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The history of Yoga and Ayurveda

Does Yoga make you think of people wound up like pretzels in poses? And if you’re familiar with Ayurveda, does it conjure up images of folks downing mung bean and rice Khichdi? Both are so much more! Ayurveda and Yoga are 5,000-year-old Vedic sciences originating in ancient India.  Ayurveda (Ayur = life, Veda = Science) is the “Science of Life” and the oldest known form of medicine. Holistic in nature, Ayurveda offers robust protocols for prevention and disease management.  “Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” which means the union of the individual with universal consciousness achieved through the practice of asanas, pranayama, and meditation.  Together Ayurveda and Yoga bring balance to mind, body, and spirit, resulting in happiness, longevity, and better health. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history, evolution, and connection between these two Vedic disciplines.

The early history of Ayurveda and Yoga

The Vedic texts

The Vedas are ancient scriptures, composed in Sanskrit, and said to have been cognized thousands of years ago. They are a collection of poems and hymns originally passed on through oral tradition and then finally written down around 1500 BCE – 500 CE. There are four Vedic texts known today: the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda, and the Atharva Veda, each focusing on specific subjects or Upavedas. The origin of both Ayurveda and Yoga can be traced back to the Rig Veda. And while the Rig Veda speaks to medicine, the Atharvaveda contains the majority of the medical ideas pertaining to Ayurveda. 

The evolution of Ayurvedic knowledge

Between 1000-700 BC, Ayurveda developed into eight branches or specialties: internal medicine (kayachikitsa), surgery (shalya tantra), eye, ear, nose, and throat diseases (shalakya tantra), pediatrics (kaumarabhritya), toxicology (agada tantra), psychiatry (bhuta vidya), rejuvenation (rasayana) and aphrodisiacs or sexual vitality (vajikarana). Additionally, two schools were formed during that time, the Atreya School of Physicians, and the Dhanvantari School of Surgeons.

The mantras and religious aspects of medicine presented in the Vedas were eventually subjected to tests for efficacy based on more scientific thinking and then rearranged into compilations known as the Samhitas.

The three oldest and most authentic Samhitas, also known as the Great Trio or Brihat Trayi, are the Charaka Samhita (400-200 BCE), Sushruta Samhita (composed between 1500-1000 BCE, and adapted in the second century BCE), and Ashtanga Hridayam Samhita (400-500 CE). The Charaka Samhita focuses on internal medicine representing the Atreya school of physicians, the Sushruta Samhita on surgery or Dhanvantari school of surgeons, and the Ashtanga Hridayam Samhita the eight branches or specialties of Ayurveda.

The development of Yogic knowledge

Maharishi Patanjali, the father of classical yoga, wrote the Yoga Sutras around 500 BC. The Sutras are considered the authoritative text on Yoga and outline its eight limbs: Yama (social ethics), Niyama (personal ethics), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breathwork), Pratyahara (withdrawing senses), Dharana (one-pointed focus), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (merging with the self). 

The Bhagavad Gita simplified the Yoga Sutras and further expanded upon them through its powerful dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna. During this exchange, three distinct types of Yoga are discussed: the Yoga of Action (Karma Yoga), the Yoga of Knowledge (Jnana Yoga), and the Yoga of Devotion (Bhakti Yoga).

Written in the 15th century by Svatmarama, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Light on Hatha Yoga) later documented the practices of yoga through asana, mudra, meditation, and pranayama. As you can see, the history of Yoga includes so much more than just the asanas!

The spread of Ayurveda and Yoga

Yoga was introduced to the West in the 19th century. Much credit for its migration is often given to Swami Vivekananda, who gave lectures, established learning centers, and promoted Yoga philosophy throughout the U.S. Paramahansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi) further contributed to the expansion of the history of Yoga in the West through his lectures, centers, and writings during the 1920s. 

During the same period in India, Krishnamacharya popularized Hatha Yoga with a focus on physical practice or asana. Two of his students, B.K.S Iyengar and T.K.V. Desikachar developed and spread their own adaptations of hatha and vinyasa yoga throughout the U.S., resulting in the predominant type of Yoga practice we see today. 

While Yoga was part of daily life in India and gaining popularity in the U.S., it did not bring along its sister science, Ayurveda. India’s history is rife with Mughal invasions and British colonization. Ayurveda, as a medical science in India, was suppressed by the British. In 1833, all Ayurvedic colleges were banned. Many traditions, lineages, and knowledge were lost or destroyed. After independence from colonial rule in 1947, Ayurveda was revived and standardized by the Indian Government. 

The Vedic texts and present-day spiritual culture inspired countless writers and artists between the 19th-20th centuries, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and T.S. Eliot. The Beatles, whose interest in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s organization of Transcendental Meditation, helped pave the way for Vedic influence on the New Age movement in the U.S. during the 1970s. In the 1980s, Indian physicians such as Vansant Lad and Deepak Chopra, began to teach and write about Ayurveda, setting the wave in motion for future growth.

Today, Ayurvedic schools, professionals, manufacturers, and organizations abound, and Ayurveda continues to spread as a lifestyle-based, preventive, personalized, and natural form of medicine the world over.

The benefits of connecting Ayurveda and Yoga

As sister sciences, Ayurveda and Yoga work together to provide great benefits at all levels. Yoga provides support to the mind and spirit, and Ayurveda awakens self-healing of the mind-body’s imbalances and diseases. When combined, both help the individual to attain the highest form of healing, self-realization, or the transformation from physical existence to spiritual being.

“Yoga is the intelligence of prana seeking greater evolutionary transformations, while Ayurveda is its healing power seeking to consolidate the life systems it has already developed”.

– David Frawley

Kerala Ayurveda awarded Top Alternative Medicine Company 2023 by Pharma Tech Outlook

We’re grateful to be honored by Pharma Tech Outlook as a Top Alternative Medicine Company 2023.

For their February magazine, Kerala Ayurveda’s CEO and Academy Director, Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath (BAMS, BSc) spoke with the Pharma Tech Outlook team in an exclusive feature.

“This is another recognition for Ayurveda in the USA,” shared Vaidya. Jayarajan on social media. “I am grateful to my family, friends, teachers, all my team members, our students, and well-wishers for their support in our journey.”

A decade ago, Vaidya. Jayarajan moved his family to the U.S. to support the growth of Ayurveda in the West. Under his guidance, Kerala Ayurveda USA has grown in all sectors, offering more training opportunities, wellness services, and herbal solutions combined than any other Ayurvedic company in the country. Supporting the growth of alternative healthcare systems is a slow process, and this recognition as a tope alternative medicine company is a much-appreciated win for Ayurveda.

You can view the full February feature in the latest issue of Pharma Tech Outlook magazine. We’re honored to be featured on the cover!

The abbreviated profile is also available on their website.

Top Ten Alternative Medicine Company 2023

Weight management myths dispelled by Ayurveda

Kerala ayurveda weight management

If you’re grappling with weight management, you’re not alone. More than 70% of Americans are overweight and the pandemic only made matters worse with stress, comfort eating, a topsy-turvy, sedentary lifestyle, and less sleep. Weight-loss diets, fads and misinformation abound amid an obesity epidemic with worrying health consequences like hypertension, type-2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and certain types of cancer. Do take heart though, even modest changes in lifestyle and weight management can provide immense health benefits.

