Mindful Yoga for Cancer

Level 1 Professional Training

with Kimberly Carson, MPH, C-IAYT & Jim Carson, PhD

Mindful Yoga for Cancer is a seven-day professional training program offered to registered yoga instructors at the state-of-the-art integrative medicine center at Duke University Medical Center. Mindful Yoga, as applied in clinical trials of the “Yoga of Awareness” intervention, has been shown to be helpful for various stages of the breast cancer experience (see Research for details), resulting in lower pain, fatigue and emotional distress while increasing vigor, acceptance, and relaxation.

Mindful Yoga elegantly and systematically integrates the deep essence of yoga with contemporary wisdom and research. In the ancient yogic texts it is stated: “Physical sensations – cold and heat, pleasure and pain – are transient: they come and go; so bear them patiently.” How does one really live this teaching? And how can we convey this wisdom in a practical, accessible way so that people living with cancer can discover authentic relief? We believe that the deeper yogic teachings, including how to relate to difficult sensations, thoughts and emotions, are essential for yoga to be optimally effective for helping people with cancer-related symptoms to lead fulfilling lives.

Mindful Yoga as we teach it is distinct from many current hatha yoga styles in that 1) it intensively emphasizes moment-to-moment mind/body awareness during asana practice, rather than the precise execution of postural alignments; and 2) substantial practice of meditation, breathing exercises, key principles of yoga philosophy, and community with other yoga practitioners are highlighted along with posture practice. Mindful Yoga is thus consistent with how the discipline of yoga has been traditionally practiced in India. Traditional topics are explored in Mindful Yoga, such as the principles of simple being (sat), awareness (chit), love (ananda), acceptance (tapas), and skill in action (karmasu kaushalam). Also modern concerns are addressed, such as the physiological underpinnings of mind/body stress reactivity, and how yoga may have beneficial effects on stress-related problems.

This powerful and transformative training is a blend of instruction, practice and discussion. The training will focus on tailoring the program for people living with breast as well as other types of cancer. Duke faculty will also provide expert presentations on important aspects of the cancer experience, such as cancer-related pain, psychosocial aspects of cancer, exercise physiology of cancer, physical therapy for cancer patients, and palliative care.

During this training, we will explore:

  • Evidence-based modules for cancer-related symptoms
  • Tailoring asana and pranayama to specific symptoms
  • Principles of Mindful Yoga
  • Contexting yogic principles for people from various faith traditions
  • Effective and clear ways of presenting models of stress
  • Appropriate guidance for working with the mind
  • Partnering with the medical community
  • Group facilitation skills

Upon completion of the training, participants will receive a certificate of completion from Duke Integrative Medicine. This certificate is a step in the process of becoming a certified Yoga of Awareness teacher. Further steps for becoming a certified Mindful Yoga teacher are outlined here.


For All Levels

Fall 2024 ~ TBD

Durham, NC



Meditation begins by rooting attention, deepens into Acceptance and blossoms into the lightness of Being, the ease of Presence.

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Meditation begins by rooting attention, deepens into Acceptance and blossoms into the lightness of Being, the ease of Presence.


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