As dentists, we face unique mental, physical and emotional challenges each day. These challenges often create discord and imbalance in our bodies and minds, taking a toll on our health and wellbeing.
Twisting our bodies to gain better visibility, sitting for long periods, and hunching over our computer keyboards can put a huge strain on our musculoskeletal systems. Having poor ergonomics is also linked to less-expected chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Additionally, dealing with fearful patients, managing team members, and the frustrations of being in a leadership role can sometimes become overwhelming and lead to powerful feelings of anger, loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
Soon after beginning to practice dentistry, I began to experience the starting stages of burnout that most of us may go through at some point in our careers. I first tried yoga as a form of stress-reduction, but quickly learned that this ancient practice has much more to offer. I started practicing yoga 2-3 times per week and started to notice a difference in the way my body felt physically, but also in the way I dealt with day-to-day situations.
Yoga has improved my ability to deal with stressful situations with a greater sense of calm and has also increased my strength and flexibility that has helped with the aches and pains we get from a career in dentistry. Most importantly, yoga has taught me how to be present and aware in every moment and how to let go of the things that trouble my mind. I’ve seen a huge shift in my outlook on life and am the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been.
Four years after I found yoga, I enrolled in a 200-hour yoga teacher training program and I now teach yoga twice a week at Black Swan Yoga in Houston, Texas.
Teaching yoga felt like a homecoming; it was a goal I never knew I had.
Sharing the practice of yoga with others brings me so much joy knowing that I can help people feel a greater sense of calm and awareness. There’s nothing better than helping someone feel at home in their own body.
This year, I was selected to be in the running for the 2022 Yoga Warrior sponsored by the Yoga Journal.
This opportunity would allow me to share the magic of yoga with communities that need it most, including the dental profession. I’m grateful that the American Dental Association has allowed me to use my platform to bring yoga to the dental community. I’ll be teaching a virtual Yoga for Dentist class for ADA members on June 21 in honor of the International Day of Yoga and will also be teaching a yoga class at this year’s SmileCon on Oct. 13-15 in Houston.
To vote for me to be the next Yoga Warrior, please visit https://iamyogawarrior.com/2022/alex-barrera
Dr. Alex Barrera practices general dentistry Legacy Community Health in Houston, Texas. He graduated in 2017 from the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston and is a member of various organizations including the American Dental Association, Hispanic Dental Association, Greater Houston Dental Association, and the Houston Equality Dental Network. He currently serves as the chair of the New Dentist Committee for the Hispanic Dental Association and participated in the ADA’s Institute for Diversity in Leadership. Dr. Barrera is a participant in the National Health Service Corps and alumni of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Program. Dr. Barrera is a certified yoga teacher and uses mindfulness and meditation to help better treat patients with dental phobias. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking and traveling.