Weight is not always an indicator of health. Some people naturally have a larger frame, others may not be able to afford healthy food, or someone may have an ailment or be on medication that causes weight gain. Weight discrimination can cause disordered eating, low self-esteem, and reduced life expectancy. Ayurveda addresses overall wellness and community health concerns for personalization in weight management.

Weight Loss with Ayurveda

The Ayurvedic concept of weight management

We all have different constitutions according to Ayurveda (read more here). If Vata Dosha dominates, people tend to be naturally petite, Kapha makes one well-built and Pitta is somewhere in between. Well-nourished muscle and fat tissues result from a nourishing diet, adequate sleep, regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle, and alignment with natural rhythms. Weight is not just a simple calorie calculation of how much we eat and how much we exercise, digestion and metabolism are key. Some imbalances can cause weight gain. The Ayurvedic approach to weight management involves addressing the root cause over symptomatic and short-term relief (read more in our previous blog post).

Obesity is called Sthoulya or Medoroga and is considered one of the eight major imbalances in the Charaka Samhita, caused by Santarpanotta or over nourishment. Obesity could be caused by any of these factors; irregular digestion, slower metabolism, Ama build-up (toxins), Kapha-increasing food, alcohol consumption, inadequate exercise, daytime sleep, genetics, stress, or other psychosocial factors. All Doshas can be out of balance.

Fat tissue (Medas Dhatu) isn’t metabolized properly, accumulates and successive tissues aren’t well nourished. Ama obstructs Vata in the alimentary canal which fans digestive fire and hunger, triggers overeating, and leads to a vicious cycle. In Ayurveda, winter is Kapha season, digestive or metabolic fire (Agni) is high, and we need to take greater care to avoid weight gain and plan ahead mindfully!

Weight management: misconceptions and myths according to Ayurveda

There is one approach to weight loss that works for everyone

According to Ayurveda there is no one size fits all approach to weight loss. Ayurveda is individualized and addresses the root cause of disease. It assesses imbalances and arrives at a comprehensive protocol. For someone with osteoarthritis, an eating disorder, or a post-menopausal person, the weight management approach is completely different. Knowledge of one’s constitution is empowering and helps one live mindfully to manage weight. For instance, Kapha people tend to be well-built and can focus on being active and accepting themselves.

Often people ask if any one Dosha is responsible for weight loss. When all Doshas and digestion (Agni) are in balance, the tissues are nourished, elimination is regular and the mind is pleasant, we are healthy. Finding that individual balance is responsible for proper weight management, not one specific dosha.

Weight Loss with Ayurveda

Weight management is all about food

False. Eating habits are just a part of weight management. Weight management also includes aligning with nature, following circadian and seasonal rhythms, having adequate, timely sleeping habits, and exercising regularly. When you eat is more important than what or how much. Ayurveda has guidelines for personalized eating based on the six tastes. There isn’t a judgment like “carbs are bad, or fat is a no-no” (read more here). Altering family and community health goals, meal planning, sitting down to eat, eating together, outdoor time, and a less sedentary lifestyle can bring balance.

Eating certain types of food aids weight management

Low carb, high protein, low fat — all these restrictions and regulations can boggle the mind. Every individual needs to address their unique needs. For weight loss, Ayurveda recommends avoiding junk, cold, raw, processed, and incompatible food. Additionally, you should avoid white flour and sugar, reduce alcohol, desserts, fried food, yogurt, and fatty meats. Instead, Ayurveda suggests favoring cooked vegetables, mung beans, barley or aged rice, corn, digestive spices, and warm water.

Sipping hot water - ayurveda weight loss

Drinking water can help with weight loss

This is true and false! The key is to drink water appropriately. Drinking warm water in the morning and sipping water throughout the day are recommended. Too much water can douse the digestive fire (Agni) and drinking water after meals can cause weight gain. Water should be sipped throughout meals and avoided half an hour before and after the meal.

Weight loss can be achieved through rigorous exercise

Exercise is important, but as with food, it’s not the end-all-be-all. It also must be tailored to each individual based on their dosha or imbalances. Daily exercise is recommended in Ayurveda as part of Dinacharya (daily regimen). Exercise has a myriad of health benefits and helps stave off obesity and chronic disorders. Preliminary studies in integrating Ayurveda with Yoga for weight loss are promising. Ayurveda advocates balance. Extreme exercise can cause injuries and aggravate Vata. For example, a Vata person may need breaks, strengthening, nature walks, and moderation, while a Pitta person would need to tone down competitiveness.

Eating less and moving more helps weight loss

Weight management must be approached comprehensively. Eating less and moving more can help a healthy person with temporary weight gain, but not extreme or chronic cases. The quality of digestion, metabolism, and psychosocial factors also need to be addressed.

Weight management is about willpower

This is like asking someone with anxiety to just relax! Ayurveda recognizes the complex physiological and psychosocial factors involved in weight gain and addresses weight management holistically.

Stress and weight gain Ayurveda

Stress is related to weight management

This is not a myth! Stress can cause weight gain. The body goes into a fight or flight mode, cortisol levels (linked with weight gain) increase, and it stores simple carbs, sugar, and fats to be metabolized in the crisis. People may eat well and exercise but gain weight anyway if they are stressed. Techniques like yoga, breathwork, and meditation aid stress management.

Losing weight quickly is motivating and lends to lasting results

Weight loss should be monitored. Quick rewards can come with associated risks and may not be sustained!  Long-term, comprehensive solutions are recommended. Habits change in one lunar cycle and enlisting community support can hasten the process.

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Weight management: frequently asked questions and what Ayurveda says

Where does one lose weight first?

It depends. If you have a Vata imbalance, you may carry weight below the umbilicus and lose weight there as Vata gets balanced. Targeted exercises can help lose weight and add tone to a particular part of the body.

Do weight loss supplements help?

Weight loss supplements don’t work in the long run and can do more harm than good. Ayurveda does not recommend formulations to be taken as supplements. For instance, taking Triphala as a laxative long-term can cause Vata imbalances. And while some formulations are recommended for weight loss, they don’t suit everyone and should be part of an overall weight management protocol.

Will cleansing help me lose weight?

Cleansing can contribute to weight loss, but weight loss is not the sole goal of cleansing. Seasonal cleansing is recommended for overall health and longer term weight management. Our Wellness Center offers an annual Personalized Spring Cleanse.

We recommend working with an Ayurvedic professional to cleanse safely. You can learn more here about the pros and cons of cleansing.

Honey lemon tea Ayurveda

Will honey help me lose weight?

Honey is reductive. If it isn’t contraindicated, a glass of warm water with honey and lemon (if tolerated well) in the morning can help with weight loss (in conjunction with lifestyle changes).

Does triphala reduce belly fat?

Triphala must be used in a therapeutic context with an assessment of why there is an extra amount of belly fat. It helps balance Pitta-Kapha, bloating, and constipation, is a powerful anti-inflammatory. There are studies linking it with weight management. 

What’s the strongest weight loss herb in Ayurveda?

It depends! Generally scraping, heating and sharp (lekhana, ushna and teekshna) herbs like triphala guggulu, triphala, trikatu, garcinia, black cumin, ginger, pepper, turmeric, garlic, lemon, cinnamon, fenugreek or cinnamon could aid weight loss but as part of personalized recommendations. For instance, garlic is contraindicated for someone with a pitta imbalance like hyperacidity.

