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Yoga injuries have spiked a *lot* in the past few years—so here’s a tool to help you flow safely


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Photo: Stocksy/Christine Love Hewitt

Thanks in large part to yoga’s overlap with meditation, the “namaste and chill” practice is one of the most Zen ways to sweat. So when you spend a 60-minute sesh forward-folding, planking, and doing headstands, the possibility of injury may not even cross your mind. Yet, emergency-room visits for yoga injuries have escalated by 70 percent in the past five years for the 36 million Americans who hit the mat on the reg, News Medical reports (though the study specifics are not readily available online). And one doc developed a tool to reverse these effects.

Dr. Loren Fishman, an NYC-based MD who specializes in treating yoga-related injuries, reportedly surveyed 33,000 yoga teachers on their practice to pinpoint how post-flow hardships may originate. He found that injuries occur in class and at home and usually happen due to unsafe techniques or alignment, previous injury, excess effort, or a lack of adequate instruction on the part of the teacher. The most affected body parts are the neck, lower back, shoulders, wrists, and knees.

The platform provides info on more than 90 yoga poses and upwards of 60 medical conditions and also explains why certain poses just don’t jibe with ailments like back pain, arthritis, or rotator-cuff tears.

To help reduce the staggering new asana stats, Dr. Fishman just released Yoga Injury Prevention (yip.guru), a yoga safety tool that basically homeschools you on your yoga-related injuries, how to achieve the proper alignment in postures like wheel, and every yoga-curious question under the sun (salutations). With a $25 three-month subscription, the site provides info on more than 90 yoga poses and upwards of 60 medical conditions and also explains why certain poses just don’t jibe with ailments like back pain, arthritis, or rotator-cuff tears. On the flip side, YIP also recommends postures that may help you vinyasa your way back to good health.

Although the database will be useful to the average yogi, Dr. Fishman points out that instructors can use it to brush up on their anatomy knowledge, alignment cues, and injury-prevention techniques. As of three years ago, about 53,000 teachers were registered through Yoga Alliance, but another 26,000 unregistered instructors (yikes!) taught in the United States. “I hope this searchable compendium of safe and unsafe poses in YIP can reduce not only emergency-room visits but many thousands of other yoga injuries every year,” Dr. Fishman says.

More in-the-know teachers equals better yoga classes—which is something that benefits everyone, right?

If you’re also a runner, these are the five injuries you should know about. Plus, why some people just never seem to get them.

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