Fashion Icon Donna Karan Launches Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program at UCLA

Finding calm amidst the chaos, bringing like-minded people together, and getting to a point where a life threatening disease can be dealt with in a healthy way through spiritual healing and alternative medicine is the goal of Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program (UZIT) at UCLA, which launches today, November 17, 2024.

The idea for such a program was born when world-renowned fashion designer Karan felt a deep desire to see that her husband Stephan Weiss, who was dying of lung cancer, received the soul healing spiritual care not offered by traditional Western medicine.

Today, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is partnering with Karan’s UZIT to become the first hospital on the West Coast to offer yoga therapy, mindfulness meditation, nutrition, Reiki, and aromatherapy for patients at their bedside and beyond.

According to Dr. David Feinberg, president of the UCLA Health System, CEO of the UCLA Hospital System, and associate vice chancellor for health sciences, UZIT works perfectly at UCLA as it matches their mission of treating the whole patient rather than just the symptoms of a particular illness.

Since September, the first group of 30 professionals at UCLA have undergone intensive training in order to customize these alternative therapies so they may be qualified to personally address and soothe discomfort in their patients from pain, anxiety, nausea or other complications from cancer and further life threatening illnesses. These select health care providers include doctors, nurses, therapists, and social workers.

What is involved in the training?

Upon meeting the course prerequisites, students will learn during a 12-month period how Eastern healing techniques, yoga therapy, essential oil therapy, and nutrition are used in combination with Western medicine in a holistic approach to care for each patient. After a series of successful evaluations, participants will receive a certification based on the following program obligations.

  • Workshop attendance to meet the 500-hour requirement of advanced yoga teacher training set by Yoga Alliance.
  • Participation at a silent meditation retreat.
  • A clinical rotation of 100 supervised hours with patients.
  • Fifteen hours of community service that involves participation in Urban Zen Foundation events where integrative and alternative therapies are needed.

Who are the instructors?

The impressive selection of faculty members include esteemed yoga teachers Rodney Yee and his wife Colleen Saidman Yee, Buddhist teacher and Zen priest Roshi Joan Halifax, aromatherapy expert Tracy Griffiths, Reiki Master Lena Falth. In addition to Yee and Yee, Richard Freeman and Richard Rosen will also be contributing their decades of yoga expertise to the program.

What is the cost?
The Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program certification costs $7,500. Scholarship programs and payment options are available.

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