Lower Back & Hips Stretches (Eka Pada Apanasana & Apanasana)

Need a simple lower back release?

Eka Pada Apanasana (one-legged, knee-to-chest pose) and Apanasana (both legs, wind-relieving pose – see the next post in my feed) help relax the lower back. These poses lengthen the erector spinae, gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles. They also relieve stiffness and/or pain due to vertebral compression, misalignment or spasm of the low back.

One-legged, Knee-to-chest Pose

(Eka Pada Apanasana)

Lie on your back with your palms down and legs extended. 

On an exhale, bend one of your legs and draw it toward your chest, holding your shin just below your knee. If you have knee problems, hold the back of your thigh instead of shin.

With your other leg extended, flex your ankle so that your toes point up towards the ceiling.

Stay in the posture for six to eight breaths.

Repeat the steps with your other leg.

Go Deeper

If you’d like to explore going deeper, roll your shoulders off the ground so that your head approximates the bent knee.

Stay for a few breaths and then release.

Repeat the steps with your other leg.

Important Considerations for Eka Pada Apanasana

This pose should be done in a relaxed, easy way, as though the movement of your breath is directing the movement of your legs toward and away from you.

Remember, this pose isn’t an arm exercise, so just gently hold your leg and breathe into your lower back, and relax.

If keeping your extended leg flexed is too difficult, bend that leg and keep that foot flat on the floor. 

Have patience. Don’t force anything. It’s about the journey not the destination. 

Wind-relieving Pose

Once you feel some relief in your back from the Eka Pada Apanasana (one-legged pose), explore Apanasana (wind-relieving pose). For those who can comfortably do apanasana, it’s a gentle way to bring movement to the lower back, reducing chronic tension. 

Draw your knees up towards your chest and clasp your shins with your hands.

If this bothers your knees, place your hands under your thighs and draw your knees towards your chest.

The sacrum should just begin to curl away from the floor toward the end of the exhale. 

If the lower back is pulling up away from the floor, you are pulling your legs too far in.

Stay for a few breaths and then release.

Go Deeper

If you’d like to explore going deeper, roll your shoulders off the ground so that your head approximates your knees. 

Stay for a few breaths and then release.

Important Considerations for Apanasana

Only bring the knees in as far as comfortable with the sacrum just beginning to curl away from the floor. 

There should be no strain in this posture. If this pose is too uncomfortable just bring your legs close enough to put your hands on your knees or stick with the one-legged version of the pose.

During pregnancy, or for students with a larger midsection or who experience discomfort in the inguinal region (the space between the top of the thigh and pelvis), bring the legs wider, keeping knees and feet about the same distance apart.


Let me see your Apanasana by tagging me on Instagram @yogafordentist or posting in our private Facebook Group – Yoga for Dentists!

Click here to receive a FREE End of Workday Meditation!

Consider subscribing to this website (it’s free) and share it with your dental friends. Helping other dentists live better lives is a great way to give back to the dental community!

COVID & Quiet Poses

My experience with COVID-19 has been mild compared to my husband’s (who has been in the hospital for 7 days already – pray for him). 

My experience includes intense fatigue. I can barely manage to walk around my house, let alone do yoga. But I miss how good yoga feels. So I’m choosing to do what I call “quiet” poses right now. Poses that allow me to blend restorative poses with yin principles – holding a pose longer for a deeper, connective tissue stretch.

Pictured above is one of those “quiet” poses. It offers a nice upper back (trapezius and rhomboids) stretch along with a posterior shoulder stretch.

Simply cross your arms in front of you as you lay prone and support your head with a yoga block. The head support allowed me to stay longer and breathe purposefully into my back – which was helpful for keeping my lungs “exercised” during the lung inflammation caused by coronavirus. 

If you don’t have a yoga block, you can use a firm pillow or amazon box. If you’re like me, you have a ton of those laying around. 

Here’s to me and my husband beating Covid!


Let me see your “Quiet” Pose by tagging me on Instagram @yogafordentist or posting in our private Facebook Group – Yoga for Dentists!

Click here to receive a FREE End of Workday Meditation!

