But I’m not flexible enough for yoga.

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

What to expect from my Therapeutic Bodywork

I’ve been a Therapeutic Bodyworker (LMT) for over 10 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.


•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”.


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. 

Pre-natal read my other blog on Pre-natal massage it goes into detail about my pre-natal massages.

Pre-natal Massage

•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.



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.

I offer Massage Therapy at Cultivate Strength at 15th & S. Harvard. 

60mins $80

90mins $110

I also offer Private Yoga & Personal Training at Exercise Solutions on Brookside. 

Contact me to schedule: 918-710-8896 embodiedworksllc@gmail.com 


All about that bass


Gluteus Maximus
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.

I know people may be shy or modest but you can always have that area worked on over the sheet and with underwear on or commando. Many therapist will say “undress to your comfort level” meaning bottom underwear on or off.

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.

Working the glutes helps tremendously with lower back pain, hip pain, sciatic, knee pain and more…


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

Tulsa, OK


411 on getting on the table…

Just some 411 for new clients or massage regulars to make your massage the best experience!
If you are a new client try to arrive 10mins before your appointment time to fill out paperwork, go over what you need worked on, use restroom, and be ready for your massage.
If you are a regular client show up about 5-10 mins early so we can start your massage at the scheduled time and get your full time.

If we start late I may have to cut your time to not go into the next clients time.

Please give at least 24hr (prefer 48hrs) minimum notice for cancelation or rescheduling. If we don’t get enough time it’s hard to fill that spot. Of course I understand emergency situations. If it becomes a regular issue you’ll be charged.

Please turn your cell phones off. Your phone going off doesn’t bother me however I notice that when your phone rings/text alert clients tend to not be relaxed any more or tense up.

This is your time to relax and enjoy your quiet time away from the real world. Of course if you need it on for let’s say an emergency that’s understandable.
Speak up- if the pressure is too much for you let your therapist know. Sometimes we can tell from body language or muscles not relaxing but not always so if you feel as if you are going to jump off the table from pressure please tell me! You know your body better then anyone. I want you to feel better not worse after your massage. It is normal to be sore the next day but if you feel too sore or in pain please let me know. Also if it’s not enough pressure let me know.

Drink lots of water it helps you not be as sore the next day, helps muscles heal, and keeps the skin healthy, skin is the largest organ. 🙂(no it’s not to “flush out toxins”)

Butts that’s right butts everyone has one. If you have sciatica or back pain working your glute muscles helps tremendously.

For massage therapist’s undergarments just get in the way. We keep areas covered when we aren’t working on them and private areas are kept covered. I can work better without underwear in the way however I understand modesty. If you feel more comfortable leaving your underwear on then do. Remember it’s your massage and all about your comfort.

Women- I get this one a lot “Sorry I forgot to shave”. Trust me that is nothing to worry about. Think about it we work on guys with hair. Wether you are growing out your leg hair to get waxed or forgot to shave it really doesn’t bother us. So don’t worry!

Tips: “Don’t Pee in the Snow” no not that kind of tip. Not all therapist feel this way… I appreciate tips very much but I don’t expect them. I understand that not everyone knows to tip their massage therapist or maybe they only have enough $ in the budget for a massage, massages can be expensive. I would rather someone not be in pain then to stress about waiting till they can tip me. On another note I have had clients say “oh must be nice to get paid a dollar a minute” 😂😂😂. Most massage therapist don’t make a $1 a minute there is overhead cost, insurance, continuing education cost and more.. or if they are an employee they get a % of what you pay usually anywhere from 30%-50%. Long story short I am very grateful for tips but if for whatever reason you can’t tip I won’t be angry or give you a bad massage next time. I have to pay bills just like everyone else but I love helping others especially those who need it the most. If you do like to or are able to tip they suggest 15%-20% like you would for hair stylist, server, etc.

Last one for today. Please don’t call massage therapist “Masseuse” in the USA that is slang for the dirty unprofessional type people. We are Massage Therapist.

Thank you for taking the time to read my massage etiquette 101.
Other therapist or clients who have thoughts please feel free to comment.

Just my opinion not speaking for all therapist’s.

I hope to make your massage an escape from the real world and for you to leave feeling much better then when you came in.

Toni Caroline Meeks

http://www.vagaro.com/embodiedworks Tulsa, Oklahoma

Pre-natal Bodywork

I get asked often if I offer pre-natal massage the answer is yes I do. Mostly Therapeutic/deep tissue pre-natal massages. Most of my clientele are deep tissue clients second most is pre-natal massages. Swedish or light massages are not my forte.

I know moms need pain relief especially while expecting. I hear a lot from pre-natal clients that massage therapists are afraid to work on them.

I am not afraid, I’m here to help. I studied pre-natal while in massage school and enjoy taking continuing education pre-natal massage classes.

I do understand why some therapist have concern with doing pre-natal, there are certain points to be cautious of, on these areas I do massage lightly or avoid them. For example blood clots in the legs can be common in pregnancy and we don’t want them moving up to the heart so if I do I work on the legs durning your massage I do so lightly. That being said I won’t work on you if you are high risk and don’t have approval from your doctor. If you have concerns always ask your doctor.

In my experience pre-natal clients love having their shoulders, neck, feet and especially the glutes and low back worked on. I enjoy that I can help ease some of their pain and discomfort.

If you come to me for a pre-natal massage and want pressure I’m your person. I won’t just “rub lotion” on you. (I suggest Deep Tissue while pregnant for those who have had it in the past but we can still do Therapeutic/Medium Pressure if it’s your first massage)


How I set up for pre-natal:

If you aren’t very far along and can lay on your tummy comfortably I will place a pillow right below the belly as you lay face down just to help take any pressure on the tummy. I do not have a pre-natal table (they have holes with a place for belly and breast to hang) I have heard that these tables can cause ligament damage. Since gravity will be pulling the tummy and breast down and there isn’t any support.

I prefer to use lots of pillows. If you have pillows that you prefer for example a pregnancy pillow bring it with you otherwise I have lots of pillows to support you and mini you or 2 minis…


I do my best to be sure you are as comfortable as possibly. As always speak up if the pressure isn’t right or you aren’t comfortable let me know. Remember it’s your massage, I will never be upset if you ask me to make adjustments this time is about you!

Link with more info on pre-natal tables and massage http://www.turningtidesmidwifery.com/blog/pregnancy-massage-tables-versus-positioning

And Deep Tissue Massage and Pregnancy


Caroline Meeks Licensed Massage Therapist inside Tulsa Yoga Quest.

Call/text me at 918-710-8896 to schedule.

Thank you friends for allowing me to use your maternity pictures and information.


  • Beth Richmond Yoga Instructor specializing in Pre-natal yoga you can contact her at 918-521-4920
  • Chelsea Skogen Pre and Post Natal Yoga, Pilates, and Exercise Recovery. You can contact Chelsea at Chelsea.elizabeth2206@gmail.com
  • Lisa Eshenour check her out on Usborne great books for kids https://g5565.myubam.com/699022
  • Bailey Stephens-Johns Yoga Instructor and Professional Doula. E-mail baileystephensyoga@gmail.com

My love for Yoga

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.

Thank you!


Toni CarolineIMG_0350