Yoga can cause and worsen pain: study

Yoga can help relieve those aches and pains but it can also lead to an injury, researchers warn.

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A University of Sydney found yoga caused musculoskeletal pain – mostly in the arms – in more than 10 per cent of participants.

Yoga also exacerbated 21 per cent of existing injuries.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Evangelos Pappas says the risk of pain caused by yoga is higher than previously reported.

“Yoga may be a bit more dangerous than previously thought,” Prof Pappas told AAP.

“Our study found that the incidence of pain caused by yoga is more than 10 per cent per year, which is comparable to the injury rate of all sports injuries combined among the physically active population,” he said.

The prospective study assessed more than 350 people who attended yoga classes at two studios in New York.

Participants, mostly women with an average age of 45, were asked to complete a questionnaire at recruitment and again after one year.

Most of the “new” pain (13.3 per cent) reported was either in the shoulder, elbow, wrist or hand.

Prof Pappas, who himself is a yoga instructor, says this makes sense because the upper limbs were not designed to support a lot of weight.

“And in yoga you actually you have a lot of these inversions, the downward dogs, that put lots of weight on the upper extremities,” he said.

The good news, however two-thirds, or 74 per cent, did report yoga improved pain in the lower back and the neck.

The findings are published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.

Given yoga’s popularity and perceived safety, it’s important that participants treat it like any other exercise, says Prof Pappas.

“These findings can be useful for clinicians and individuals to compare the risks of yoga to other exercise enabling them to make informed decisions about which types of activity are best,” said Prof Pappas.

It’s recommended that yoga participants discuss any pre-existing pain, especially in the upper limbs, with yoga teachers and a physiotherapist to explore posture modifications.

Trump’s torture ‘flirtation’ a threat: UN

The United Nations’ top rights official has accused US President Donald Trump of breaking taboos by suggesting bringing back torture, and warned world powers against undermining civil liberties in their fight against Islamist militants.

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Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein also lambasted British Prime Minister Theresa May for threatening to change human rights laws if they got in the way of security operations, saying her words would give heart to authoritarian governments.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights told an audience in London on Monday that the struggle against terrorism was “being exploited by governments” and risked undermining international rights treaties.

“And this contagion is spreading, fast,” Zeid said, citing suppression of dissent in Egypt, Bahrain and Turkey “under the banner of fighting terrorism”.

Trump said in January that he thought waterboarding – an interrogation technique banned by President Barack Obama that simulates drowning – worked as an intelligence-gathering tool.

Zeid said he was worried by Trump’s “persistent flirtation” with a return to torture. There was little immediate danger of the United States using torture in interrogations, but that could change if there was an attack on US soil, he said.

“Mindful of how the American public has, over the last 10 years, become far more accepting of torture, the balance could be tipped in favour of its practice.”

After attacks on London and Manchester, May told The Sun that if human rights laws “get in the way” of measures to tackle Islamist militancy, “we will change those laws to make sure we can do them”.

Zeid said her remarks no doubt reflected real anger but also seemed “intended to strike a chord with a certain sector of the electorate, and it is this expectation that truly worries me”.

ASEAN helps 50 years of stability: Wong

Federal Labor is heaping praise on a club of southeast Asian nations for creating a diplomatic platform allowing great powers like the US and China to engage in neutral territory.

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Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong will deliver a speech to the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Yangon on Wednesday, reflecting on 50 years of ASEAN.

She’ll argue the Association of South East Asian Nations has made extraordinary progress in establishing its credentials as a major regional and global actor in the political and strategic domain.

“The region has enjoyed remarkable stability for the past half century, and while economic co-operation remains a work in progress, considerable progress has been made in combating transnational crime, counter-terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering,” Senator Wong will say.

“So, to my mind, the real question is not just ‘what has ASEAN achieved’ but more ‘where would we be without it?'”

Senator Wong will acknowledge there are many naysayers about ASEAN’s consultative and conciliatory approach to issues which sometimes created barriers to progress.

“Those who have acquired a measure of impatience with ASEAN, for its avoidance of disagreement, have something of a point,” she says.

“While tensions may be kept under the carpet, as they were in 1967, they still need to be dealt with, as they also were in 1967.”

For ASEAN to grow and prosper over the next 50 years, it will need to address some major obstacles to economic growth and economic integration, she says.

