Yoga of Awareness—Mindfulness Based Yoga Therapy
“As all waves are in the ocean, so are all things physical and mental in awareness. Hence awareness itself is all-important, not the content of it. Deepen and broaden your awareness of yourself, and all the blessings will flow.” Nisargadatta
This is how Yoga of Awareness-founders Jim and Kimberley Carson describe their Yoga of Awareness program, which is being used as yoga therapy at Duke University of Medicine in the treatment of people with cancer. Yoga of Awareness is an innovative, 8-week course designed to help people manage stress and live more productive and fulfilling lives. Participants in the Duke University of Medicine study reported decreases in physical symptoms like fatigue, pain, insomnia, hot flashes and depression, as well as increases in energy level and relaxation.
The Carsons are yogis and medical health professionals who have dedicated their careers to using mindfulness techniques in order to alleviate suffering. Jim Carson (PhD), is a former monk and current health psychologist at Oregon Health & Science University, and Kimberly Carson (MPH, eRYT) is a health educator and yoga therapist. Together with their colleagues at Duke, they developed the first loving-kindness meditation for medical patients, and, more recently, have developed the ground-breaking Yoga of Awareness program.
Classes consist of gentle stretching, meditation techniques and breathing exercises. Participants report greater relaxation and vitality, along with an increased capacity to tolerate symptoms. Patients who do not have physical symptoms but who face other difficulties are welcome—instructors tailor their classes to individual patients’ needs.
As a program, Yoga of Awareness is intended to be a complement to ongoing medical treatment, and focuses on helping patients connect more fully with their “inner resources” to cope with physical and emotional difficulties. The program aims to help patients “live skillfully” as they “find their balance and keep their poise amidst the tumult of life’s ever-changing challenges.”