Laura Williams talks to us about how yoga has helped her in the practice and how it could help dental patients too.
I started a regular yoga practice during my diploma in dental hygiene and therapy.
It helped me focus and stay calm before exams. It also helps reduce daily stress on my mind and body.
I started with short Youtube videos at home and fell in love with the feeling it gave me and how it changed my mindset and improved my physical strength and flexibility.
After qualifying I continued my yoga practice and found my patients and workplaces commented on my calm and gentle approach. I believe yoga has changed how I think and deal with stressful situations.
During the first lockdown I decided to take it one step further and complete my yoga teacher training. I wanted to share the tools I’d learnt with the world.
Now I offer a weekly yoga practice to my dental team. They love the space it gives them, mentally and physically. It allows them to reflect on the day or just relax.
The NHS now recognises and promotes yoga as a safe practice. It states: ‘There’s some evidence that regular yoga practice helps people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains, depression and stress.’
With this information and yoga being an easily accessible practice to everyone, it’s exciting to think it could benefit our dental teams and patients alike.
As dental professionals we value evidence to drive our best practice. We know that the evidence exists to support links between stress and increased inflammation in the body and the mouth.
Could we then start to think about how we could offer our patients more advice on how to reduce the ever-increasing stresses of everyday life. This could contribute to their oral diseases such as dental caries or periodontal disease.
Maybe we can start by having the knowledge to direct patients to yoga resources that already exist on the NHS website.
Other yoga benefits
The links between the benefits of yoga and dentistry don’t stop with stress.
Regular yoga practice can help to improve strength and flexibility in the muscles surrounding the spine, neck, shoulders and stomach. This has a positive effect on posture.
I know how much my posture impacts my clinical practice. As well as the pain I can experience if I compromise my position even just for one or two patients.
Regular yoga practice definitely helps me to be more aware of my body and mindful of my positioning. As well as being physically strong and healthy to support my body for the manual strain that our job entails.
As dental health professionals we are role models to our patients, our colleagues and the public. Therefore, now more than ever, it’s important we do everything we can to stay physically and mentally healthy to be able to provide the best possible care.
Yoga could have a positive impact on you and your patients. And if nothing else, it’s a great way to keep fit and relax after a long day in surgery.