Do popular weight loss diets and fads help?

With 45 million Americans going on a diet every year, multiple studies show that weight loss fad diets rarely work.  One study showed 85 % of dieters who lose weight gain it back within a year. Fads can be outright dangerous and weight-loss diets need a comprehensive and individualized approach to be sustainable.

Ayurveda health consultation for weight loss

Can an Ayurvedic consultation help?

Yes. Weight loss is a therapeutic intervention in Ayurveda. The protocol involves Shamana (dietary, lifestyle modifications, and herbal supplements) and Shodhana (cleansing therapies like Udvartana, Lekhana Basti or a full Panchakarma). Read more about what happens in an Ayurvedic consultation.

Is Panchakarma a good way to lose weight?

A Panchakarma (or seasonal cleanse) can lead to weight loss and is considered an effective, non-invasive therapy for obesity. Check with an Ayurvedic professional to determine if panchakarma is the right protocol for you.

How can I permanently lose weight?

Through long-term, sustainable changes. Weight management also involves addressing allied imbalances that may be causing weight gain in the first place.

Kerala Ayurveda golden lotus logo

The three pillars of health, (sleep, nutrition, and a balanced lifestyle), are the comprehensive approach to Ayurvedic weight management. This approach is not a one-size-fits-all but instead takes into consideration the individual’s body constitution and imbalances. Life and weight management are a journey of knowing, accepting, and valuing ourselves while working towards the goal of getting healthier in mind, body and spirit!

How to clear brain fog and heighten your senses

Low Angle View Of Trees Against Foggy Sky

Are you feeling spaced out, forgetful, confused, and unable to focus? Finding it difficult to sleep and getting headaches? You could be experiencing “brain fog.” A foggy head is a set of imbalances that result when you’re recovering from an infection, have a chronic ailment, have jet lag, haven’t slept enough, or are just generally stressed and anxious. 

Holistic approaches are helpful in dealing with brain fog symptoms by addressing their root cause. Is lifestyle a factor? Is it dietary? Related to an illness? Hormonal issues? Anxiety? A stressful life event? A comprehensive assessment of the mind-body system is needed. A foggy head causes neurological, psychological, and emotional challenges. It can impact family and work life and be debilitating as well as frustrating. In Ayurveda, brain fog symptoms are taken seriously to assess underlying imbalances. After all, Ayurveda is about prevention, disease management, and living life to your fullest potential. This can be hard to do when you’re contending with heaviness, demotivation, and fatigue.

Ayurvedic view of brain fog causes

Internal (Nija) factors or external (Agantuja) factors like epidemics or war can aggravate Doshas or energy principals and the Gunas (pertaining to mental health, read more here). Vata Dosha imbalance or Ama (toxins) are often causes of brain fog, but that only skims the surface. A personalized assessment is required to establish each of the individual contributing factors.

General causes of disease

Ayurveda cites three causes of disease, and any could impact cognition and lead to symptoms of a foggy head. 
  • Misuse of the intellect (Prajnaparadha) – e.g. binge-watching shows until late in the night
  • Misuse of the senses (Asatmendriyartha samyoga) – like too much screen time and sensory overload.
  • Seasonal and time variations (Kala or parinama) – such as degenerative changes to the brain with aging (which can be eased by measures like exercise and doing puzzles).

Imbalance in the Vata dosha

What is Vata?

It is the subtle energy of movement in your mind-body system. It’s composed of air and ether elements. A Vata imbalance can cause a lack of focus, anxiety, fatigue, memory issues, and problems with sleep. 

Vata imbalances 

Prevention (Niana parivarjana) is the best management! Vata goes out of balance with an irregular routine, cold, dry food, not enough hydration, sleeping late or too little, cold exposure, controlling natural urges, too much media exposure, and overdoing things. Fall and early winter are Vata seasons in the U.S. Older age is the Vata stage of life, when people are prone to imbalances like brain fog and anxiety. You can learn more about balancing Vata here.

Other imbalances contributing to brain fog

  • Vata-Pitta imbalance: Any Dosha imbalance can cause depletion, degeneration, and exhaustion, but Vata and Pitta are particularly implicated. A Vata-Pitta imbalance is like a forest fire, causing burnout and leading to a foggy brain. A Rajasic state of mind with feverishness and restlessness has a similar impact.
  • Toxins and blockages: Obstruction of Srotas or channels through toxins (Ama), Kapha Dosha, or any Dosha imbalance can cause brain fog symptoms. As could a lethargic and Tamasic state of mind.
  • Poor digestion: weak Agni can lead to nutrient malabsorption and toxin production (Ama). Both could contribute to a foggy mind.
Person holding candle burning at both ends, close up

Eight tips to clear brain fog holistically with Ayurveda 

1. Sleep

Sleep is one of the three pillars of health in Ayurveda. All activities are degenerating, and sleep nourishes a foggy brain. Try to sleep before 10 pm and get eight hours of solid sleep. Do follow a routine through good Ratricharya (nightly regimen) practices (slowing and winding down, not eating late, and if it suits you, having a warm glass of turmeric milk). 

Turmeric milk recipe: Boil a glass of milk with ½ tsp turmeric and a pinch of black pepper. Add saffron, cardamom, and grated fresh ginger! Enjoy this soothing drink!

2. Nutrition

Eat a warm, unctuous diet with plenty of fruits and cooked vegetables.  Hydrate properly and avoid overeating, fried and processed foods, white sugar, and white flour. Incorporate spices that support digestion, like ginger, cumin, coriander, and fennel. Sip warm CCF tea throughout the day. And consume Ayurvedically balanced meals.

CCF tea recipe: In six glasses of water, add 1 tsp each of cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds and boil for 15-20 min. Strain and enjoy.

3. Yoga, pranayama, meditation and exercise

Yoga, pranayama, and meditation are effective tools for increasing Sattva (the light, clear quality of the mind), improving focus, memory, and cognition, enhancing a sense of well-being, and sharpening the senses. One size doesn’t fit all in a yoga practice (read more about individualizing Yoga here). Alternate Nostril breathing is Vata balancing, Kapal Bhati can help with Kapha, and slower, abdominal breathing with Vata-Pitta brain fog symptoms. 

Exercise or Vyayam is recommended as part of Dinacharya or a daily regimen in Ayurveda. It enhances Agni and improves circulation and clarity of mind.

4. Avoid sensory overload

In today’s society, our brain never catches a break! Try periodic social media fasts, silence, less screen time, aromatherapy, spending time in nature, and practicing Pratyahara (sensory withdrawal). Anything you do to give your sensory organs a rest sharpens them and clears a foggy brain.

Man sitting on edge of dock with feet in water

5. A daily and seasonal approach

Ayurveda encourages aligning with nature and natural rhythms. Following healthy Dinacharya practices and routines regulate Doshas. The same healthy meal is digested better at noon when the digestive fire is high, than late at night. Similarly, different seasons have a different dominating Dosha. Balancing that dominating dosha helps prevent imbalances like brain fog symptoms in fall and early winter, Vata seasons.

