Using Yoga Props & Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

If you’ve been here a while, you know that I love yoga props. Maybe you get the sense that props are helpful but you’re not sure how to use them or maybe you consider their use “cheating”. Well I’m here to tell you that yoga props do not make your practice less than, just like not using them doesn’t make your yoga practice better than. In fact, ideally there should be no such thing as comparison or competition in yoga. There is however, a focus on awareness. Learn to be aware of what you might benefit from and explore those observations. 

Yoga props are  tools that support you in your body, and in your yoga practice by offering a loving way to meet your body and your practice honestly and openly. Some days, dentistry beats you up and you won’t be able to access a yoga pose or range of motion that you normally can.  Or maybe you do have the range of motion but you’d like to take a more restorative approach to your yoga practice by giving your body and mind some additional support. Props are great for that!

Today, my offering is a pose that will give your upper back some love. Matsyasana or Fish pose is a reclining back-bend. There are many variations of this pose and in the traditional version of Matsyasana, you don’t use props and the neck is placed in extreme extension as you bend the neck back and place the top of the head on the floor. I do not practice this nor do I teach this expression of this pose. In my opinion, it is difficult for most people to do safely, especially dental professionals with their neck imbalances.

But variations of this pose are great for providing a much needed release for dentistry-weary necks and shoulders. Supported Fish Pose expands the chest providing the counter pose to how we normally go through our day – you know, hunched. It can also relieve neck and shoulder tension.

In general the pose is most comfortable when your chin is even with or slightly lower than your forehead. If your head is tilting back, this pose may feel like a good stretch initially but can get uncomfortable fairly quickly. You can remedy this by placing a folded blanket under your head and neck to elevate them. Explore the different variations of this pose to see which is most comfortable in your body. 

Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Try it with a Yoga Blanket:

If you don’t have yoga props yet, find a blanket or beach towel and work with this variation. Fold it in half, and then roll the folded side over one or two times – depending on what feels good under your body. You may have to fold your blanket a few different ways to figure out what works for you.

Lie on the blanket placing the blanket roll along the lower edges of your shoulder blades. Your head can rest on the unfolded part of the blanket or on the floor, which ever feels better for your neck. Let your feet fall open as you relax. Notice your chest opening as you focus on your breath while in this pose. This also might feel good for your shoulders. Enjoy for as long as you’d like. When you’re done, simply roll over to one side and push yourself up to a seated position.


Try it with Yoga Blocks:

Place one block on its highest height under your head, so that the head is supported without having to hyperextend your neck. Place a second block on the medium height in between or supporting your shoulder blades. Make sure the block under your shoulder blades isn’t touching your ribs below your shoulder blades. This block supports your upper back so that the chest gently expands. Relax your arms towards the floor and externally rotate your shoulders by having your palms face up. In this position, you can also let your feet fall open, as if you were taking Savasana (final resting pose).


Try it with Yoga Blocks and Bolster (and maybe a Blanket):

Place one block on its medium height and a second block on the lowest height. Stack the bolster over the blocks so that it is on an angle. Sit in front of your bolster so that the edge of the bolster is touching the top of your hips. Then lean back onto your props so that your back shoulders and head are supported by the bolster.

Now settle your torso down onto your bolster, letting your arms rest at about a 45-degree angle and turning your palms upward. In this position, you can also let your feet fall open, as if you were taking Savasana (final resting pose). Relax and breathe deeply for at least a minute. You can stay in this pose as long as it’s comfortable, even as long as 10-15 minutes. Most of us spend so much time in the opposite position—bent over a patient or keyboard—that there’s probably little chance of overdoing this version of Fish Pose.

In general the pose is most comfortable when your chin is even with or slightly lower than your forehead. If your head is tilting back, this pose may feel like a good stretch initially but can get uncomfortable fairly quickly. You can remedy this by placing a folded blanket under your head and neck to elevate them. Explore the different variations of this pose to see which is most comfortable in your body. 


Recommended Props:

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


“There is a buoyancy that lifts our heart and mood when we practice backbends like Fish Pose.”

Josie Dovidio, DDS
Listen to the episode here:
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 11: Exercise Consistency & Getting Hit by a Truck

Dr. Alan Mead, co-host of the Dental Hacks and Peaceful Practice podcasts, talks about his weight loss journey during the pandemic and managing lifestyle diseases. We discuss the physical and mental effects of exercise streaks and how to make time to exercise during the workweek. Dr. Mead also recounts getting hit by a truck while exercising, an event that broke his back in two places!

Connect with Dr. Alan Mead:
Facebook and Instagram
Podcast: The Dental Hacks Podcast or The Peaceful Practice

Watch the interview here:

Subscribe to the Yoga for Dentists YouTube Channel.

