Hand Yoga

Our hands, we can’t work without them, and yet, we often don’t pay much attention to them until they hurt! It’s important to remember that our hands go through a lot of repetitive motions in dentistry and in yoga. 

The wrists bear much of our weight in yoga poses like plank or crow pose. If our wrists are weak or tight, any form of weight-bearing exercise or even hand use in life’s daily tasks can lead to wrist pain.

Therefore, taking proper care of your wrists to avoid an injury is extra important – not just for your yoga practice, but for all aspects of your life.

So today, I offer this simple wrist, palm and finger stretch that you can do in between patients with or without your PPE (take your gloves off though, duh).

  • From a standing position, extend your arm straight out in front of you and place the palm of your hand flat on the wall making sure to press your metacarpal pads into the wall. 
  • With your free hand, very gently pull your fingers back until you feel a stretch. 
  • Breathe into the pose by inhaling and imagining the breath traveling through your nose, down your arm into your wrist, palm and fingers
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds. 
  • Repeat with the other hand.

This may feel more like a finger stretch but remember, your wrist is flexed here which is the counterpose to how your wrists are typically positioned while practicing dentistry. So you end up receiving a nice stretch to the hand.


Let me see your Hand Yoga 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!

Want more? Check out yoga for dentists on these platforms for additional content:

Goddess Pose

Goddess pose (also known as fiery angle pose) heats the body and increases circulation, while also toning the calves, quadriceps, inner thighs and core, as well as the shoulders, arms and upper back. This pose also stretches the hips, groins and chest after a long day of practicing dentistry. Goddess pose also happens to be a nice pose to do during pregnancy as it can help to prepare the body for childbirth by creating spaciousness in the pelvis.

You can certainly do this while at work (might be tricky if wearing heels or slippery dress shoes) otherwise, it’s a great post work pose!

Steps to Goddess Pose
  • Facing the long edge of your yoga mat, step your feet approximately 3 feet apart (those with longer legs should take a slightly wider stance). Keep your feet parallel. I usually tell students to extend their arms out to the side and flex the hands so that fingers are pointing down. Then roughly align your ankles with your wrists and see how that stance feels. Adjust your stance as needed after you attempt the pose.
  • With hands on your hips, turn your toes out and your heels in, so your feet are pointed out at about a 45-degree angle.
  • On an exhale, bend your knees in the same direction as your toes, and lower your hips down toward the height of your knees. The knees have a tendency to bow inwards as they bend, so ensure that your knees are pointing in the same direction as your toes to help protect your joints. If necessary, adjust the placement of your feet.
  • Extend your arms out at shoulder height and bend your elbows to 90 degrees with your palms facing away from you. Spread your fingers wide and draw your shoulder blades into your back. 
  • Engage your core muscles and draw your tailbone toward the floor. Keep your spine long and your shoulders stacked over your hips.
  • Press down evenly through the soles of both feet and remain in the pose for up to 5 deep breaths.
  • To come out of the pose, extend your legs, lower your arms and step your feet together.
  • If having the arms up is too much today, place your hands together at the heart center to ease up on your shoulders or upper back.
Add a Twist

Place palms on thighs and twist at your waist so you can bring your shoulder forward for a nice torso and shoulder stretch. Don’t forget to do the other side.


Let me see your Goddess 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!

Want more? Check out yoga for dentists on these platforms for additional content:

Episode 16: On Having COVID, The Vaccine & What Matters Most

Yep, I had COVID. In this episode, I share my experience, my family’s experience, some thoughts on the vaccine and what really matters most, not just to me, but to you too (based on your responses to my prompt).

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

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!

Balancing Table Pose

Balancing Table Pose pairs movement with stretching to help warm and strengthen the abdomen and lower back while working on your sense of balance. It also brings flexibility to the spine, shoulders, and hips, while gently stretching the torso. The challenge to your balance also helps to improve focus, coordination, and overall physical equilibrium. And coordinating the movements with your breath helps relieve stress, fatigue, and tension. 

Important Considerations for Balancing Table Pose

Do not practice this pose if you have a recent or chronic injury to the knees, back, arms, wrists, or shoulders. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before attempting any yoga poses.

Start in Table Top Position
  • Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips (this is called Table Pose). Un-tuck your toes so the tops of your feet are pressing against the floor. The fold of your wrists should be parallel to the top edge of your mat.
  • Gaze at a point between both of your palms or just in front of your hands, which ever feels more comfortable on your neck. Do your best to elongate your neck.
Balancing Table Pose
  • Draw your belly button toward your spine and avoid arching your back. Then, extend your right leg behind you. Tuck your toes and keep them resting on the mat. Press back through the ball of your foot to lengthen your leg. Keep your spine neutral.
  • With your abdominal muscles engaged, extend your left arm forward to shoulder-height, and reach through your fingertips. At the same time, lift your leg off the floor, a few inches or all the way to hip-level. Do not lift your leg higher than shoulder-level.
  • Hold and breathe for a count of three.
  • Exhale and release back to Table Pose, on both hands and knees.
  • Repeat on the other side, extending your left leg and right arm. Hold for the same amount of time, then release back to Table Pose. This is one round.
  • Complete 5-10 rounds, then rest in Child’s Pose.
Modifications & Variations

Balancing Table Pose is a great core-strengthening yoga pose. There should be very little discomfort and no pain when practiced. To find a variation of the pose that may better work for you, try one of these modifications or variations:

  • If your knee caps hurt, fold your mat or place a yoga blanket under your knees.
  • For a greater balance challenge — reach your extended arm and leg out to the side instead of forward and back.
Tips

Practicing Balancing Table Pose can help to warm your body and prepare it for a deeper yoga practice. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this sequence:

  • Keep your spine in a neutral position throughout the repetitions: Do not let your belly drop, as this can over-arch your lower back and cause back strain or injury.
  • Keep your gaze at a spot between your palms: Looking forward can crunch your neck, causing tension, pain, and possible injury.
  • Your shoulder blades should be broad: Your shoulders should be drawn away from your ears. Keep your collar bones broad, as well. This helps to protect your neck, while also increasing flexibility and strength in your shoulders and chest.
  • Be aware of your breath and its coordination with your movements: Breathe smoothly and evenly throughout the practice.

Let me see your Balancing Table 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!

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.


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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!