Blog Post

Risky Yoga Move Leaves Girl, 4, Paralyzed

A risky yoga move known as the “back bridge” is being blamed for the paralysis of a four year-old girl in China.

The Daily Mail is reporting on the tragic story of a young girl named Xiao Bao who was attending dance lessons in Zhengzhou, China, when her instructor, who was later found to be uncertified, asked the class to perform the “back bridge” pose. A CCTV video captures the moment when Xiao attempts to perform the pose, then collapses to the floor, unable to get up.

She was rushed to Zhengzhou Children’s Hospital where the head of neurosurgery, Doctor Qi Lin, told local media that although the girl did not break her spin, she suffered serious damage by trying to perform the difficult move. He referred to her injury as likely to be a spinal contusion.

“It's not looking optimistic,” Doctor Qi said. “There's a very big chance this child could be paralyzed for life in her lower body.”

The back bridge is a particularly risky move because of the stress it puts upon the spine.

“It’s the arched position of the back when you’re performing the back bridge that can be dangerous,” reports “This hyperextension of the back places significant compressive forces on your spine, which can in turn do damage to the discs in between your vertebrae.”

Possible injuries involve compressed discs or spondylolysis which occurs when a person has a defect or fracture in one of the vertebras.

Although we rarely read about it, yoga injuries such as these have been steadily increasing through the years. Experts in the industry and medical profession say there are a several reasons for this increase.

"More people perhaps are gravitating toward yoga who are not more prepared, or teachers or the studios that are opening perhaps aren't at the level they should be," says study co-author Gerald McGwin, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Injury Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

This has resulted in injuries ranging from mild to permanent disabilities, according to published reports in both the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

These include brain injuries which can arise from quick movements or excessive extensions of the neck, similar to whiplash. Such extreme motions of the head and neck can wound vertebral arteries, producing clots, swelling, and constriction, and generally wreaking havoc in the brain, according to the BMJ.

So why don't we hear more about these injuries?

The answer is simple - it's too costly.

In The Learn to Discern Compendium, you'll learn that the yoga industry is currently a $27 billion a year business in the U.S. with more than 70,000 instructors and anywhere from 35 to 40 million students.

With that much money at stake, it's no wonder the silence surrounding these injuries is nearly impenetrable.

We can only hope that the grave injury suffered by this innocent little girl will serve as a warning to yoga enthusiasts everywhere about the very real dark side of this practice.

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