Classroom to Simulation Lab to Yoga Mat (and Back)
by Sierra Rose
My summer was spent a little unconventionally. I took my NBDE part one exam, packed, and flew out of Denver that night at 3am to a little island in the Pacific: Maui, Hawaii. What on earth was I doing there alone and why wasn’t I sleeping, hanging out with family, or enjoying the few blissful weeks of no assignments and studying we are given between DS1 and DS2 year? I was switching to a whole new set of textbooks and concepts; I was training to become an internationally certified yoga teacher.
I enjoy being a contradiction. I find balance in maintaining my responsibilities as a dental student and a commissioned officer in the US Air Force while also being a free-minded yogi. I create yin and yang in my life and choose to embrace both extremes instead of choosing one over the other. In my world of black and white, right and wrong, and rigid rules, yoga flows freely and obeys nobody and nothing. It is my ironic anchor in a society that tends to be quite the opposite of zen.
Yoga is one of my passions, and I am a firm believer that a hobby is not a passion unless you are able to share it with others. Naturally, I felt called to become a teacher. My motivation to take on this adventure in the middle of dental school stemmed not only from the desire to share something I love with others, but to reach an audience that doesn’t always take the time to address their own physical and mental health: rising medical professionals.
Over the course of 16 days I spent tent-camping in the jungle, I danced in the rain and underneath rainbows, meditated on cliffsides, was blessed by a monk, swam in the ocean with sea turtles, watched the most incredible sunsets from craters in Haleakala National Park, spoke deeply with my newfound family members that came from all around the world, and learned a lot about myself, people, and of course, yoga.
Since my return to the ‘normal’ grind of dental school life on the US mainland, I’ve realized that my definition of yoga has expanded from what it used to be before I got on that 3am flight. Last month, I had the opportunity to teach a sunrise class to Colorado ASDA students and was amazed at the turnout despite many of us having exams and patients and stressors pulling us in every which direction. Yoga teaches us that amidst the bustle of whatever goes on in our days spent in clinic and the classroom, peace can be found within us. It gives us a non-judgmental community, a place of acceptance, a challenge when we ask for it, and a teacher of life when we don’t always ask for it but definitely need it. Asanas (poses) are only a small fraction of the equation.
As a yoga instructor and future dental professional, I aim to combine elements of both eastern and western medical approaches to encourage optimal health and wellness of my patients, fellow airmen, and my medical colleagues. I practice karma yoga; I do it for the good of others with the knowledge that when a wave is started, a ripple follows that is able to touch much more people than I am able to dream of reaching alone. I am fueled by my passions of dentistry and yoga to attack each day as a gentler, kinder, stronger person that is equipped to handle whatever challenges come my way and live to serve others, whether that be on the mat or in the clinic chair.
About The Author
Sierra Rose is currently a second year dental student at CU School of Dental Medicine from Marco Island, Florida. She is also 2LT in the United States Air Force and is excited to enter service as a military dentist after graduation. Driven by her passions for health, wellness, balance, and fun in dental school, she proudly serves as the Colorado ASDA Health and Wellness chairwoman. In her spare time, Sierra enjoys playing the guitar, yoga, and getting lost in the Rocky Mountains.