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School Interviews

Florida College of Integrative Health, Sarasota, Florida
Light Miller, N.D., Co-founder and Director

The school came to me by Divine Design. I had been marketing my correspondence course and the Florida Vedic College needed someone to establish a satellite office because their program was an intensive curriculum from India. After 1 month in India students were getting sick and unable to continue their studies. Therefore, I was given the opportunity to run a branch program in Sarasota, Florida.

My current school, Florida College of Integrative Health, is a college course affiliated with the East-West College of Natural Health. It is a Florida State degree program established by my friend Cynthia O'Donnell and myself who envision more natural health schools in this country. As alternative medicine arises in awareness, it has been our dream to work together. Therefore, my dharma has been, once again, laid out before me to be a director/teacher of another school.

We have four levels of certification. Level 1 is for those who have a degree or are licensed in health care. Level 2 - is for those who want to be approved by NAMA. Level 3 - is for those who want to get an Ayurvedic Associate Degree. Level 4 - is for those who wish an Ayurvedic Degree in Health Science. Ayurvedic Massage prepares the student to become nationally licensed; this course can be taken separately or in conjunction with any of the above courses.

The Vedic Paradigm includes: Ayurvedic Foundations, Physiology, Psychology, Nutrition, Herbology, Yoga, Vedic Bodywork, and Pathophysiology. Sanskrit program includes: Tarka Sankhya & Sharir; Dosha Dhatu Mala Vigyan; Manasa Shastra; Ahara Vigyan; Dravya Guna Rasa Shastra; Yoga Vigyan; Panchakama; and Nidan Chilitsa.

Over the years the Ayurvedic standards thru NAMA have been increased. The NAMA conferences have become more research oriented. Yet, we still do not have accreditation that is sufficient to practice Ayurvedic Medicine in this country. Ayurvedic licensing is extremely important so that we are not challenged thru State organizations in areas of diet, nutrition, and detoxification with separate licensing requirements.

The gifts I have received include experiencing the good fortune of educating people of all ages and all professions. I was also fortunate to have been a member of the NAMA Board of Directors to assist in establishing NAMA standards of practice for Ayurveda. I have been exposed to many of the schools, their curriculum, and have worked with the most dedicated individuals in the field of Ayurveda. I was also gifted with the opportunity to organize the first national Ayurvedic Conference.

My strong insight for the future is that we need to find some form of licensing that allows graduates to practice without the threat of State regulations, FDA, etc. and SOON….

In the future, I also see more practitioners assisting in the change that needs to take place in this country. Ayurveda has the true health care system which is based in prevention and natures laws.

International Vedic Institute School of Ayurveda, Ohio
Swami Sada Siva Tirth, PhD, Founder/Director

I started this school since there were only two other schools back in 1990 and none on the east coast. This program is characterized by its unique teaching style (gurukul) where students learn more through experience than merely through theory alone. Over the years I have expanded it and added hands-on training - all based on needs of the students and in response to their suggestions

We are able to give confidence and successful practice ability to students as good as any residential classes (albeit minus the social interaction). We realize the need for a broader definition of ayurveda than merely a medical science and find that incorporation of spiritual healing becomes the core of successful client healings. In the future, I see more of a need from society for spiritual foundation for healing (ie, expanding ayurveda to see it as a true life science and not just medical body/mind approach.

Kanyakumari, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Cheryl Silberman, Founder, Director

After graduating from CCA in 1998, I saw that many of the students were only opening practices in California and neighboring States.  Other students from the Ayurvedic Institute stayed south and a few others were on the East Coast.  I was the lone person who decided upon practicing in the entire Midwest. After opening my first Ayurvedic office, I saw there was not only a thirst for the healing practices of Ayurveda, but also a beckoning of a more formal Ayurvedic educational program servicing the Midwestern States.  We organized a Milwaukee Ayurvedic Study Group in my home and that then grew into an Ayurvedic School with certification from the State of Wisconsin and NAMA - called Kanyakumari Ayurveda Education.  We now have happy students from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan and North Carolina.  

Kanyakumari Ayurveda Education provides quality education in the spiritual teachings of Ayurveda and Yoga. The mission and goals at Kanyakumari surround a deep commitment to the personal journey of each student through the wisdom of the sister sciences of Ayurveda and Yoga.  Kanyakumari is deeply committed to offering an education that delves into the holistic understanding of an integrated health perspective. Our goal is to provide an Ayurvedic education that is a framework to explore the whole person, one's personal transformation and their well-being.  

The heart-centered Ayurvedic training programs at Kanyakumari are designed to provide a solid foundation and credible certification for the student to use in their future healing work and communities.  By integrating the teachings into their personal lives, many students from varying backgrounds and education can come together to experience a profound understanding of themselves and the uniqueness of the process of self-realization.  This individual process comes about from the profound philosophy and practices of Ayurveda taught at Kanyakumari. 

Kanyakumari's Year One Educator and Year Two Practitioner programs both hold competencies that are upheld by NAMA, the National Ayurveda Medical Association. Kanyakumari's programs meet 20 hours per month, one weekend for 10 months. This schedule is advantageous for those who work part and full time.  Expectations for students involve homework assignments, monthly tests, class readings and the practical application of Ayurveda into their lives.  All students are guided by qualified teachers from varied medical, integrative and experienced Ayurvedic backgrounds.  Kanyakumari's students are supported by an outstanding full service Ayurvedic clinic and staff, panchakarma services, an herbal apothecary, visiting Vaidyas and varied Yoga and 

Ayurveda community class offerings.  