Consider subscribing to this website (it’s free) and share it with your dental friends. Helping other dentists live better lives is a great way to give back to the dental community!

Episode 15: Guided Meditation – Envisioning a Positive Future

It’s a new year! Take some time to envision how you want this year to go. Sit back, relax and follow this guided meditation to visualize a positive future!

Subscribe to the Yoga for Dentists YouTube Channel if you prefer a visual experience.

Listen on your favorite podcast listening app or listen here!

Hang out with like-minded dental professionals on Facebook or Instagram @yogafordentists

Click here to receive a FREE End of Workday Meditation!

Consider subscribing to this website (it’s free) and share it with your dental friends. Helping other dentists live better lives is a great way to give back to the dental community!

Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Pigeon Pose, or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, is my favorite way to open tight hips. Stress can create tension in the whole body, and many people carry tension in their hips, especially me. 

This pose primarily targets the external rotators (in the bent leg) and flexors (of the straight leg) of the hips which tend to be tight when you sit all day, especially with one foot on the rheostat. Sitting keeps hips from the various movements they need to remain agile – flexion, extension, and rotation. 

Activities like running, cycling and even everyday walking require hip strength, but not flexibility. So incorporating regular hip opening yoga poses are a must if you don’t want to look like a granny when getting up from your chair. 

However, if you’re too tight, your knees, ankles, and lower back may not want to cooperate for a traditional Pigeon pose. So in addition to showing you how to do a traditional pigeon pose, I will offer a way to support the pose with yoga props.  

With regular practice using props for the pose, your hips will eventually feel less tense, leading to a more relaxed traditional Pigeon Pose. If you’ve tried with the props and the pose is still too difficult, let me know and I’ll offer you another pose!

Have patience. Don’t force anything. It’s about the journey not the destination. 

Traditional Pigeon Pose

  1. From Downward Facing Dog, bend your knee and bring that leg forward as if you were going to step into a lunge. Instead of placing your foot down as you would for a lunge, bring your knee to the floor behind your hand. The shin may angle back towards the opposite hip or be more parallel to the front of your mat, depending on your range of motion.
  2. Release the knee of your back leg to your mat. Uncurl your toes and keep your back leg flat on the floor. Take a look to make sure that your foot is pointing straight back.
  3. Square your hips towards the front of your mat. Your hips should be even, not one in front of the other.
  4. Lengthen through the crown of your head, and breathe as you settle into this pose.
  5. Stay for a few breaths then do the other side.
  6. To release the pose, curl the toes of your back leg under, lift the knee of the back leg off the ground, press into your hands as you step your front leg back into Downward Facing Dog.

Go Deeper

  1. If you feel stable, bring your torso down into a forward bend over your bent leg.
  2. Keep hips square and weight balanced equally on both sides as best you can. If this feels too intense, place a blanket or block or under the hip or back knee. Reach your forehead toward the floor.
  3. Continue squaring your hips and breathing into any tightness.
  4. To come back up, bring your hands in line with your hips and torso upright.
  5. To release the pose, curl the toes of your back leg under, lift the knee of the back leg off the ground, press into your hands as you step your front leg back into Downward Facing Dog.
  6. Repeat the pose on the other side.

Pigeon Pose Variations

Pigeon on a Perch

Place a yoga block beneath the hip of the bent leg to help square off the hips which will keep the lumbar spine better aligned and will not place any undue strain on the joints.

Place padding (a meditation pillow or folded yoga blanket work well) under the hip of your bent leg and settle into it  to make the pose more comfortable.


Let me see your Pigeon Pose or Variation by tagging me on Instagram @yogafordentist or posting in our private Facebook Group – Yoga for Dentists!

Click here to receive a FREE End of Workday Meditation!

Consider subscribing to this website (it’s free) and share it with your dental friends. Helping other dentists live better lives is a great way to give back to the dental community!

Reverse Prayer Pose Variations

I recently posted about Reverse Prayer Pose and then received a request by someone in the Yoga for Dentists Private Facebook Group for modifications when shoulders are too tight to achieve the full expression of the pose. So here they are!