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!

Falling Asleep While Meditating?

When I first started meditating regularly, I had a meditation teacher guiding me. The first several times, her soothing voice would lull me to sleep. Of course, when this happens, you are technically sleeping, not meditating.

My teacher explained that falling asleep was not uncommon for people new at the practice of meditation. In this era of hustle and productivity, our minds are full of activity and our bodies run ragged all day long. The only time we stop is when it’s time to sleep. So naturally, when we first start meditating, our brain draws the conclusion that since we are still, it must be time to sleep. It was only with consistent practice that I managed to complete a meditation session fully awake and present.

Dr. Josie Dovidio meditating while sitting on a yoga bolster.

So today, I want to encourage you to stick with it.

Many of you in the Facebook group or on Instagram say, “I just can’t sit still to meditate. I can’t do it!” Or “I fall asleep when I meditate.” I hear you.

So I offer you this:

Try being still just one minute today. 
Set a timer on your phone. 
Close your eyes. 
Breathe. 
One minute. 
I promise you can do this. 

Even if your mind stays busy the whole time, do it. You are training your brain to know the difference between busy and stillness – and that stillness does not mean sleep.

Then do it daily. Think of it as exercise for your brain. Yoga for the mind, if you will.

Then let me know how it went for you in the comments!

Be well friend.

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!

Supported Savasana (Resting Pose)

It’s Giving Tuesday and the National Day of Courage.
Do you have the courage to give yourself some self-care today?

You owe yourself one hour a day of self maintenance. It can include reading, writing, yoga, exercise, dancing, meditation, painting, or whatever, but you owe it to yourself. One hour, 1/24 of your day. That’s less than 5%. It matters, it really does. Especially if you’re hoping for longevity in your career. Make it count.

Dr. Josie Dovidio in supported savasana. To see which yoga props she recommends, click here.

In the spirit of giving, my offering to you is this delicious yoga prop supported version of Savasana:

  • Lay down with a bolster under your knees, a rolled towel under your ankles, and a rolled blanket to support the curvature of your neck
  • Support for your neck is key here to really tap into the parasympathetic response (rest & digest)
  • Get the most out of the pose by adding the weight of a sandbag or pillow on top of your belly. This is my meditation pillow which has some weight to it.
  • Rest in Savasana anywhere from 5-25 minutes.
  • Feel your body fully supported and landing onto the earth.

Give your body permission to relax and be at ease. You deserve it!

Then let me know how you treated yourself in the comments!

Be well friend.

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 9: Guided Meditation – Sharing Gratitude

This heartwarming guided meditation is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. Focus on the people in your life who you are grateful for and feel the love and support they give you all year long. Of course, sharing gratitude is great any time of year, especially when you need a reminder of how much you are loved.

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!

Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)

The practice of yoga gives you messages that are very difficult to ignore. Through my physical yoga and mindfulness practices, I realized that I had a low grade gnawing pain in my right hip joint. In my mind’s eye, I saw that the inflammation occurring in between the acetabulum and head of my femur.

I attribute this to years of using my right foot on the rheostat. Whether I did a procedure sitting or standing, I preferred my right foot as I felt more secure with it controlling the rheostat. That is after all how I was trained.

Over time, this led to an imbalance in my hip as my right leg was more active than my left. After some focused time trying to rebalance the musculature, my hip settled down. Now it only occasionally flares up which serves as a reminder that I need to spend focused time giving my hips some love.

Upon reflection, I have learned that there is an edge that each of us must confront between growing, which is an adventure, and holding onto security. Some security is necessary. But too much dampens growth, creates an imbalance and dulls life by keeping newness out.

One of the remarkable things about yoga is that it invites you into self exploration, while building both  physical and psychological strength. This gives an entirely different kind of security – the security of knowing that you can respond to whatever challenges life may bring by simply responding with love and attention.

Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Simple but wildly effective, Low Lunge targets the iliacus and psoas muscles to create length and flexibility in these powerhouse hip flexors. In this pose, the hip muscles can stretch and release accumulated stress.

Try it:
  1. Find your version of Downward Facing Dog (this can vary from day to day).
  2. Step your left foot forward between your hands, stacking your left ankle under your left knee.
  3. Release your back knee to the floor
  4. Engage your core to lift your torso away from your front leg.
  5. Gently lengthen spine by drawing your tailbone toward the earth and the crown of your head toward the sky.
  6. Reach your arms overhead, palms facing each other, as you soften the weight of your hips toward the earth.
  7. Breathe and hold for several breaths.
  8. Place your hands back on the ground on either side of your front foot.
  9. Curl the toes of your back foot under and lift your back knee off the floor.
  10. Press into your hands as you draw your hips up and back, bringing your front foot backup meet your back foot.
  11. Return to downward facing dog and breathe.
  12. Repeat these steps in the other side.

