Ten months post-partum and I finally have a good rhythm going and feel ready to take on a new challenge. No, that does not mean another kid (yet), I am ready to go back to school! I have decided to enroll in a one year, 625 hour program to become an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor. If you are wondering what the heck Ayurveda is, how it differs from my degree in Nutrition, and what the next year of school looks like for me, read on to see why I chose this path and what I plan to do when I graduate. I am excited to share my journey with everyone here and on social media (visit my Instagram page here), and if you ever have questions about the Kerala Ayurveda Academy where I will be doing my studies, please feel free to send me a DM anytime and I will give you my honest opinion always!
What is Ayurveda?
The word Ayurveda means “life science”. Ayurvedic medicine is the most ancient, documented form of medicine developed in India over 3,000 years ago. All of today’s modern medicine stems from this mind-body health system. There seems to be a divide between Eastern and Western medicine nowadays, but I personally believe that the two go hand in hand. Ayurveda’s main principles are:
1.) Preservation of health: How to maintain wellness and what to do to keep your body healthy and fit to avoid illness.
2.) Methods, medicine, and tactics for disease management and ailments- how to cure and procure a return to health*.
Why did I choose to go into this profession?
I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition from Simmons College about 11 years ago (whoa typing that made me feel old) and I remember having to do a rotation in a hospital one semester and feeling very discouraged because most of the patients that I had to see were seeing me because they had to, not because they wanted to. A patient told me once during a nutritional assessment that she drank 11 Diet Cokes a day and had no intentions of ever stopping…Great. After college I vowed to have a job in wellness where I could help people, but at the same time I wanted clients that would come to me because they wanted to and were willing to make healthy changes in their life, thus how my career as a personal trainer began. Shortly after college I also became a vegan, and suddenly things I had learned about in school (i.e The Food Pyramid, consuming dairy as a primary source of calcium, eating meat for protein, etc) no longer felt aligned with my beliefs. I began to do a lot of research on my own and discovered things that were not taught to us in college- like the fact that some of the biggest studies done on the dairy industry are funded by the dairy industry themselves! In other words, the dairy industry funds studies and advertisements to put out information (like “needing” calcium from milk for strong bones) so that our money will go towards this multi-billion dollar industry. A piece of me felt like a lot of things that I had learned in school were a lie and I had to forge my own path.
Fast forward to a few years later when I decide to enroll in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I finally found a school that was more in line with what I believed in, and though I did enjoy the program, I felt that the curriculum was very general and I wanted to take the next step towards something more specialized. This leads me to my decision to enroll in an Ayurvedic school.
Why did I choose Kerala Ayurveda Academy?
After making the decision to pursue my studies in Ayurveda, there were two main criteria that I was looking for in a school:
1.) A school that was accredited by the National Ayurvedic Medial Association (NAMA)
2.) A school that offered distance learning, or a local school with a manageable class schedule
I went to NAMAs website where they listed all of the schools whose programs have been reviewed and recognized as providing training at the professional membership level of Ayurvedic Health Counselor (view list here). Though I was originally interested in attending the Boston Ayurveda School, their in-class schedule was not realistic for me as a busy mom. I ended up narrowing down my search to a couple (of the very few) schools that offered a distance learning program.
Kerala Ayurveda Academy really piqued my interest because it is one of the premier Ayurvedic institutions in the U.S. with deep roots in Ayurveda’s birthplace (Kerala, India). Kerala Ayurveda is part of Kerala Ayurveda Ltd which is a full spectrum Ayurvedic company spanning academies, products, research, clinics, hospitals, resorts and wellness services. Their network includes:
- 30 clinics, 4 hospitals, and 2 retreat centres throughout India and currently over 70,000 clients a year
- One of the largest herbal gardens in India with a collection of over 1200 species
- A modern GMP certified manufacturing facility producing a total of 350 classical and proprietary herbal formulations
- One of the strongest global research teams developing holistic health solutions for various ailments so as to adapt to the requirements of the modern world without losing its original teachings and practices
After attending an informational webinar about their upcoming certification, I was highly impressed with their modern program which consisted of in-class lectures as well as live streamed (and recorded) lectures for distance learners. During the live-streamed classes there is a moderator that allows you to ask questions throughout the lecture so it is very interactive. If a student is not able to make a live lecture, the class is recorded and a moderator is available by e-mail for any questions, so you will always have support. Kerala also offers a free Introduction to Ayurveda course that anyone can take, so I enrolled in the course before committing to the AWC certification and it was a great way for me to get a feel for some of the teachers at the school as well as what it’s like to take class online since it was my first time doing to. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the free course and was even more stoked about the program after attending the webinar, so I knew that Kerala was the right school for me!
How much is the course, how long is it and what is the workload like?
I will admit that the course cost is an investment, $5,000, but they do offer payment programs to help make it accessible for people. I also think that with the amount of information that is given it is worth it. The year-long course is a total of 625 hours and includes:
- 11 Weekend Intensives
- 25 Tuesday virtual classes
- Additional weekly online recorded lectures, tests, quizzes, projects
- A 4 day intensive in California that is part of the tuition, but not mandatory. (Though it is optional, I definitely plan to do this because it will involve a lot of hands on lessons and it will also be nice to meet the teachers and my fellow classmates in person.)
After completing your Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor certification, what will your scope of practice be?
Upon completion of the course, I will be able to practice as an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor and will be able to provide clients with practical information on wellness and the prevention of disease. My scope of practice will include the ability to:
- Conduct Ayurvedic lifestyle consultations
- Give Ayurvedic guidance on daily routines, pranayama and meditation
- Offer guidance on special Ayurvedic therapies and home remedies (such as herbal supplements, oils, teas, tinctures, etc)
I cannot say what direction my life and business will take by the time I graduate, but I envision having clients either in-person, via Skype or telephone and also using my certification in combination with my NASM personal training certification for clients to create a business that revolves around holistic health and fitness.
What will the future hold for me and my studies?
After completing my Level 1 Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor certification, if I choose to expand my scope of practice, I will have the option of doing a Level 2 Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner (1,000 hour program) and perhaps a Level 3 Ayurvedic Doctor Program (2.5 years).
In the meantime, I am excited to use my social media to share my journey into Ayurveda, my experience at Kerala, and all of the amazing things that I learn around the way! I hope to be able to translate this ancient practice into a more modern way of life for anyone who is interested, because I truly think that health requires a balance between the mental, physical and spiritual. Namaste!
*Quote from the book “Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda”
Learn more about Kerala Ayurveda Academy here!