6. Community support

A foggy head can cause you to slow down and withdraw with a sense of ineptitude. Ayurveda is an empowering journey of self-discovery to maintain health. It also advocates we rely on community and our connection with nature. Reach out to people and do things you enjoy.

7. Herbal recommendations

An Ayurvedic Practitioner individualizes herbs and formulations based on the imbalance that a Rogi experiences. Brain fog causes the mind channel (Manovaha Srotas) to be impacted. Medhya Rasayanas (brain tonics or adaptogens) like Brahmi, Guduchi, Ashwagandha, or Yashtimadhu may be recommended.

8. Periodic cleansing

Seasonal transitions can cause brain fog. Ayurveda recommends periodic cleansing (best done in fall or spring) to clear imbalances and ensure the deep-seated ones don’t recur. Cleansing or shodhana is powerful and therapeutic. It can be customized to include personalized therapies, a Panchakarma or a seasonal cleanse.

Ayurveda can help you with the prevention and management of brain fog and an Ayurvedic consultation is a good place to start. (Find out what happens in an Ayurvedic consultation here).  Visit our wellness center or website to find an Ayurvedic professional near you.

Reaching the Hispanic community with Ayurveda: interview with Amalia Arango | Representation Matters

Photo of Amalia Arango in a blue shirt standing in front of trees with pink flowers
Hispanic Heritage Month is honored mid September through mid October to promote the contributions, culture and history of Hispanic-Americans. We celebrate our Hispanic students and wish to shed some light on their experience. We interviewed Amalia Arango, Ayurvedic Counselor graduate, who practices in Bogotá, Colombia and will be studying the Ayurvedic Practitioner Program next. Amalia’s goal is to introduce Ayurveda in the Hispanic community, bringing health and wellness to all.
In the U.S., Hispanic-Americans are the largest ethnic minority group, but have disproportionately low health insurance coverage. Their healthcare is shaped by language and cultural barriers, as well as lack of access to preventive care. According to the CDC, the leading causes of illness and death within the community include heart disease, cancer, accidents, stroke, diabetes, asthma, obesity, suicide and liver disease. Latin Americans have relied for centuries on plant-based medicine, mysticism, spiritual rituals and home remedies, like onions for sore throats and honey for cold sores! Ayurveda, as a form of preventive medicine, can help given the use of CAM (Complementary and Alternative therapies) is 50-90 % higher within the population.
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Tell us about your career path

How did you discover Ayurveda?

The first time I heard the word Ayurveda was five years ago when I read it in a book. A friend of mine had been diagnosed with MS and I got really interested about the different ways in which she could cure herself. I found out about a woman in Colombia who had also been diagnosed with MS. She wrote about her disease journey, and how through Ayurveda, she found a lot of helpful tools to manage the disease. As soon as I finished reading the book, I gave it to my friend. From that day onwards, I began to research more about it and fell in love with this science.

I couldn’t believe that all the information I found was almost everything from the KAA website, the place in which I would be studying five years later. This was such an incredible coincidence! As I started to read more and more about Ayurveda, I thought this was exactly how healthcare should be for me. Natural, holistic and people oriented. I knew there was something special with Ayurveda for me. But wasn’t sure if the decision was to turn my professional career all over, or just keep it as a side interest.

My main career is Business Administration. I did a specialization in Marketing Management and worked for eight years in Marketing and Retail. I am also very passionate about the environment, so recently I completed a Masters in Sustainability thinking that this would be my career switch (but it wasn’t). When I decided to move ahead with Ayurveda, I was a little sad because I thought I was not going to be able to put my sustainability studies into practice. But while studying, I was delighted to hear Dr. J [Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath] talking about sustainability,  the organic farms in Kerala and the importance of taking care of the environment to take care of ourselves as well. Knowing that, made a lot of sense to me and made me realize the reason by which I got interested in sustainability as well. 

Photo of Amalia Arango smiling sitting on a rock next to a light blue river

When you first studied Ayurveda, what resonated with you?

I have always been very passionate about nutrition and food, so the first thing that resonated with me from Ayurveda was the phrase ‘let your food be your medicine.’ I believe that is the key. Also, I am very curious about the mind and its potential, so mental health is another topic that resonates with me very hard. And I can not leave aside kids. I love them and love their intuition that little by little is lost as we grow up. So in the future, I would definitely love to work with them and encourage them to maintain that natural instinct that we all have for the food and lifestyle that balances ourselves.

What was your earlier experience with health and wellness? 

As I mentioned earlier, I am very passionate about food, and mindful about what I eat because I know the way you eat influences a lot the way you feel. Interestingly, five years ago I experienced very intense stomach aches. I didn’t pay too much attention to this, thinking that I was the kind of person who had a sensitive stomach and had to live with it. Several months passed, but magically one day, I realized the pain was not normal and I didn’t want to live like that. I scheduled an appointment with an acupuncturist and TCM doctor who told me I had an inflammation in my colon, stomach and my liver was highly intoxicated. This was kind of a surprise for me, because I thought I was very healthy. since I was eating a lot of salads and I exercised almost every day.

Looking back I can see that despite being mindful about what I ate, it was very restrictive. I was eating inappropriate foods for my body, exercising way too much and not sleeping enough. My focus was mainly on the way I looked rather than on the way I felt. The kind of ‘healthy’ I thought I was, was not contributing to my overall wellbeing, also because I was not taking into account a crucial part: my mental health. Thankfully I addressed this stomach issue on time, because I don’t know what would have happened if I kept thinking that the stomach ache was normal. (There is no one single pain or ache which we can consider as normal.) And that was when I realized the huge importance and magic of prevention. 

Discovering Ayurveda and understanding that to achieve balance, I should walk through the middle path was mind blowing for me. I thought that discipline was the key, but later I understood that discipline needs to take into account how the body feels and what the body needs, and that enjoying the good things in life was much more important than the other things I was doing. I learned that extremes are never good and pursuing the middle path was the most important lesson given to me for life.

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Practicing Ayurveda in Colombia

Traditional medicine and Ayurvedic practice

Colombia has its traditional healing with plant-based folk medicine, home remedies and rituals. People used food as medicine, but through the generations, traditional medicine was lost and western medicine is now the most popular. Indigenous people still practice but mostly within their community. They are in remote places and the practice is not common or easy for people to seek them out. In daily use, leaves or spices are used for cooking but not healing. Once in a while someone may drink herbal preparations for digestion, allergies, cough or flu, but it’s mild and infrequent. 

Ayurveda is recognized as an alternative form of medicine like TCM. It is not restricted or illegal (in Colombia) and is easy to practice.

How do you culturally translate the practice of Ayurveda?

All my consultations and seminars are in Spanish. I try to use simple language so people are not intimidated.  I also talk about common and local foods so that people can easily relate.

There are a lot of ‘modern issues’ related to sleep, digestion, and so much misinformation related to food. People are not very certain about what to do, they have many theories. Also, especially in Latin America and Colombia, women are very focused on how they look and body image is a big issue with rogis [clients]. The culture and media increase this pressure; it’s incredible. I didn’t know I would deal with this issue until I started consulting. No matter what the natural body constitution looks like, how light or heavy the person is, most of us (I am also working on it) are concerned about body image and are always seeking for a model-like body, which is, of course, very frustrating and exhausting. It makes me wonder how we are wired.  I’m very concerned about this, so I’m trying to give a message of health from the inside out; feel better first and then you will have the outcome without effort.

