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Yoga Pose to strengthen the spine

Cobra Pose

“I enjoy practicing the Cobra Pose first thing in the morning in conjunction with my breathing exercises to help open my chest and lungs. Sitting at a computer tends to contract the front of the torso; this pose reverses that effect.” – Andrew Weil, M.D.

Description & History

The Cobra Pose is a basic pose used to strengthen the spine and buttocks as well as stretch the chest, shoulders, and abdomen. The Sanskrit name of the Cobra Pose, Bhujangasana, comes from the words bhujanga, meaning serpent, and asana, meaning posture. Strength and flexibility are important components of a healthy back. By using the Cobra Pose in conjunction with other back-related yoga poses, a practitioner can develop the ability to maintain correct body posture and improve back strength.

How to Perform the Cobra Pose

Begin in prone position on the floor with legs together and feet pointed. Place hands under shoulders and squeeze your elbows against the body. Firmly press the tops of your feet, legs, and hips to the floor, maintaining this connection throughout the pose.
On an inhalation, first use your back muscles to lift your chest off of the floor keeping the neck relaxed and drawing shoulder blades and elbows back; then straightening the arms, continue to lift the chest as the face begins to look up. Go to a comfortable height that you are capable of maintaining without pain. Press your tailbone toward the floor and lift the abdomen muscles toward the spine.
Relax the shoulder blades by keeping them down, avoiding adding unneeded tension to the back and shoulders. Find a spot about 45 degrees in front and above that you can focus on as long as it is pain-free.
Hold the Cobra Pose for 15 to 30 seconds and maintain even breathing.
To release, exhale and drop your head to the floor and lower your body by using your arms. Repeat the Cobra Pose twice more.
Watch a video demonstration of the Cobra Pose.

Potential Health Benefits

Alleviates sciatica and low back pain
Opens the chest, allowing for deeper breathing
Strengthens abdominal muscles and buttocks
Stimulates digestion and helps relieve constipation
Traditional yoga texts say Cobra Pose increases body heat and destroys disease
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Education and Practice looked at the effects of the Cobra Pose along with other yoga poses that focus on the back muscles. After the three-month study concluded, researchers found that performing yoga poses that focus on the back, including the Cobra Pose, led to significant improvements in overall back strength.

Modifications & Variations

It is important to remember not to overdo the backbend during the Cobra Pose. Beginners should find a height that is comfortable and does not put excessive strain on the back. If you are stiff and do not feel comfortable with performing this pose on the floor, you can modify the pose. Start by placing a metal folding chair against a wall with the seat facing out. Place your hands on the edge of the seat and stand on the balls of your feet. Go through the same motions as you would with the Cobra Pose on the floor.

For an advanced version of the Cobra Pose, start the same as you would with the normal pose, but instead of using the arms to lift the upper body, contract the buttocks and lower back. This modified movement will limit the height at which your upper body will lift. As this is an advanced version of the Cobra Pose, it is important to know your limits and pay attention to any uncomfortable feelings associated with the pose.


Pregnant women should refrain from performing this pose, as should individuals with active ulcers, abdominal pain and hernias. For those with neck tension or injury, do not lift the head to a level that causes discomfort. And those with back pain or injury should bend the spine only to a degree that is comfortable, keeping the elbows bent if needed. Keep the spine rounded while performing the Cobra pose and avoid bending at the hips to achieve the pose.

Related Poses

Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Sphinx Pose
Reviewed by: James Nicolai, M.D., on May 20, 2013

Talk with Mercedez about bodywork or Patricia about yoga poses as well!

Sources: Bhowmik, Sanjib Kumar, Avjeet Mondal, Shrikrishna Patel, and Upendra Pandey. “Effect of Various Yogic Intervention Strategies on Back Strength of Homemakers.” Journal of Education and Practice 3, no. 14 (2012): 49-58.


Bodywork for Children

When we are children our bones are more maluable (before they are fully formed) and bodywork with Mercedez, can prevent many issues that adults develop. Bodywork is especially effective if your child is going through orthodontics. If so, after each orthodontic adjustment, bodywork is used to balance the pressures being placed on the cranium, body and mouth.

bodywork for children medicine wheel wellness

Don’t forget to pick up your loyalty card. We are now offering a loyalty card for our amazing bodywork sessions! When you purchase 7 sessions, your 8th is free! You can pick up your card at our office today!

bodywork for children medicine wheel dental and wellness center


Prescription drugs and holistic health

According to Dr. Michael Cutter and Easy Health Options:

“Nearly all of us have at one time needed or currently use prescription drugs. They have their purpose for sure, yet interfacing these synthetic drugs with a holistic health approach can be tricky.

