The New York Times reports that Donna Karan is setting up a yoga program (led by Rodney and Colleen Yee) at Beth Israel Hospital here in New York. It’s part of her Urban Zen Foundation, created after her husband died of lung cancer in 2001. The cancer ward will receive fifteen yoga teachers to work with nonterminal patients, and nurses will be trained in relaxation techniques. It will also be redesigned by a feng shui master to have meditation nooks and earthy decor.
It’s a one-year, $850,000 experiment that has a structured research component as well. Hopefully the results will spur more integration of alternative healing into the Western medical system. Beth Israel already leads hospitals in that effect; it is apparently one of few with a distinct, well-supported “integrative medicine” department, but Karan hopes to prove “that the Urban Zen regime can reduce classic symptoms of cancer and its treatment, like pain, nausea and anxiety (thereby cutting hospital stays and costs) and serve as a model for replication elsewhere.”