This is a very unequal country. Some people are conscious about health and have access to good quality food, economic facilities, regular exercise and healthy options. On the other side, there is malnutrition, poverty, diseases and that concerns me a lot. I want to provide simple, easy to apply education about healthcare and spread it to all kinds of people regardless of their economic capacity. 

We can educate people to de-stress, sleep on time and have a better lifestyle. I try to communicate Ayurvedic principles in my talks so people change their perspectives. People think that well-being is complicated and expensive, so my message is: we don’t need expensive foods and imported goods and supplements or complicated calculations to eat; we can eat local, fresh food, cultivated close to our house and very intuitively.

The agricultural industry is an important part of the economy. Since we have great weather, we can access a huge variety of fruits, vegetables and spices. Depending on the city, exotic or traditional fruits grow, like watermelon, papaya, bananas, guanabana, guava, lulo, tangerine and apples. I love to buy my fruits, veggies and spices from small local farmers who deliver them  to my house. 

Eventually, I want to have a partnership with NGOs (non-government organizations) and the government to communicate basic Ayurvedic principles, so despite the inequity, people can apply it and improve their health and quality of life.

Amala Arango Ayurvedic Practitioner makes healthy meals

Amalia’s Ayurvedic practice

Tell us about your practice

I started my practice in April 2022. People are very receptive and surprised by the new things they learn about Ayurveda and themselves as well. They find Ayurveda easy to understand and it makes a lot of sense with natural, holistic concepts. I have been practicing in Spanish, online and in person, both from my home. My rogis [clients] are from Colombia and they’re all Spanish speakers, so I translate all the information I learn in English.

In my consultations, I noticed that people understand Ayurveda, but the difficulty is in changing and implementing the habits. So I schedule one or several follow up consultations to support them and meet them where they are.

Since we are a coffee producing country, most of us are used to drinking coffee even since childhood. Of course when I see there is an issue where coffee might be aggravating, I suggest to reduce it. (Some people can drink up to eight cups per day!). For some people, it’s very difficult to change the habit. Others say they were just drinking coffee because they didn’t know it was harmful for them, so they can easily make the correction.

How do you plan to grow and market your practice?

I have started my business little by little and am doing it from my house. Eventually, I plan to make this economically sustainable and reach more people with the complementary practice of Ayurvedic Practitioner disease management. I experienced my own first Abhyanga [external therapy with oil] recently and realized how important bodywork is as well, so I would love to study and practice Panchakarma, and the Ayurvedic Doctor program eventually.

Ninety percent of my clients are family, friends or very close people. I share some of my daily recommendations through social media and word of mouth helps a lot. People reach out through Instagram or Whatsapp because they know I’m practicing or people recommend me.

When I ask them whether they know anything about Ayurveda, 80% don’t and I have to educate them. When I told my parents, I had to explain the basics and do a consultation with my father because he had never heard about it before. It really helped to explain what I was doing now.

I’m doing in person seminars for free in social clubs. I have done two. One in Bogotá and another one recently in Medellín. I am also giving online wellness talks to companies. I love it because this educates people about Ayurveda, helps networking, and contributes to my main goal which is to share Ayurveda and wellbeing with millions of people.

Amalia Arango giving an Ayurvedic presentation to the Hispanic community in spanish

What are the barriers to growth for you? 

Language is one. The fact that I have to translate everything to Spanish from English makes it challenging and difficult for others who may not know English to know more about Ayurveda. Travel is also a barrier. Milpitas is ten to twelve hours and 1-2 flight stops away from Colombia for in person requirements. So it is very time consuming. Cost of travel is another one, because I have to pay in dollars and make the conversion from Colombian Pesos (a highly devaluated currency) for the flight and travel expenses, as well as the academic tuition. Availability of herbs for consultations or bodywork are another barrier. Only common, popular ones are available. I may need to import them and investigate regulations and duties. Even though I don’t feel excluded and feel very privileged about being able to study this amazing science, I think that the in person requirements are not convenient enough for an international student in Latin America.

What are your future plans?

The health and wellness industry has grown in the last few years and became popular in Colombia. I would like to have my own center with consultations and a massage space for PK [Panchakarma] treatments and bodywork therapies. These will complement each other very well and would be like a wellness center. You can see (laughs) that I like a lot of things and am enthusiastic about Ayurvedic nutrition, mental health, working with kids, studying the PK Technician class, pursuing the Ayurvedic Doctor program, and will have to decide later in the path how things go. I have really enjoyed the fact that I could start to practice Ayurveda while studying. It is very enriching since it helps understanding and applying different concepts in the meanwhile.

Kerala Ayurveda golden lotus logo

Growing Ayurveda in the Hispanic community

How do you recommend we encourage study and practice of Ayurveda within the Hispanic community?

  1. Currently, I don’t think there are enough Hispanic people in Ayurveda. I know only about 3-4 people who are practicing in Colombia and Ayurveda is not well known. There is an academy, but I preferred Kerala Ayurveda’s content, curriculum and methodology.
  2. Address the language barrier. The KAA website is completely in English. It would be good to have more content in Spanish online and translate concepts. Translations even of basic qualifications like Counselor or Practitioner are not precise.
  3. Address geography while translating seasonal practices. In the northern part of South America there are no seasons, so there aren’t any seasonal practices in terms of transitions. Here, we can indicate a certain type of Desha (geography) and what regimen to follow, (for instance dry places are Vata aggravating). 
  4. Travel to California is a barrier for Hispanic people outside the U.S. It would be good to have internship options in an allied center in Colombia. 
  5. We could have a network of Hispanic Ayurvedic professionals to share experiences and provide mentoring.

How can we encourage the Hispanic population to seek Ayurvedic care?

People are more likely to seek Hispanic professionals. We need to understand barriers of equity, language and that people have misunderstandings about healthcare. Educating people about Ayurveda will help. We don’t need to normalize indigestion, stress and anger. Ayurveda helps us know ourselves. We need to educate people about prevention and the importance of following nature. 

 

KAA is grateful for students like Amalia who study with us from remote areas of the globe and are torchbearers of Ayurveda. We hope Ayurveda plays a role in healing and eliminating healthcare disparities which impact quality of life, longevity, economic opportunities and healthcare access for the Hispanic community.

Kerala Ayurveda golden lotus logo
Amalia Arango Ayurvedic Practitioner in Colombia
CONNECT WITH AMALIA

Follow Amalia on Instagram @amaliaarangoc.

Ayurvedic principles for lasting beauty

Ayurveda defines the three pillars of beauty, and the secret to beauty is mastering these three pillars. They are outer beauty (roopam), inner beauty (gunam), and the beauty that lasts (vayastyag). Outer beauty is personified by radiance, energy, and immunity; inner beauty by a pure, clear, and calm mind; and everlasting beauty by the feeling that age is only a number. Ayurveda’s approach to beautiful skin doesn’t rely on products or treatments for temporary results, but instead focuses on habits to maintain these pillars.

 

In this article, we’ll introduce you to Ayurvedic beauty as an aspect of the Vedic lifestyle, starting with an overview of Ayuveda’s Skin Care Theory, and then moving on to specific diet and lifestyle practices for generating beauty from within.