That’s because while these unnatural chemicals cause desired effects, they invariably cause undesired adverse effects too, most of which go undetected and unreported. Moreover, the known chronic adverse health risks of drugs are typically not even shared with patients.”

holistic dental health

When drugs are necessary

It is extremely important to know the risks and adverse effects of any medication you take—especially those you take chronically. Drug adverse health risks vary widely from chemotherapy (poison in my view) to intermittent Tylenol (proven safe even in pregnancy).

Also, consider the disease you are treating. Think back to when you were first diagnosed. By the time you experience the signs or symptoms of any chronic type illness, the underlying disease process has been long underway. In other words, it takes months to years from the time an imbalance occurs in the cells of the affected organ until you feel or see any problem.

Examples are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Another example is ulcerative colitis, which caused me to get a total procto-colectomy at the age of 33. By the time I was told my colon needed to be completely removed through a drastic surgery, it was too late for natural and holistic approaches to be effective. Likewise, you can expect months to years before you will be able to “undo” any chronic illness through proper lifestyle, nutrition, etc.

Here is what Dr. Cutter says to those of you who have a chronic illness and take a prescription drug for it. “Rather than focus on the possible adverse risks associated with your prescription drug, realize that your drug has been well-studied and proven to be better than letting your disease go untreated. Your drug allows you to feel and function better; plus it probably stopped your disease progression and your risk of other worse diseases. If you don’t mind taking these the rest of your life, along with more drugs as new diseases manifest, then you probably don’t need to look into holistic health methods.

However, if you wish to look into holistic health for guidance and getting off prescribed pharmaceutical drugs. You want to ask yourself how you contributed to the development of the disease in the first place (aside from genetics of course) and if you desire to do what you can to “undo” what was done. If the answer is clearly “yes” then you may be a candidate to not only reverse symptoms and the disease progression, but also to prevent a whole slew of other illnesses that are likely to manifest in time.

Therefore, the first question is not so much about your drug’s harmful long-term effects, though this is certainly a concern. Rather, the big question is whether you would rather keep taking your drug for life or make the effort to eliminate the need for your drug. The latter is a primary focus of restorative/functional medicine and must be carefully integrated with science proven by conventional medicine working with holistic doctors and dentists.

For more information about medications, please click here to read Dr. Keane’s article.


Medications and Health: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Prescription medications are a lifesaving and essential component for healthcare in the United States.

Prescription medications medicine wheel dental center

New methods of treating severe diseases are coming online and hold great promise especially for diseases like HIV, Hepatitis, cancer, heart disease and autoimmune disorders like Multiple Sclerosis.

However, the majority of medications are used to treat chronic conditions that often result directly from our lifestyle. Essentially, they are a superficial improvement in symptoms that does not change the underlying cause of the disease or medical condition.

For instance, the IMS Institute of Health Care Informatics issued a report that the 10 most-prescribed drugs in the U.S. in 2010 were:

  • Hydrocodone (pain medicine) — 131.2 million prescriptions
  • Simvastatin (a statin, cholesterol-lowering drug) — 94.1 million prescriptions
  • Lisinopril (a blood pressure drug) — 87.4 million prescriptions
  • Levothyroxine sodium (a synthetic thyroid hormone) — 70.5 million prescriptions
  • Amlodipine besylate (a heart disease/blood pressure drug) — 57.2 million prescriptions
  • Omeprazole (an antacid drug) — 53.4 million prescriptions (does not include over-the-counter sales)
  • Azithromycin (an antibiotic) — 52.6 million prescriptions
  • Amoxicillin (an antibiotic) — 52.3 million prescriptions
  • Metformin (a diabetes drug) — 48.3 million prescriptions
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (blood pressure) — 47.8 million prescriptions.

Based on a superficial review, the majority of drugs used in the US are for the following medical conditions:

  • Pain
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • GERD (i.e. chronic heartburn and reflux)
  • Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
  • Hypothyroidism

With the exception of hypothyroidism and some forms of URI’s, all of these conditions are often treatable by lifestyle changes and non-pharmacologic techniques.

Interestingly, this report also identified changes in use of prescription drugs, especially by seniors who appear to be decreasing their medication use due to financial, health, or other reason. For instance,

Per capita retail prescription usage – which averaged 11.33 prescriptions per person, compared to 11.46 in 2010 – declined in 41 states and fell by more than 3% in 10 states.Patients 65 and over reduced their use of retail prescriptions by 3.1%, most notably in the antihypertensive class.
Patients aged 19-25 used 4,165 prescriptions per 1,000 population, up 2.0% over 2010, and were the only age group to increase usage in 2011. Seniors aged 65+ used on average 28,767 prescriptions per 1,000 population, down 3.1%.

From a financial perspective, many patients pay only a portion of the real costs of their medications. For instance, the IMS reports that the average copay for 75% of all prescriptions was $10 or less, but as much as $40 on average for branded drugs covered by commercial insurance plans. Also, while patients with insurance paid $49 billion out-of-pocket for retail medicines, down from $50.8 billion in 2010, the total spending on medications reached $320 billion in 2011, up 3.7%. Using oversimplified math, if patients payed $50 billion for $320 billion worth of medications, than about $270 billion was payed by insurers, about 84% of the total cost.

