Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I spent the morning at the dental hygienist getting my teeth excavated from underneath layers of plaque. Yuck, I know. Because I'm self-employed, I don't have dental insurance, something most Canadians get from their employer. We have universal medical coverage here for bodies, but not for teeth. It's a huge gap in the Canada Health Act.

I'm embarrassed that I let my teeth go for this long (it's been at least five years since I had them looked at). I felt guilty every time I biked past my old dentist's office.

The most embarrassing thing is I could have had my teeth taken care regularly, for a reasonable fee, with minimal inconvenience if I had just researched it sooner. My care is being provided practically for free by the Dental Hygienist School down the street. It takes me two minutes to get there on my bicycle.

This year, my care was free because the hygienist who treated me covered the administration fee herself. Apparently, they have trouble finding enough people for the students to practice on, so the students do their own recruiting. That's how J found me - through Craig's list!

So here's my public service announcement for the day:
If you're not insured and can't afford to shell out $200 several times a year for dental cleaning, make friends with your local hygienist school. By the time my cleaning schedule was finished (I had to attend three appointments), I had been examined multiple times by a kazillion qualified dentists, my teeth were clean as a whistle (and double-checked), I had x-rays, a full oral examination, fluoride treatment, plus they gave me a free tooth brush and floss.

I get to keep my x-rays to take the dentist if I need further care (and I do; a filling is loose, there may be a cavity). In four months, they'll do it for me again, and in another four, again. I get three cleanings a year.

So that was my morning. Clean tooths and there was a bit of Astanga in there too. I got up early and did half-Primary before I started my day.

A reader recently asked what I do for half-Primary. I practice right up to Marichyasana D, do one Navasana, then cut to the closing sequence (no backbends). It takes about 55 minutes with Savasana. When I practice half-Primary, I rein myself in and do a more subdued practice.

Now that I'm back on a heavy teaching schedule, I'll be varying my practice a lot more. There will be more half-primary, more hatha, more (and shorter) vinyasa practices. There will be days when I don't have the energy to do very much, but I'll always try to do something.


Jen Stevenson said...

What do you mean by a more subdued practice?

What are your thoughts on cutting out the vinyasas in between each side of your seated postures to cut down on time and reserve energy?

Kaivalya said...

For me, a 'more subdued' practice means not working 100% in every posture. That definition has changed over time, as it's based on where I define my 'edge'.

Vinyasa (between poses or sides) builds strength. My preference is to do as much vinyasa as possible in my Astanga practice.

If I need to shorten my practice for time or to conserve energy, I do a shorter practice overall (less poses) but keep the vinyasa in between them.

This is one reason I'm fond of the Swenson short forms. They retain the spirit of the Primary Series with fewer poses.

If I'm too ill or injured to do vinyasa between poses, I'll usually do a modified flow or some Hatha instead of Astanga.

Michelle said...

Alas, Kai, an area where we share a commonality. I hate the dentist. I went a few months ago for a check up after 5 years as well. No cleaning needed but I, too, have a cavity right near another filling. Hopefully I will get if filled before 5 more years.
PS Flouride is poison. Just kidding, but not really. :)

Kaivalya said...

Wow, no plaque at all after 5 years? That's pretty amazing. My teeth were covered in it.

I'm relieved to be getting regular care now. But the thought of saving up $200 just to be tortured by the the dentist (new filling) is a bit much.

I'm kinda in denial right now.

Arturo said...

hi Kai
what a good suggestion. i wonder if it works for the country i'm in. i found i need a dental treatment (like braces). the technology comes from the states, but it costs here 3,000 more than back there.

my dental coverage typically lagged behind medical coverage in California, so the problem you state for Canada may occur in the US. at least this was true for the programs that mid-size firms offer their employees.

i forget you were in Canada. i always thought you were in the DC area.


Michelle said...

No plaque is because every week I rinse my mouth with Hydrogen Peroxide and then brush with baking soda. Tastes disgusting but it works.

Jen Stevenson said...

I've asked you many questions and you're always willing to answer them. I appreciate and thank you for your guidance. I still have so much to learn.

Kaivalya said...

You may have thought I lived in D.C. because I lived there for a few years during grad school. I've been in Canada since 1999.

Okay, I'm totally trying that! I'll let you know how it goes. I go back for more cleaning in four months, so it will be a good experiment.

I'm glad to help. This is one of the nicest things about the 'cybershala': we're able to offer help and advice to one another as we develop home practice. I've benefited from advice offered by yoga bloggers and I'm glad to pass on the good karma!