Australia is set to host ASEAN leaders in Sydney in March next year for a special summit.

Bulldogs can still make the finals: Graham

Canterbury’s finals hopes could be extinguished by the time he gets back on the park but skipper James Graham says write them off at your own peril.

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The Bulldogs’ fading top eight hopes received a double blow on Tuesday when it was announced Graham would miss the next month with a neck injury while Greg Eastwood (knee) was set for five to six weeks on the sidelines.

The equation is simple for Des Hasler’s side – win six of their last nine NRL games or miss the finals for the first time since 2011.

Graham said he still believed in his side’s top eight aspirations despite having won just once in the last six weeks.

“Anytime we’ve had some bad form it’s blindsided us cause you have your belief systems in place about where you think the team is going and the utmost confidence in your ability and your team’s ability,” Graham told Fox Sports’ NRL360.

“Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. When you’re in a form slump, it’s something that definitely blindsides you.”

Graham is set to miss key clashes against Parramatta this Thursday, Newcastle and Brisbane, meaning his side’s season could be effectively over by the time he returns.

He will undergo minor surgery to repair a neck and shoulder problem which has been bothering him for several weeks.

With the Bulldogs having scored the least points (208) and made the least linebreaks (3.2 per game), they’ve been forced to wear criticism of their playing style and commitment.

Graham defended their character and said they were simply being let down by their execution.

“This is the toughest sporting competition in the world, it’s the closest sporting competition in the world so that’s going to create some good teams that end up getting beaten,” Graham said.

“The biggest thing for the Canterbury Bulldogs is it definitely isn’t an effort problem. Obviously we’re disappointed with where we’re at but 100 per cent the effort is still there.

“We’re probably lacking a little bit on execution.That’s something that can be fixed. We can play a little bit smarter at times.”

US brands China as among worst human trafficking offenders

Trump, however, has grown increasingly frustrated over China’s inaction on North Korea and bilateral trade issues and is now considering possible trade actions against Beijing, three senior administration officials told Reuters.

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Myanmar was upgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List of nations that deserve special scrutiny, from Tier 3, those countries not complying with minimum US standards and making no significant effort to do so.

Afghanistan, Malaysia and Qatar moved up to Tier 2, a list of nations making significant efforts to comply, from the Tier 2 Watch List.

Tier 1 designates nations that meet minimum U.S. standards.

The report said China convicted fewer sex and labor traffickers in the 12 months ended on March 31 than in the

previous year, forcibly repatriated North Koreans without screening them for indicators of trafficking, and handled most forced labor cases as administrative issues rather than criminal prosecutions.

“China was downgraded to Tier 3 status in this year’s report in part because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking, including forced laborers from North Korea that are located in China,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said as he presented the report.

For the previous three years, China was on the Tier 2 Watch List. It was last in Tier 3, the lowest ranking, in 2013.

A Tier 3 rating can trigger sanctions limiting access to U.S. and international aid, but US presidents frequently waive such action.

Tillerson presented the report in the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin room alongside Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser.

A crowd of about 300 people including Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Representative Darrell Issa, attended the ceremony.

Ivanka Trump has tried to make the fight against human trafficking one of her signature issues. She was instrumental in arranging a White House meeting with anti-trafficking activists that Trump attended in the first few weeks of the administration.

During a visit to Rome last month, she met privately with a group of African women who had been trafficked into prostitution. 

Beijing confirmed this month it had detained labor rights activists who scrutinized conditions at a Chinese company making shoes for Ivanka Trump’s namesake apparel line. The State Department has urged China to release the activists immediately. 

The State Department on Tuesday also removed Iraq and Myanmar from a list of countries that recruit and use child soldiers.

The announcement confirmed a report by Reuters on Friday. U.S. officials told the news agency that Tillerson had disregarded recommendations of State Department experts, senior U.S. diplomats and the State Department’s legal office to keep the countries on the list.

The State Department declined to comment on how the decision was made, saying it “does not discuss details of internal deliberations.”

Human rights advocates criticized the decision, saying that international observers continue to document child recruitment by both countries’ militaries.

Under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008, the US government must be satisfied that “no children are recruited, conscripted or otherwise compelled to serve as child soldiers” for a country to be removed from the list and US military assistance to resume.

“Taking (Myanmar) and Iraq off the list when they continue to use child soldiers is both contrary to U.S. law and harms children still in the ranks,” Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Monday.

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