Beyond the ideal of controlling chronic disease by living healthier and thus having a better quality of life, patients should be aware that the cost of their medicines is likely to go up as insurance companies and government policy-makers determine that one way to reduce cost of Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare will be to cover a smaller percentage of prescription costs.

At Medicine Wheel Dental and Wellness Center we recognize the essential role medications play in healthcare and the incredible advances medications bring to treating such diseases as HIV and Hepatitis. At the same time, we support the notion of reducing medications by changing diet, exercise levels, improving healthy relationships and practicing healthy ways of managing stress.

For more information, a copy of the IMS Institute of Health Care Informatics publications The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2011 can be found online at the IMS website by clicking here.


Health Care Needs

Why Choose Medicine Wheel Dental and Wellness Center for Your Health Care Needs? High Quality Care for a Sustainable Price

Questions often asked about healthcare and wellness services offered at Medicine Wheel Dental and Wellness Center are:

  • Why should I get my medical/healthcare at the Center?
  • What about the Center is different from my ‘regular’ doctor?
  • Why should I pay cash when my ‘regular’ doctor charges a smaller co-pay?
  • How come the Center doesn’t process my Medicare, Medicaid or other health insurance paperwork for me?

These excellent questions are a great starting point to share the healthcare philosophy and vision of the Center

The philosophy of the Center as outlined by the founder, Dr. Swidler, can be summed up in three topics:

  • Innovation
  • High Level Wellness
  • Sustainability

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines innovation as: “A new method, idea or product.”  At the Center we provide a new and unique spectrum of integrated and complimentary health care services (Holistic Dentistry, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, Internal Medicine, Integrated Holistic Medicine, Acupuncture, Yoga, Massage, Physical Therapy, Re-Orient Express Percussion Table, etc.).  “One-size-fits-all” health care misses many of the unique needs of patients and eliminates the opportunity to provide nuanced care.  A rare plurality of options from which patients can choose allows the Center to address healthcare needs in a manner specifically tailored to you, your values, your body and your pocketbook.  At the Center we apply this synergistic philosophy to mainstream medicine and “alternative” medicine.  Blending multiple and varied effective forms of healthcare within the same organization is a relatively new concept spearheaded by Dr. Swidler and promises to revolutionize outpatient healthcare delivery.

One definition of wellness:

The quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal.”

By opting out of accepting payment from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers, the Center is free from contractual obligations, red-tape and overwhelming bureaucracy so that we can focus our full attention and energy to helping our patients reach and maintain wellness.  Of course, the Center will provide visit documentation so that patients can pursue reimbursement from their insurer if desired.  One of the greatest impediments to high level wellness is when the patient is not comfortable with or open to the specific modality of medical care offered by an individual provider or clinic.  The Center hopes to overcome this and other limitations to wellness by taking the time and care necessary to individually match our wide variety of healing modalities with patient needs.

Sustainability can be defined:

“A method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.”

Sustainability is the care of becoming more and more of a pressing issue that far exceeds the scope of this article.  Whatever your political or personal views, the current systehealth carehcare is not sustainable.  With multiple important provisions of the Affordable Care Act (i.e. “Obama-care”) ready to become effective, many patients are worried and concerned about the future of their health care.  In addition, with our current complicated system patients are frequently unpleasantly surprised by limitations in care, medication formulary requirements and charges that seem to appear out of nowhere months after an office visit or procedure was completed.  At the Center, we simplify finance health care by charging flat-fees for our healthcare services. There are no hidden costs, no “gotcha” charges, no denials of care and no loss of coverage.  The Center is dedicated to providing high quality care at reasonable prices regardless of what happens with Obama-care or other health care reforms.

Thank you for this opportunity to briefly share the Center’s values, vision and mission.  If you are uncertain whether the Center meets your healthcare needs, please stop in for a free fifteen minute consultation where we can discuss your health and what the Center can offer to assist you. Call today for your appointment! 520.743.7101


New Practitioners at the Wellness Center

New Practitioners at the Wellness Center

Medicine Wheel Wellness Center is proud to announce and welcome our new Massage, Acupuncture and Yoga therapists.They are a wonderful addition to our integrative team and look forward to serving you on your journey towards greater health and well being. We are delighted to offer their expertise.

Dianne, our acupuncturist, will be in our office for appointments the first and third Wednesday of the month.

Patricia, our Yoga specialist, will be joining us mid-September. She will be available for Structural Reintegration / Re-education Therapy during the normal dental center hours. Patricia will also be giving a Therapeutic Yoga Flow Classes, please visit our calendar for times and dates.


 To book an appointment with any of our new practioners or if you have questions, please call the dental office 520.743.7101.

 If there are other services you would like to see offered at the Wellness Center, please let us know what they are.