough intake and really gain an understanding of what you want and need. She then creates a customized plan for you. I found her workouts to be just what I needed. She is available if I have questions and will help in any way she can.”- Hannah
“I have been seeing Caroline for almost 2 years now. She is courteous, knowledgeable, responsive to your needs, and excellent at what she does. I have chronic pain issues and she helps keep me pain-free. I wouldn’t go see anyone else!!” -Joanna
“Caroline is one of the best massage therapists I’ve ever had. She is strong yet gentle. She has an amazing diversity of knowledge and was able to help me with everything from migraine headaches to tmj. I highly, highly recommend her!!”-Dilene
“Everytime I get a massage with Caroline she does a great job! She is especially good at deep tissue massage!” -Lisa
“You need Caroline in your life! She is an amazing massage therapist. She might be tiny but she is mighty. One it the best deep tissue massages I’ve ever had. Check her out!!” -Kim
“Great girl that gives a Great massage!! Will continue to see her every chance I get.”- Nick
“Caroline is great, in my recovery after my accident it was recommend to do deep tissue massages to help heal and help keep everything in line, A++++ to her i feel great, better then in a long time, neck is staying in place. Great job Caroline and thanks.” -Paul
“Caroline took my low back problems away…with her feet and hands! It was not painful at all. She was attentive through the entire massage ensuring I was getting the right amount of pressure on every spot. Thoroughly enjoyed it and plan to go back!” -Angel
“Caroline has been the best for my recovery. My muscles were so tight that I was having knee and back pain to an extreme level. With Caroline’s help my pain is gone.”-Deanna
“I have had many massage from Caroline ranging from relaxation to Ashiatsu, I enjoy them all. She listens to the needs of her clients.” -Minnie
“Yoga with Caroline is the best! So relaxing yet refreshing afterwards!”-Amanda
“Caroline Meeks does a fantastic job with both Swedish and Deep Tissue massages. She always puts me at ease and creates a perfect environment. I appreciate it that she always does the full 90 minutes and knows just the right amount of pressure for a very therapeutic and yet relaxing experience. I highly recommend Caroline to anyone looking for an expert Massage Therapist!” -Michael
“Caroline has amazing pressure! Told her about some pain I was having and she worked on that area for me. I’m very pleased to say that I am now pain free.” -Esther
“Caroline is awesome! She does an amazing job! I highly recommend her to anyone.” -C’Ann
“She is so good at her craft. I’ve taken family members to her and we all love her massages. Caroline is the best.” -Lynn
“Caroline is absolutely amazing! Perfect deep tissue and ashiatsu massage!!!” -Jacie
Licensed Massage Therapist at Zen Body Yoga & Wellness Tulsa, OK
918-388-8799 Zen Body
918-710-8896 Caroline Meeks
Update: Caroline Meek’s legally changed her name from Carolyn to Caroline in January of 2019.