I didn’t care how much the laughing gas would be, I simply requested it for three fillings that had to be replaced. I’m glad I have that kind of financial freedom.
Weekly, I write for a dentist in South Florida, and in that time I’ve learned that I’m not the only person to avoid making a dentist appointment. Most people would prefer to wait in long lines or accept a jury duty invitation than subject themselves to scrutiny over their flossing habits. But every time I would write for this dentist, my teeth would start to ache, so I made an appointment. My months (fine, years) of apprehension led to some tartar, and a few weeks later, I was crossing my eyes at the ceiling and praying that the anesthesia wouldn’t wear off.
To relax, I turned to yoga. I decided to focus on a breathing technique called Krama, or “Stair Step” breathing. This cooling breath allows you to count your breath and feel where your breath is moving through your body. Krama breath was one of five breathing techniques that we went over while I was in yoga teacher training, but the Krama breath always stood out to me because it just felt right.
Breathing through my nose when I had a wide-open mouth (and, due to unfortunate orthodontic flaws, live as a natural mouth-breather) wasn’t easy, but it took my focus away from whatever thin slice of metal was heading toward my teeth.
Pranayama, the practice of breath control, is the fourth limb of yoga. It prepares us for additional limbs: dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation.) Asana, the physical poses that we typically associate with the practice, is the third limb. There are eight limbs total, the eighth being samadhi, a state of ecstasy and union of the mind, body, and soul. I was nowhere near samadhi while I was trying to relax my tongue and take in as much laughing gas as possible, but, hey, we’re all on a journey.
The dentist’s chair is probably the least likely place one would think to practice yoga, but using Krama during the procedure reminded me that yoga isn’t just a physical practice. I’m as guilty as anyone of posting #yogachallenge photos and going to the studio in order to get a good sweat. While I pass no judgment on anyone who strictly does yoga for the physical benefits, yoga is more than just a workout. Yoga is a lifestyle, it’s way of being, its a guide that brings you closer to yourself, closer to the god(s) you worship, and closer to infinity.
Yoga is open to everyone, at any point in their life. You don’t need a mat to do yoga. You don’t need $100 yoga pants. You don’t need washboard abs or abstain from eating meat. You don’t need to know what Firefly Pose is or be able to pronounce anything in Sanskrit. You don’t need to feel comfortable with your body or touch your toes to do yoga. You don’t need to have a cute hairdo (once you see my yoga flow, you’ll understand what I mean.)
As a yoga teacher, my goal is to make my classes accessible and communicate them through love and compassion. If you have never taken a yoga class before, if you prefer ribs to kale, if you are physically disabled, if you just want to lay in Savasana or Child’s Pose for 40 minutes, you are welcome to my classes. And I will try my best to guide you through this beautiful practice and give you something you can take with you.
We may start practicing in a studio or through online videos, but the lessons that we collect through our flows follow us as we roll up our mat, walk out the door, and enter the spaces we may be trying to escape with yoga, meditation, or mindfulness.
Below is a flow I wrote to soothe anxious minds and bodies. In the flow, I guide you through Krama and Nodi Shodhan Pranayama. The flow is gentle, all of the poses are optional, and I recommend trying it before a good night’s sleep. This is the first flow I have posted online, and I would love any and all feedback that you have for me. Leave a comment, send me a message on Facebook, or shoot me an email. I teach for the benefit of students, so your opinion is very important to me! Enjoy this flow!