Test out each “level” each day and see where you’re at. Some days you will get “deeper” into the pose and some days your shoulders will be tighter and you’ll have to step back a level. This is all normal progression.

You should feel comfortable in the pose and like you’re getting a nice little stretch. It should not hurt. If it hurts you’re asking your body to do something it’s not ready to do. So back off a level.

Have patience. Don’t force anything. It’s about the journey not the destination. 

Reverse Prayer Pose Variations

Simply place your hands behind your hips with palms facing away from your body.

Breathe into this pose.

If you’d like to explore going deeper see the next photo.

Turn your hand so that palms are touching each other. This will give your shoulders a deeper stretch.

Stay here and breathe.

If you want to explore going a little deeper, see next photo.

See if you can grasp your wrists.

Breathe into this pose.

If you’d like to try go a little deeper see the next photo.

See if your fingertips can approximate the opposite elbow.

Breathe.

If you’d like to go a little deeper, see the next photo.

Flex your wrists and see if you can get your palms to face each other. Finger tips touching counts.

Don’t overdo it.

Build up to this pose.


This pose stretches your shoulders, chest and wrists. Reverse prayer pose will also improve your posture!

Let me see your Reverse Prayer Pose or Variation by tagging me on Instagram @yogafordentist or posting in our private Facebook Group – Yoga for Dentists!

Reverse Prayer Pose

We’re so close to earth that sometimes we forget how beautiful it is.

Thich Nhat Hahn, The Art of Living
Dr. Josie Dovidio in Reverse Prayer Pose | Westward Beach, Point Dume Reserve, Malibu, California December 2020

My prayer for you is that in 2021, you’ll make time to enjoy nature on a regular basis. We were designed to spend time in the infinitely healing natural environment around us. Can you explore the beauty of creation with a sense of curiosity?

Reverse Prayer Pose

Relax your shoulders, bringing your hands behind your back & grabbing the opposite elbow in opposite hands. 

Take 5 deep breaths.

If you feel this is enough for your body stay here! 

If you want to go to full reverse prayer…

Flex your wrists so that your finger tips point up towards your head.
Slowly join your palms together in prayer pose.
Breathe here and when you’re ready, slowly come out the way you came in!

This pose stretches your shoulders, chest and wrists. 
Reverse prayer pose will also improve your posture!

Be well friend.


Join us in the Facebook group or on Instagram.
Click here to receive a FREE End of Workday Meditation!

Consider subscribing to this website (it’s free) and share it with your dental friends. Helping other dentists live better lives is a great way to give back to the dental community!

Episode 13: Guided Meditation – Letting Go of 2020

Are you ready to purge 2020? Listen to this guided meditation to reflect on this challenging year so you can let it go and usher in your aspirations for 2021!

Subscribe to the Yoga for Dentists YouTube Channel if you prefer a visual experience.

Listen on your favorite podcast listening app or listen here!

Hang out with like-minded dental professionals on Facebook or Instagram @yogafordentists

Click here to receive a FREE End of Workday Meditation!

Consider subscribing to this website (it’s free) and share it with your dental friends. Helping other dentists live better lives is a great way to give back to the dental community!

Do You Know What Actually Relaxes You?

It might sound obvious, but many people aren’t very discerning or creative about how they spend their downtime, especially dentists.

People often think they’re resting when they’re really not. For example, maybe you count scrolling through Twitter for a couple of hours as relaxation. That might be restful to some people, but for many, it’s more stressful than anything.⁠

Or maybe you force yourself to do things that you’ve heard are supposed to be relaxing like napping, or taking a bubble bath—but you actually find them unhelpful or borin

Relaxation isn’t one-size-fits-all.⁠
To figure out what rest means to you, you might want to reframe how you think about it.⁠

Relaxation is not an activity—it’s the outcome of an activity.⁠

And which activities lead to relaxation will depend on you. ⁠

Explore hobbies, different types of physical activity, various means of socializing, self-care practices, and more. Remember, there is more to life than dentistry!⁠

Then pay attention. Ask yourself, “How do I feel after doing this? Do I feel grounded? Do I feel stable? Do I feel at ease?” If so, maybe that’s something that can be on your list as a way to rest from the world. And if not, maybe you need to try something else.⁠

If you find that your go-to relaxation activities aren’t actually relaxing and you’re not sure what else to try, you might have to go back to the drawing board and start experimenting. That’s okay. Start small. Like, so small that you think it’s absurd.⁠

Literally sit for 30 seconds.⁠
Do one deep-breathing exercise a day.⁠
Go from there.⁠

Come back and let me know what you discover.

