But I’m not flexible enough for yoga.

But I’m not flexible enough for yoga.

False!

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

What to expect from my Therapeutic Bodywork

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/Medical

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.

•Deep Tissue/Sports

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”.

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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.

Pre-natal Massage

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.

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Aromatherapy

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.

Last but not least pictures of my favorite client…

For more information or to schedule a massage with me, Toni Caroline Meeks you can contact me at 918-710-8896

Zen Body is now closed. I am now located inside Tulsa Yoga Quest.
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