A Yoga Pose for My Dental Hygienist

by Nina

I’ve been seeing the same two dental hygienists, Deb and Gail, for 32 years now. So, when I visit every six months, they check in with me a bit about my life, especially about what my kids are doing these days (they used to treat my kids, too, when they lived at home). But the conversations are never long, and I never really said anything about what my work was or how I spent my days. Yesterday, that changed.

While Gail was working on me, a woman—I guess it was Deb—came up behind me and whispered, “Congratulations on the book!” I couldn’t reply because, well, you know, my mouth was full of stuff. But Gail said, “What book? Did you write a book?” Then she paused what she was doing so I could reply, “Yes. It’s called Yoga for Healthy Aging.”

She then resumed what she was doing and started telling me that she really should start doing yoga. She had already had a good experience with it. Until lately, even though being a dental hygienist is really hard on the body, she had been holding up really well. But some months ago she started having some pain in her hip. When it didn’t go away, she finally decided to look up hip stretches on the internet and she had found a yoga pose that really helped her, within the first few days, even. Now the pain was good.

But she went on to say (you know how those conversations go—for most of the time they are one sided) that she was concerned about keeping her body healthy as she aged, especially because of the position she worked in, where she was bending forward all the time in a very asymmetrical position. When she had me rinse, I replied that, yes, yoga could help with that. Then, as she resumed work on me, I decided to come up with just one pose she could do during the day at work that would be a counter pose to her working position and that would help restore the symmetry of her body. I toyed for a while with the idea of a Standing Cobra pose, with hands on the edge of a sink, which would be a backbend to balance her body from all the forward bend, I decided in the end that Half Downward-Facing Dog pose would be a better idea. It would get her arms overhead, open her chest, stretch the backs of her legs, and stretch her back muscles evenly and symmetrically. Then in the remaining time I thought about where in the office she could do the pose. There was no space in the room where she worked. And the door to the waiting room couldn’t be blocked because people might need to come in. But—wait!—in the vestibule between the waiting room and the room where she worked there was a counter with plenty of room in front of it. 

So, after she was done with her work and I was ready to go (no cavities!), she told me she was going to buy the book. I said, if I had known she wanted one, I would have brought one. But, I said, I was going to teach her one pose she could do during the day on her breaks that she might find helpful. I quickly demonstrated the pose for her and then had her do it herself. After she tried it, she looked very pleased and said she could feel what a good stretch it was! And I was happy to be able to give her this little gift after all the work she has done caring for me and my family over the years.

I mentioned that the pose was in the book using the wall like this:
But when there is no wall space available, you can do this pose with hands on countertop, table, or even the back of a chair. Have you ever tried it this way?

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