Be well friend.

Listen to this message here:

Join us in the Facebook group or on Instagram.
Click here to receive a FREE End of Workday Meditation!

Consider subscribing to this website (it’s free) and share it with your dental friends. Helping other dentists live better lives is a great way to give back to the dental community!

Restorative Lower Back Release

Yesterday, I slept terribly and then ended up waking up with a stiff lower back. I knew that yoga would help my back but decided to take a more restorative approach to my practice as my body and mind were telling me to “be gentle”.

So today, my offering is the three poses I did to honor what my body and mind were needing.


I set my bolster lengthwise in the center of the mat. My yoga blanket is folded and draped near the top to offer some additional support to my head and neck.

My initial pose was to place my hip points at the end of the bolster and then lay on top of the bolster. This allows the legs to drop down, providing a gently stretch of the lower back thanks to gravity, and the legs to splay open. And I simply laid there for several slow breaths, feeling my back get a nice gentle stretch.

Then I lifted my torso away from the bolster and held that pose for several breathes. Breathing into my lower back, feeling the counter pose to the stretch. Remember, my back was stiff, so I was just trying to loosening things up in the most gentle way.

Since I provided flexion and extension of the lower back, it was time for a gentle twist.

Sitting up, I bent my legs and placed the side of my hip on the edge of the bolster. Then I slowly lowered myself down onto the bolster with an arm on either side and my face turned towards my legs. And I stayed here for about 5-7 minutes, breathing into my lower back.

Pushing myself up, I unwound my body and then did the same set up for the other side.

Give yourself permission to honor your body where it is at on any given day.

Let me see your restorative poses by tagging me on Instagram @yogafordentist or posting in our private Facebook Group – Yoga for Dentists!

Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)

A lot of you are Peloton people (or some other spin cycle) so today I wanted to offer you a “yogic’ twist on the typical quad stretch that is suggested after a ride.

Natarajasana, or Dancer Pose, is a balancing pose that teaches concentration. This version of the pose opens your front body, shoulders, and hip of the bent leg. It also strengthens leg and ankle muscles of the standing leg while improving your sense of balance and flexibility.

Do this directly after cycling, a run, or your evening walk. You don’t even need a mat for this pose.In the first picture, you see the typical quad stretch after a cycling class. The arm holding the foot is internally rotated which is what our arms typically do in dentistry all day. So I recommend externally rotating your arm for this pose to give your shoulder a nice stretch too.

Dancer Pose (Natarajasana)

Try it:

  • With one hand on your bike for initial stabilization, bend your knee and reach back to grab the inside of your foot.
  • Align your bent knee with your standing leg as best as you can.
  • Lift the hand that’s touching the bike up towards the sky while focusing on a steady object in front of you to cultivate your sense of balance.
  • Engage the quad of the standing leg and stabilize your lower core.

If this is challenging enough, take a few breaths here, then lower your top arm, gently release your leg, and do the other side.

If you want to go further:

  • Press your foot into your hand, engaging your leg muscles and using this power to lift the knee up behind you while stretching through the hip flexors.
  • Continue to press the foot into the hand as you lengthen your spine, slowly tipping forward, reach your lifted foot up behind you as your overhead arm reaches forward.
  • Take a few breaths here, then return to the upright position, lower your top arm and release your leg.
  • Repeat on the other side.

This posture cultivates feelings of strength and power as you stand strong and balanced. Embrace any wobbling in the standing foot and ankle. Your muscles are learning to balance and support you which will, over time, lead to a stronger leg and foot.

Let me see your post peloton Dancer Pose by tagging me on Instagram @yogafordentist or posting in our private Facebook Group – Yoga for Dentists!