 

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest forms of holistic medicine, developed thousands of years ago by ancient scientists who observed and learned the healing powers of nature. Ayurveda sees each individual as the healer and guides everyone toward a state of health and wellbeing by suggesting a unique path formed by diet and lifestyle behaviors. There is no “one size fits all” approach in Ayurveda. Nature created a “unique,” balanced you, and if you follow her laws, health and beauty are sure to follow!

Ayurveda skin care theory

Ayurveda takes a two-prong approach to mindfully managing and reversing both the effects of time and external factors on the skin. The approach is holistic (body, mind, and spirit) in nature, and consists of a number of diet and lifestyle recommendations.

Feeding beauty from within – the Inputs (Ahara)

Skin is nourished from the inside out through the concept of Ahara which includes intake of food, water, breath, and perceptions.

Food

Food feeds skin from within with appropriate foods such as cooked, leafy greens and fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. Rich in natural antioxidants, these help protect the skin (twak) from damage by free radicals, reactive oxygen-based chemicals, which are widely linked to disease and aging.

Water

Drinking plenty of water helps maintain skin’s elasticity and flushes out impurities while helping to minimize wrinkles and soft lines. Water should be warm and sipped continuously throughout the day for optimal hydration and plumpness of skin.

Breath

The practice of pranayama or breathing techniques, such as Alternate Nostril Breath, helps calm the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce stress which causes chemical reactions in the body making skin more reactive and sensitive.

Perceptions

Spending time in nature and/or meditation brings deep relaxation and a heightened state of awareness allowing you to be mindful of stressors and make adjustments to avoid bodily reactions manifesting on the skin.

 

Rear view of woman applying oil to body in darkroom at home

Live life beautifully through your actions (Vihara)

Vihara are the activities that influence your daily lifestyle and include proper exercise, adequate sleep, and components of your daily routine like washing your face and abhyanga or Ayurvedic massage. 

Proper exercise 

In moderation, exercise increases circulation, improves metabolism, releases toxins and impurities and keeps the skin soft, supple, and clear. It also helps to firm the skin and keep the body toned while strengthening the dhatus or deeper tissues.  Healthy tissues provide bountiful Ojas which gives the skin a healthy glow.

Sleep

Sleep is the time when your body repairs itself. During sleep, your skin’s blood flow increases, and collagen production is initiated to help repair sun damage, wrinkles, and age spots. Ideally, you should sleep and rise with the cycles of the sun, resulting in the optimal 7-8 hours of sleep needed each day.  

Daily routine 

Begin each morning by washing your face to remove secretions produced during the night. Next, a full-body massage (abhyanga), with an oil suitable for your skin type, to increase circulation, flush out toxins, and keep the skin looking soft, smooth, and supple.  

Determining the proper components and amounts of Ahara and Vihara for your specific body and skin type is dependent on your body composition (prakriti). To learn more about your body constitution, check out our blog article, Ten Ways Knowing Your Individual Constitution or Prakriti Can Empower You.  

 

Study Ayurvedic beauty with us!

True beauty begins within and the secret to finding it is simply making a few adjustments to your diet and daily lifestyle. Would you like to learn more about Ayurveda’s approach to beautiful skin and hair? Join us for our 2-day workshop on Ayurvedic Skin and Beauty, June 24-25, 2023. Click here to learn more and register for the workshop.

Pulse assessment as a diagnostic tool

An ayurvedic therapist is checking the pulse of young woman during consultation at home.
“Pulse resides on the fingertips of the Vaidya, not on the radial artery of the client – and Ayurvedic Professionals live on their fingertips!” says Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath, Kerala Ayurveda Academy Director and Lead Faculty teaching Pulse Assessment.

What is pulse assessment?

Pulse Assessment in Ayurveda and TCM (commonly used in Acupuncture) is a major diagnostic technique. Similar to Western medicine – listening to the heartbeat with a stethoscope and checking pulse – it serves as a quick, non-invasive assessment method used by trained health care professionals. 

For thousands of years, multiple levels of the pulse or Nadi have been used in Ayurveda. Pulse assessment holistically interprets the individual’s constitution, imbalances, and mental/physical health. Ancient texts like Sharangdhar Samhita mention pulse analysis, while Yogaratnakar provides a detailed description of this science carried forward as part of the traditional lineage of Ayurveda. Emphasis of pulse assessment varies amongst practitioners and schools of thought may vary.  

Some Ayurvedic Doctors (or Vaidyas) may focus mainly on the pulse examination; but at Kerala Ayurveda Academy, we educate our students to use pulse as one of many assessment tools

We receive lots of questions from prospective students about pulse assessment training. Here are the top Q&As to help you understand what it is and what it’s not. We also share how you might be able to use it in your Ayurvedic practice.

Kerala Ayurveda golden lotus logo

How is pulse assessment practiced?

Sitting across from Vaidya. Sheena, the student, closes her eyes. At a class practical, she’s gone through a health intake and is now having her pulse assessed. Vaidya. Sheen listens to the pulse and begins to tell its story: the student has a tendency to be over productive and burn out. To be more specific, she will follow up over productivity by sitting around like a couch potato, and even more specifically, binge watch shows. Vaidya. Sheena also confirms her irritable bowel symptoms to round off this assessment. 

Much is revealed during pulse assessment

The vibration of the radial artery can reveal seven layers downwards to ascertain health, disorders and even their prognosis.

The other layers reveal:

  • Imbalances (Vikrati) 
  • Balance of the Subdoshas
  • Metabolic fire strength (Agni)
  • Toxicity levels (Ama)
  • Status of organ systems and tissues (Dhatus)
  • The deep pulse indicates Prakriti (body constitution).

The Ayurvedic professional is trained to hold the client’s hand and feel for the pulse with their index, middle and ring fingers. Each respective finger feeling for the Vata (snake), Pitta (frog) and Kapha (swan) pulse, dubbed as such because of their characteristic rhythms. 

When to take the pulse

Pulse is often assessed following the health intake during a routine assessment as the client is usually more relaxed at that time. The pulse often confirms findings and may provide additional subtle insights for the Vaidya. Some Vaidyas primarily use the pulse, others may not, depending on their approach, experience and paucity of time.

Side view of swan swimming in lake

Can a pulse assessment provide all the information needed in an Ayurvedic exam?

Vivan is a quiet teenager. He sits with his Mom across from the Vaidya for a consultation (read more about what happens in an Ayurvedic consultation on our Wellness site). It feels like he’s relating the story of his life: his daily routines, diet and lifestyle, bowel habits, ailments, and his genetic, physical, physiological, psychological and social history. He sticks out his tongue, shows his nails, and bursts into laughter as the Vaidya takes his pulse (he’s ticklish!). 

Ayurveda examines the entire person, rather than piecemeal symptoms. It assesses the root cause of disorder and disease.

Types of assessment

When you could go to an Ayurvedic professional with IBS or knee pain, for example, there is a standardized 3-step assessment including questioning, observation and touch – which includes pulse. Another type of assessment is the eightfold method, which looks at attributes like pulse. tongue, eyes, skin etc. A ten step examination also includes constitution evaluation, imbalances, age, physical strength and more.