The Year One program, CAE or Certification as an Ayurvedic Educator, prepares students to educate, serve, and guide their clients, students, and families in the Ayurvedic way of life. This is done through diet, lifestyle, and herbal methodology.The Year Two program, CAP or Certification as an Ayurvedic Practitioner, deepens the knowledge from Year One, preparing the student for, primarily, one-on-one work with clients. We also offer 200 and 500-hour RYT certifications for Yoga Teacher trainees. 

Experienced and highly educated Ayurveda and Yoga teachers guide Kanyakumari’s educational programs.  They share their experience and provide special opportunities for the students to experience educational, personal and spiritual transformation.  We are again a community of support that helps the student fulfill their goals and intentions.

Some of the largest changes or additions over the years would be in the arena of our full service Ayurvedic clinic.  We now house a complete Ayurvedic/western pharmacy and carry our own line of Ayurvedic formulas and products.  Our new Wellness Room sells a variety of other Ayurvedic and yogic products, books and also an Ayurvedic skin care line.  We now have a residential panchakarma program that was voted in the top 6 list in the country.  Our Panchakarma training program continues to grow and expand.  Our staff now includes a Wellness psychologist, many staff pranic healers, marketing director and many other wonderful healers. We are also blessed to host Vaidya Mishra 3-4 times per year.  He has shared his blessed teachings on Vibrational Ayurveda with our school and community.  Lastly, we have included many extensive community workshops and events.  
I am continually in a place of appreciation for the blessings and support of the Goddess.  The Divine has given all of us at Kanyakumari the opportunity to share this beautiful healing science with our students and community.  I stand in gratitude.  I continue to learn and grow from everyone who steps through our front door.  

The future holds many expansions for Kanyakumari.  A Seva Clinic providing a sliding scale and free services is needed.  I see more educational programs growing - Nutrition, Energy Therapies, bodywork, Women's, yoga, Sanskrit, Jyotish, Vaastu, travel and expanded education in India. Future expansion would also provide continued education for community businesses, seniors and youth.   I also envision a Kanyakumari Ayurvedic Retreat in a rural and natural setting that would include land for organic gardening, greenhouses and other sustainable practices. 

Kripalu School of Ayurveda, Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Hilary Garivaltis, Dean

We started the school because there were only a few programs on the east coast in 2003, some were more residential and others were focused on correspondence courses. There was a need for a more accessible and face-to-face oriented program. I had started working at Kripalu in late 2001 and realized that Kripalu had the space, and ability to establish a wonderful program. We began the planning as early late 2002 and launched our first class in January 2005.

The program at Kripalu has been able to take some of the most valuable components of vedic education and adapt it to a modern western life. Kripalu focuses its trainings on “experiential” learning objectives. Due to the residential aspect of our training programs, the students are able to live, study and work side by side with the teachers and staff. They are able to sink into the Ayurvedic/yogic lifestyle and actually learn the depths of yoga and Ayurveda from the inside out. It is balanced with rigorous classes and study of the texts as well.

We are also committed to the blending of yoga and Ayurveda in our curriculum and to teaching from these complimentary systems and philosophies. This, we feel, is a great strength of our program. Kripalu has been successful in bringing many voices and teachers of Ayurveda together for our students in a way that enriches their views and allows for the students to learn from some of the best teachers worldwide. This has been one of the richest parts of our program.

We have learned something new every year and have added critical components all along the way. The biggest change has been in moving from a weekend once per month format to a module style intensive format, which allows our students to really settle in and have a deeper and more practical experience with the knowledge and the teachers. We are now able to offer our 750-hour curriculum within one year instead of spread out over two years. This has also allowed students from over seas and across the states to take part in this unique program.

As the Dean and director of the program, I have been privileged to work with some of the most respected and knowledgeable  teachers of yoga and Ayurveda in the world. I grow every time they are here. I have also been privileged to work with truly dedicated students whose commitment to Ayurveda is deeply touching and inspiring.

Kripalu offers me the rare opportunity to introduce Ayurveda to the lay person as well as the dedicated student and has continually shown me how important this work is and how receptive people in the US are to this amazing science. The gifts are endless.

I see a hopeful and bright future for Ayurveda in this land. I see practitioners expanding into communities in the cities and countryside and offering complimentary healthcare pieces that are missing in the healthcare puzzle as it is right now. I see the Ayurvedic schools growing and expanding their offerings, allowing Ayurveda to grow on this soil and adapt to the needs of the western clients, while bringing the depth and natural harmony that Ayurveda is steeped in. I see us as American practitioners, exploring the use of our own herbs and medicines from our own land within the Ayurvedic model. Adapting to our own environment and using what nature is providing us at home is a fundamental principle of Ayurveda . I see Ayurveda joining hands with our native traditional healers and systems to learn together how to heal the earth and its people.

Mt. Madonna Institute College of Ayurveda, Watsonville, California
Cynthia Copple, Dean

We started the school to train competent and confident Ayurvedic Practitioners in the classical way. Ayurveda had been taught at Mount Madonna for 26 years, and we wanted to create a state-approved educational program to certify graduates and to offer M.A. degrees.

Our program can be characterized as one offering intense, deep, spiritual, study with masters of Ayurveda in a beautiful mountaintop yoga center

The program was excellent from the start and has been refined through our experience

My gifts:  I am impressed with the depth of knowledge and wisdom that pours from our renowned faculty and impressed with the level of our graduates.  Ayurveda is a spiritual science indeed.

In the future, we will have a Pancha Karma program, Healing weekends, more graduate level programs and more introductory programs.



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