**if your knees are sensitive, place a blanket or towel under your knee

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

Episode 8: Dental Porn, Mental Health, Authenticity & Yoga

Dr. Joshua Austin, a nationally recognized lecturer and published author, discusses authenticity in the era of social media, his personal mental health journey and how yoga has become a vital part of his wellness toolbox.

Connect with Dr. Joshua Austin:
Website: AustinDentalSeminars.com
Podcast: Working Interferences

Watch the interview here:

Subscribe to the Yoga for Dentists YouTube Channel.

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!

Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

It’s National Take a Hike Day!

And while I’m not quite sure what the spirit of this day was supposed to be (is it “Let’s take a hike!”😃 Or “Hey you, take a hike!” 😠) – I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you how to do one of my favorite yoga poses for balance – Vrksasana (Tree Pose), as shown here from my recent hike on the trail behind my house. 

It’s harder than it looks at first and your sense of balance will be different every day. Don’t get frustrated if you wobble or even fall over at first. Just keep at it.

  1. Take a moment to feel both your feet root into the earth with your weight distributed equally on all four corners of each foot.
  2. Begin to shift your weight into your right foot, lifting your left foot. Keep your right leg straight but don’t lock the knee.
  3. Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot onto your inner right thigh, either above or below the knee. (Not ON the knee, that’s a no-no, keep the joint safe.) 
  4. Press your foot into your thigh and your thigh back into your foot with equal pressure. This will help you keep both hips squared toward the front so your right hip doesn’t jut out. If it does jut out, mindfully “pin” your hip back in towards the middle.
  5. Focus your gaze on something that doesn’t move to help you keep your balance.
  6. Take 5 to 10 breaths, then lower your left foot to the floor and do the other side.

You can keep your hands in prayer pose or “extend your branches” by raising your hands up as pictured here.

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

Episode 7: Eye Yoga (aka Warming Eye Rubs or Palming)

This episode was originally recorded for in the Yoga for Dentists Private Facebook group – join us!

Are your eyes tired from focused concentration through your loupes or all the screens that are inherent with modern life, let alone a dental practice? Then this video is for you. Learn how to prevent and reduce eye fatigue with this quick, easy yoga technique that you can do while still wearing most of your PPE.

This episode is best viewed visually.
But you can also 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!

My Why

Why Yoga for Dentists?

My mission is to change the way dental professionals think about self-care. Not by fixing, avoiding, or medicating yourself. But by fostering awareness so you can meet yourself right where you are, with what you’re needing. As a long-time dentist and certified yoga teacher, I am uniquely positioned to offer mental, physical, emotional, even spiritual reflections so that you may be encouraged to approach your life with a different perspective.

I wish I had a community of like-minded dental professionals when I was a younger dentist – a group that could commiserate but also offer healthier ways to address the mental and physical challenges that come with the profession. I created Yoga for Dentists to meet that need.

Sharing the positive impact yoga can have on dental professionals has become my way to give back to the people I feel most comfortable with – the dental community. Let’s face it, we are a special breed of practitioners. Only other dental professionals “get” what it’s like to be us. 

My personal yoga journey has been like a long, scenic hike with seemingly unscalable boulders of autoimmune issues and the high-stress environment of running a dental practice. I endured because of my love for the practice of yoga, its effects on my body and spirit, and the application of ancient yogic philosophy to modern life in dentistry.

The human body is fascinating and the better we understand it, the better chance we have of giving it what it needs so we can live better lives – both in and out of the clinical setting! In an effort to give you effective tools, the Yoga for Dentists content focuses on yoga poses, meditation, mindset, and self-care tips. My desire is to hold space for different body types and physical abilities so everyone can explore personal restoration through body and mind techniques. 

My approach to yoga is not “fitness yoga” for Instagram athletes. It’s yoga for real people. It is slower, more mindful, and helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system. It’s not meant to be a workout in the traditional sense. But it is meant to leave you feeling nurtured, healthy, self-regulated, and peaceful. 

Through yoga, meditation, and self-care, you have the opportunity to create nervous system resiliency so you can access a greater sense of authenticity, meaning, and purpose in your life. I hope they will become an important part of your self-care toolbox and continue to bring personal healing and peace into your life. 

Be Well,

Dr. Laura Mach and I discuss Yoga for Dentists on her podcast Feeling Good: A Podcast for Dentists