All of these assessment methods and steps help a practitioner to understand the client’s total state of health. A thorough case analysis leads to a comprehensive protocol with dietary and lifestyle guidelines, formulations, suggestions for pacification or cleansing as needed and follow-ups.  

Limitations of pulse assessment

While pulse assessment can technically provide all the information needed to assess an individual’s constitution and imbalance, relying on pulse alone is not necessary. There are some scenarios when taking a pulse is not viable. For example: virtual consultations, in areas where an individual is not legally able to touch their client (this varies based on state in the U.S.), and in special circumstances such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic. There are also times when pulse assessment is not recommended, such as right after a meal. That’s why it’s important to utilize all the assessment tools available, including detailed case history review and examination of the client’s eyes, nails and tongue. 

Kerala Ayurveda golden lotus logo

What are the advantages of pulse diagnosis?

Pulse is the rhythmical movement of blood as it is propelled through the arteries by the heart.  Measuring the pulse provides important information about your current health status and possible future health problems.  Pulse diagnosis is beneficial as it:

  • Is non-invasive and can indicate disorders without the use of x-rays, endoscopies and other diagnostic tests 
  • Helps assess digestive, metabolic strength and immune resistance
  • Is a quick and subtle way to assess imbalances when there is paucity of time
  • Is holistic in nature, factoring in both mental and physical health 
  • Provides insights when a physical assessment doesn’t help and a subtle one can indicate certain imbalances
  • Provides clues on what further diagnostics may be required 
  • Predicts future disorders and can provide guidance on how to prevent them
  • Indicates the prognosis of disorders; simple, chronic and/or incurable 
  • Exposes causative factors of a disease, helping map the cause to a management protocol
Photo of students learning how to take their pulse

Want to learn more about Ayurvedic assessment and pulse diagnosis?

“To be able to tell a person’s health from their pulse is a skill, an art and a science; it is a privilege to study this from a Master Vaidya such as Jayarajan Kodikannath.” – Anuradha Gupta

The key to mastering pulse assessment is study, practice, practice and more practice. And that’s what you’ll do in our Ayurvedic Assessment and Pulse Diagnosis Workshop! In an action packed three days, we delve into Ayurvedic assessment, narrow in on pulse diagnosis and engage in live cases to understand the complete mapping of disease.  

Learn more about our Ayurvedic Assessment & Pulse Diagnosis Workshop.

Traditional Ayurvedic cleansing 101

Herbal rose infusion and saffron with spices

Our bodies are constantly confronted with toxins, whether they come from our environment or our own natural cellular processes, which create metabolic waste from the digestion of our food. As these toxins accumulate in our various body tissues, subtle energy channels and mind, disease and imbalance result. An Ayurvedic cleanse is the solution to release toxins and restore the body to its natural state of health.

In today’s world, cleansing has taken on many forms, so you may wonder what exactly is an Ayurvedic cleanse, how does it work, what are its benefits and is it right for you. In this blog post we’ll cover many of the frequently asked questions surrounding a traditional Ayurvedic cleanse.

Top view of woman laying on bed in bad mood. Unhappy female at home alone.

How do I know an Ayurvedic cleanse is needed?

The following are a few of the signs and symptoms which can indicate that it’s time for a cleanse

  • You’ve gained weight and it’s not going away
  • You feel generally tired or fatigued
  • You don’t get a restful night’s sleep, insomnia, frequent and/or difficulty waking
  • You feel exhausted and/or have no energy
  • You are struggling with digestive difficulties 
  • Your bowel movements are inconsistent
  • Your mind feels fuzzy or you are experiencing lack of focus

When should I do an Ayurvedic cleanse?

Cleansing can be done at any time, but is especially beneficial at the junction between seasons, or Ritusandhi. During this transition time, the Doshas of the approaching season begin to accumulate so we must adapt our diet and lifestyle to prevent accumulation and aggravation, thus warding off potential disease.

How long does an Ayurvedic cleanse last?

Cleanse length may vary depending upon the conditions and circumstances surrounding each individual and can range from several days to weeks. Irrespective of the duration, all cleanses should dedicate an equal number of days to the preparation, active cleansing and restoration stages. At Kerala Ayurveda we offer supervised cleanses during the Fall and Spring season transitions.

indian lentil dhal with vegetables and basmati rice on the table. healthy vegan Ayurvedic cuisine

How does an Ayurvedic cleanse work?

Ayurvedic cleansing involves three distinct phases or stages. The preparation for the cleanse (Purvakarma), the actual cleanse (Pradhankarma) and the post cleansing rejuvenation (Rasayana). Each phase should be included, no matter the length of cleanse, as it helps to ease the body into and out of the cleanse and leave tissues in a nourished state.

Stage 1: Preparation (Purvakarma)

During Purvakarma, you’ll clean up your diet and modify your lifestyle in order to prepare for the active cleansing phase. Your diet will focus on consuming simple, whole, organic foods while eliminating fast and processed food, meat, refined sugar and sweets. Additionally, you’ll work to eliminate or significantly reduce alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. Digestive herbs and teas are also consumed during this phase to help support the elimination of toxins as well as increase your overall digestive strength.

The suggested diet is rich in nutrients but also easy on your digestive system, making it more efficient. As your digestion becomes more efficient, less energy is consumed. That energy can then be shifted to the elimination of toxins or ama during the next phase.

Dietary changes should also be accompanied by a more sattvic lifestyle bringing calm to the physical body as well as the mind. (Afterall, Ayurveda is a holistic science based on the balance of the body, mind and spirit). The goal being to minimize external stimuli (yes, an electronic cleanse as well), get plenty of rest and engage in daily pranayama, meditation and gentle yoga practice.

Stage 2: Active Cleanse (Pradhankarma)

The active phase of cleansing begins with Snehana or the oiling of the body both internally and externally. Oiling helps to lubricate the body’s channels and loosen the impurities in your body. Internal oleation is performed by consuming herbalized ghee, or clarified butter, and external oleation through self-Abhyanga or massage.

During this phase you’ll eat a nourishing, easy to digest, diet of mung dal and basmati rice, otherwise known as Khichadi, well-steamed vegetables and stewed fruits.

Once the body reaches optimal oleation, sudation begins. Sudation involves heating the body via a sauna, sweatbox, steam, hot bath and/or shower. The intention is to cause Swedana or sweating which pushes the loosened toxins into the digestive tract for elimination. A natural, herb-induced purgation (virechana) follows, removing the toxins.

Stage 3: Restoration (Rasayana)

While the active part of cleansing is complete, your system now needs to be rejuvenated before resuming your normal activities. During this stage you will slowly transition back with a simple, clean diet and gentle lifestyle while your system regains its strength. Nurturing and strengthening herbs may be recommended and massage, restorative yoga and massage help you complete the last phase of the cleanse.

Is Ayurvedic cleansing recommended for everyone?

Cleansing is not recommended during pregnancy/postpartum, nursing, weakened conditions following surgery, illness or trauma, for children under 13 years of age or the elderly.  Where there are any underlying health concerns or conditions, cleansing should only be done under the guidance of an Ayurvedic doctor or practitioner.

Before embarking on a cleanse, it’s very important to know and understand your body constitution (prakriti), imbalances (vikriti), and the state of your digestive fire (agni) and toxins (ama). Meeting with an Ayurvedic doctor or practitioner is recommended so that they may help you assess each of these components and customize the cleanse accordingly.

