Donna Karan: ‘Yoga Keeps Me Spiritually Centered’

Fashion designer Donna Karan, founder and creator of Donna Karan New York and DKNY fashion labels, says her fashion empire all began with inspiration from an unlikely place—yoga.

The designer’s trademark style—stretchy, comfortable, sporty clothes—was formed out of her love for yoga.She wanted to create clothing to do yoga in as well as be able to wear relaxing or out and about.

According to an article, the legendary fashion designer started practicing yoga when she was 18 and continues that practice every morning for at least an hour. Yoga keeps her fit and toned, Karan says, but what she considers even more important is its ability to keep her spiritually centered.

“I’ve always been a yogi, always on a path,” she said at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York on October 27. “I chose a spiritual path because without that, life makes no sense.”

Karan says she believes everyone can learn and benefit from the ancient practice. “People think yoga is about being able to put your leg behind your head,” she says, “but the highest form of yoga is sitting still and just breathing.”

Karan says yoga also helped her cope with the untimely death of her husband, artist Stephan Weiss, who passed away from lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 62. The experience led her to become a supporter of alternative therapies for healthcare.

The deaths of three of Karan’s close friends also shaped her life perspective. She says the losses have shifted her life’s focus to one of positivity, optimism and contribution.

In 2007, six years after her husband’s death, Karan founded the Urban Zen Foundation in Manhattan, where she promotes yoga, nutrition and alternative therapies. She is an advocate for changing the health care system to include more holistic and Eastern medicine alongside conventional westernized practices.

The Urban Zen Foundation website says that the center “creates, connects and collaborates to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures and empowering children in mind, body and spirit.”

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