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School Interviews

Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula, Boulder, CO, USA
Alakananda Ma, Founder, Director

We started our gurukula at the sincere request of students eager to learn and with the intention of passing on the knowledge of Ayurveda in a very authentic way. We are a modern version of the traditional gurukula, combining the best of new paradigm medical education with the best of the ancient gurukula contemplative pedagogy. We seek to empower our students by placing in their hands the tools needed to garner and evaluate knowledge and information and by cultivating the seeds of stillness, altruism and compassionate service in their hearts. Honouring the multiple gifts brought by our students’ diversity of learning and experience, we see our students as both teachers and learners. We encourage the creation of a community of sharing and support on all levels. Our classes are small (5-12 students) and there is close personal mentoring and tutoring.

Our program was started from the beginning with a strong experiential focus. Recently we re-started with a revised two-year program de-emphasizing traditional lecture-based study and emphasizing case-based, student-directed, integrative learning. We also introduced peer mentoring and community based studies as an important integrative tool.

The gurukula provides me with the opportunity to devote myself selflessly to teaching and practicing Ayurveda as a full time volunteer. The chance to give from my heart is the greatest gift I could receive and brings immense happiness. Because of the experiential nature of the program, I continue to expand and develop my own knowledge on a daily basis. Our future looks exciting as we begin our four-year program in fall 2010, with our two year graduates going on to their third and fourth years, where they will gain in-depth understanding of differential diagnosis and deepen their knowledge of the practice and traditional teachings of Ayurveda.

The Ayurvedic Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Dr. Vasant Lad, Founder, Wynn Werner, Administrator

The Ayurvedic Institute was established in 1984 to: teach the principles and practices of Ayurveda to individuals for their own health care and to all health care professionals interested in offering Ayurveda in their professional practices; to establish a school, clinical facilities, publish literature and books, do research and collaborate with other organizations.

The Ayurvedic Institute uses the time-honored Vedic approach to education, teaching from an oral tradition where the teacher shares personal knowledge and experiences and blends the best of modern teaching methods that help the student learn the theory and practical applications of Ayurveda. Each student learns Ayurvedic principles and practices that, when integrated into their own lifestyle and practiced, bring true understanding and personal growth. Students develop knowledge and skill through individual and progressive group work, interactive exercises, projects, presentations and supervised practice with staff and students to develop clinical competencies.

The Ayurvedic Studies Programs include lectures, breakout sessions and an emphasis on practical exercises. Students earn 630 hours total of classroom time and spend 21-22 hours per week in class. Each week, a student can expect to spend a minimum of 1 hour on outside assignments and homework for each hour of class time. Anticipate spending at least 45-50 hours per week focused on school, including class time and outside homework.

The programs have expanded in hours, content and focus. We have expanded our facility, staff and faculty. We now have a permanent staff of almost 50 including 15 faculty members. Additionally, a significant part of the current Ayurvedic Studies Programs is designed to create clinical competencies. The programs include courses in: Ayurvedic Theory and Practice, Ayurvedic Lifestyle Practices, interactive laboratory practicums, Sanskrit, Ayuryoga, Ayurvedic Herbology, Anatomy and Physiology, Patho-Physiology, Integrated clinic and Grand Rounds. Students have changed as well. In addition to a growing interest in Ayurveda, and therefore an increase in the number of students, there are a growing percentage of students who are already or want to become professional health care providers in their individual communities.

Ayurveda has existed for several thousands of years. It has both ancient wisdom and the capacity to remain appropriate to the contemporary time and culture that embraces it. It is, at the same time, valuable to the individual for their personal wellbeing and to the health care professional caring for others, integrating Ayurvedic knowledge into whatever other health care disciplines the provider may utilize. Ayurveda can be taken a piece at a time or in its vast entirety, according to the ability and desire of the student / practitioner. The study and practice of Ayurvedic principles has a dramatic and often unexpected effect on a person’s body, mind and spirit, propelling them forward in all three areas of personal growth. Not only is this often a challenge for the student, but also for the school in properly supporting the students and in creating a safe space for this growth to occur. It is just as challenging for the staff and faculty as it is for the student body.

The future of Ayurveda is certain in one aspect: it will be available to those who seek it. Modern conventional medicine excels in emergency and acute healthcare. However many people feel its understanding and remedies for chronic and sub-acute healthcare is limited or lacking. Where conventional medicine is lacking, Ayurveda excels. Many people are waking up to the fact that they need to take a pro-active approach to their health and well being before they become sick. This is the ideal place for Ayurveda, to keep us all healthy, robust and productive. Ayurveda can stand on its own but its real strength is its ability to integrate with individuals and cultures at their level of need and understanding.

Bhavana Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda Studies, Chicago, Illinois
Patricia Layton, Founder

I have been training practitioners for the past ten years, five years in California and five years in Wisconsin. Because of my love of teaching and my love of the subject matter, when I was presented with the opportunity to start a program in Chicago, I took it.

The insitute’s program is heart-centered and experiential. The primary goal is the transformation of the student. The first year program is designed particularly to encourage the integration of Ayurvedic practices into the students’ lives. At the same time, definite competencies are emphasized so that after completion of the program students will be able to educate and coach others in the practices of Ayurveda. Year Two is a deepening and expansion of the skills and knowledge learned in Year One with the added addition of a supervised internship.

Since this is a new program, I would have to answer the question on “how has the program changed?”, to “how has my perspective changed over the years?” For the past ten years I have been able to see what works, what doesn’t work; how should the material and the classroom experience be re-shaped to enable the student and the program to meet its goals – graduating educators and practitioners of Ayurveda that understand the basic principles of Ayurveda and who are working to integrate those principles into their own lives; how to help others integrate those principles into their lives; and how to remain within their scope of practice. Refining what and how I teach has been an on-going process and I expect that to continue as long as I teach.

Teaching has always been a part of my yoga practice. Thirty-five years ago my spiritual mentor told me that, “you are not the teacher; you are the vehicle and the teachings will flow through you”. Due to my naiveté and love of my teacher I believed him and have found teaching to be one of the primary ways that I stay connected to his lineage as well as grow and mature emotionally and spiritually. Teaching is a humbling experience. I always tell my students that they see one teacher, I see a roomful of teachers. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

As Bhavana Institute is brand new I see a lot of growth in the future. Next year we will commence our Yoga Teacher Training Program as well as training in Ayurvedic Rasayana and Pancha Karma Therapies. On the other hand we are not “empire builders”. We started this school out of a love of the subject matter, Yoga and Ayurveda, and out of a love for our teachers who gave so much to us. We are more concerned with building a community of people who share that love and with whom we can share that love.

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