Just when fatwas were getting you down…good news! Sorry for the lengthy post…but it’s good news! We need good news!
The NY Times reports today that Donna Karan (yep the DKNY fashion designer Donna Karan) is donating $850,000 to Beth Israel Hospital in New York City and taking over the cancer-treatment floor to turn it into a yoga recovery center; it’s a 1-year experiment where patients can participate in yoga practice, meditation and aromatherapy to help relieve symptoms of cancer and treatment (often pain, nausea, anxiety), which will all be documented for research. Karan was inspired to take action after she lost her husband to lung cancer in 2001 and her friend and colleague, Lynn Kohlman, to brain cancer just this past September. In her husband’s case, he was treated with traditional and integrative medicine, but Karan saw a lack of holistic care and attention to the mind-body connection, a gap she hopes will be filled with the integration of yoga.
Further details reveal Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation (established after her husband’s death) will be covering the cost of the hall makeover to begin in November, and the salaries for the planned 15 staffed yoga teachers, a program director and “concierge”/greeter type position slated to start work in January ’09. The infamous Yee yoga duo (Rodney and wife Colleen) will be overseeing the experiment.
While the doctors involved are supportive of the effort’s intention they do seem to question whether or not the “research” aspect falls in line with traditional clinical testing. But on a positive note, research director Dr. Benjamin Kligler, did admit that perhaps it’s time to consider a new model for what he referred to as “lifestyle interventions.” After which we felt compelled to jump Dr. Ben a give him a big bear hug. Um..It’s about freakin’ time!
So, hopefully the research element and conclusions to the year-long experiment will spur other US medical facilities to incorporate a similar program, hopefully with the support of science to supersede the notion that yoga is all just touchy-feely.
And we have to add…What is perhaps the most potentially exciting bit about this news is that as the medical community moves to accepting yoga as supplemental treatment, so will the insurance companies! Affordable health care and yoga for all! Now that sounds like something to run on doesn’t it.