New website aims to make yoga safer for everyone

Emergency room visits for yoga injuries have increased 70% in the past five years for over 36 million Americans who practice yoga. To make yoga safer for everyone and to prevent yoga-related injuries, Loren Fishman, MD, has launched YIP-;Yoga Injury Prevention (YIP.Guru), a searchable interactive web site. This safety tool is the first and only one of its type.

"YIP comes at a time when more people are doing yoga and more physicians are recommending it to address a variety of medical conditions," says Loren Fishman, MD, founder of YIP.

Teachers, therapists and students-;anyone interested in yoga -- can search this reference tool by yoga pose or by medical condition(s) for safe and unsafe poses, both on laptops and on mobile devices.

YIP covers 90+ yoga poses and 60+ medical conditions, including back pain, arthritis, rotator cuff tear and orthopedic problems, of which strains and sprains are the most common yoga injuries. Explanations for why specific poses are not recommended for certain medical conditions are provided. There are also recommendations for modifications and props, and alternative safe poses for specific medical conditions. Plus, YIP users can search for beneficial poses to help treat or cure various physical or medical problems.

"Patients come to me every day with injuries sustained or exacerbated while doing yoga," says Dr. Fishman, who collaborated on YIP with world-recognized master yoga teacher Carrie Owerko. "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."

An added benefit for instructors who often see potential physical problems that specific yoga poses might cause is that YIP can be used to find alternatives, even for those without medical conditions.

A survey of 33,000 yoga teachers done by Dr. Fishman* showed that yoga injuries occurred both in class and at home, and were caused mostly by poor technique or alignment, previous injury, excess effort and improper or inadequate instruction. A majority of participants revealed that their most common and severe injuries occurred in the neck, lower back, shoulders, wrists and knees, all of which YIP covers.

YIP should prove an invaluable tool for registered yoga teachers, unregistered teachers and the group studying to become teachers and therapists. Three years ago there were close to 53,000 registered yoga teachers and over 18,000 yoga schools registered with the Yoga Alliance, about 26,000 unregistered teachers and two people interested in becoming a yoga teacher for every one teacher in the U.S.

These yogis may need more anatomical and medical information, despite training, according to Dr. Fishman. They will be able to use YIP, which is subscription-based, to look up medical information easily.

"Yoga teachers need to understand medical conditions and how they relate to yoga," says experienced yoga teacher and yoga therapist Gabriella Barnstone, 500 CYT, C-IAYT. YIP is helping fill in where yoga teacher trainings are lacking."

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