What should I expect while cleansing?

Cleansing is a time of self care and nurturing. A time to slow down, relax, recharge and restore your body. For many of us this means substantial shifts in our diets and lifestyles. As a result, during the cleanse you may feel less energetic, emotional, and at times physically uncomfortable as your body focuses its resources on both the physical and mental detoxification process. But not to worry, the best is to come as you complete your cleanse and find a renewed purity, clarity and lightness of body and mind.

What are the benefits of an Ayurvedic cleanse?

“The strength and complexion of the person, knowing the suitable diet and regimen for every season and practicing accordingly, are enhanced”. -Charaka Samhita

An Ayuvedic cleanse has many benefits that range from general improvement of health and immunity to alleviation of disease and disorders.  Cleansing detoxifies the body by removing ama (toxins), brings balance to the doshas and resets your digestive system to optimal operation. 

Ayurvedic cleansing can also help you to:

  • Calm the mind and nervous system by reducing mental/physical stress
  • Increase your energy levels
  • Find more balanced sleep cycles
  • Gain mental clarity and groundedness.
  • Reduce and/or maintain healthy body weight.
  • Restore regular and balanced elimination.
  • Prepare the tissues for deep nourishment and rejuvenation.
  • Promote optimal health

    Fall is a great time to prepare and protect your body and mind for the upcoming Vata season and the imbalances it will bring. Give yourself a little extra support and immunity boost by joining our Fall Rejuvenation. Let our Vaidya’s customize a traditional Ayurvedic cleanse just for you and provide you with support every step of the way.  Learn more about our Personalized Ayurvedic Fall Rejuvenation here.

New certification formats – from 100% online to NAMA-approved

Multiracial colleagues discussing on video call

We run our certification programs every spring and fall, and we continue to adapt them based on our students’ feedback, as well as to accommodate the latest requirements for accreditation. One of the challenges we encounter as an Ayurvedic school is to balance this spectrum of needs, as higher levels of requirements dictate certain restrictions on our program’s format, and impact the cost. We feel that our fall 2022 lineup is the best set of program options yet. Here’s why.

Industry standards – what, why and how

Kerala Academy team standing on the stage at NAMA conference

 

Alignment with National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA)

Our Academy aligns with the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), the largest Ayurvedic organization in the U.S., to provide industry standards. NAMA association by schools, and membership by professionals, are both optional. We opt into this alignment as we believe that standardization of the profession and licensure offers benefits to professionals as well as clients, making Ayurveda more accessible.

That said, it will take time for the industry to progress, and it’s not possible for all of the current prospective students to meet these requirements. Access to in person training is determined by proximity to an Ayurvedic school, or the time and financial resources to travel for potentially multiple stretches of time to visit a school. We do not wish to inhibit prospective students from completing our training programs, so we set an intention for our fall 2022 lineup to meet the needs of everyone.

2021 program requirement changes

We introduced online learning to Ayurvedic education in 2012. At that time, we knew this would make an Ayurvedic certification achievable for more students across the U.S. in regions without access to Ayurveda. Our motto was flexibility – all classes were live streamed and recorded, and hands-on training was available for those who were able to come in person. With minimum live class attendance, this flexible format met the requirements set forth by the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) for a level I Ayurvedic Health Counselor (AHC) program.

These requirements changed in 2021 to require a new minimum number of in person training and clinical encounters. For the level II Ayurvedic Practitioner program, in person training was already a requirement, though the number of hours increased in 2021. NAMA introduced these requirements to elevate the training benchmark, as part of an accreditation and licensure agenda. We support this agenda, and have modified our program to provide this benchmark. We also offer alternative formats that do not meet NAMA requirements, but offer students an opportunity to be certified.

Close up of graduation certificate from Kerala Ayurveda Academy

 

Explained: certification is not equivalent to NAMA membership

One of the most common questions we receive about NAMA has to do with how our programs qualify graduates. Key points to keep in mind:

  • Certifications are awarded by schools.
  • Professional Membership with NAMA is awarded by NAMA.
  • For NAMA membership eligibility, a graduate must have completed a program that is NAMA-approved and pass the NAMA Board Exam.
  • Our Academy offers program certifications for both NAMA-approved formats. The NAMA Track must be completed to be eligible for taking the NAMA Board Exam.
  • Enrolled students do not have to wait until graduation to pursue NAMA membership. They can apply for Student Membership.

Introducing our fall 2022 program formats

Some of our students prefer to take their certification entirely online, while others wish to complete the requirements for NAMA eligibility. One of our trademarks has been the added flexibility to choose between online and in person attendance throughout the year. We wish to continue offering this flexibility, with a clear pathway for meeting NAMA’s requirements.

Our answer is three tracks: Online, Hybrid and NAMA.

We introduced this approach to all of our professional certifications, beginning with the Holistic Ayurvedic Coach (HAC) program – which is equivalent to the first 6 modules of level I AHC, and therefore outside of NAMA’s requirement threshold. It also seamlessly transitions into the AHC program for students who wish to upskill.


The three tracks of our certifications

All Online Track
Hybrid Track
NAMA Track

All classes are attended via live streaming

Available for:

Holistic Ayurvedic Coach (HAC) – 300 Hours

Level I Ayurvedic Health Counselor (AHC) – 600 hours

Classes are attended in person and via live streaming

Available for:

Holistic Ayurvedic Coach (HAC) – 300 Hours

Level I Ayurvedic Health Counselor (AHC) – 600 hours

Level II Ayurvedic Practitioner (AP) – 910 Hours

Classes are attended in person and via live streaming

Practicums, Practical Immersions and Clinical Internships are attended in person based on NAMA requirements

Available for:

Level I Ayurvedic Health Counselor (AHC) – 600 hours

Level II Ayurvedic Practitioner (AP) – 910 Hours

close up of students engaging in class

The in person requirements: what to expect

A few important points about in person training with us:

  • Not all of the in person training available in a program is included in the in person requirements for the NAMA Track. This is because NAMA’s definition of these requirements is specific about the type of training the student receives – specifically, clinical training that is supervised.
  • The above point explains why our Hybrid Track exists – it offers in person training to the student based on what is convenient for the student, though it does not include the additional hours required to meet NAMA requirements.
  • In person requirements for the NAMA Track are unique to each program, so we recommend reading our Course Catalog to learn more about these requirements.

Transitioning to the NAMA Track

One of our prerogatives when designing the layout of these program formats was transitioning. We understand that circumstances can change, and want to offer options for students who complete the All Online or Hybrid Tracks and later wish to fulfill the NAMA Track requirements for NAMA membership eligibility. Our course catalog outlines the add-ons required for completing this transition as well as the costs involved. Both currently enrolled students and graduates can make this transition, and our team is available to support students in achieving this goal.


In short: what the new tracks offer

  • Track options are now crystal clear to help you pick what works best for you!
  • All Online Track is 100% online.
  • Hybrid Track is a blend of online and in person – flexibility!
  • NAMA Track is specifically designed so that you can meet all the requirements to be eligible for taking the National Ayurvedic Medical Association’s Board Exam.
  • Transition options are available for Counselor (AHC) and Practitioner (AP) students who wish to fulfill the requirements for our NAMA Track at a later time.