Ayurvedic Studies Program
Highly respected around the world, The Ayurvedic Institute has been teaching Ayurveda since 1984. Steeped in Vedic tradition, our Ayurvedic Studies Program (ASP), now in its 33rd year, is a full-time immersive journey into Ayurveda.
- Are you called to support others on their journey of health and well-being?
- Are you drawn to learn a truly holistic science?
- Are you inspired to study profound truths that transcend time and to be a bridge between that timeless wisdom and the modern world?
- Do you want an in-depth, immersive program in person that includes hands-on, clinical practice with clients?
- Are you inspired to study directly with Vasant Lad?
- Have you been studying Ayurveda but now want to become a full Ayurvedic professional, confident and competent?
The Ayurvedic Studies Program is a journey in learning, application, professional development and personal evolution. Steeped in Vedic tradition, this intensive offering is a unique full-time immersive journey into authentic Ayurveda. It is an invitation to live what you are learning, as you learn it, with a diverse group of students, teachers and staff dedicated to the same. Being an ASP student takes intentionality and dedicated willingness to explore with ever-greater openness, compassion and awareness.
Our first-year students (ASP1) graduate as certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultants and our second-year (ASP2) graduates are certified as Ayurvedic Health Practitioners, having completed a significant number of supervised clinical hours in our on-campus clinic. Graduates of ASP2 have the option of participating in our graduate clinical internship. We also have an ASP1 personal track option for people to study with us for their own enrichment without the formality of tests and exams.
ASP1 and ASP2 run concurrently from October to June of each year. The academic year is divided into three 10-week trimesters, each followed by a break. This school year commences with a mandatory orientation that begins on October 2, 2017 for ASP1 and on October 4, 2017 for ASP2.
- ASP Level 1
- ASP Level 2
Ayurvedic Studies Program, Level 1
The Ayurvedic Studies Program, Level 1 (ASP1), is the foundation of the educational programs offered at The Ayurvedic Institute. Students acquire a thorough understanding of the principles and practices of Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle, Sanskrit, Ayuryoga, anatomy and physiology, and client relationships. ASP1 is also considered a time to increase self-awareness, self-nurturance, community building, and rigorous study of Ayurvedic knowledge and practices. In each week of this program, an estimated 50-60 hours is dedicated to lecture, class, study, and practice including applied application outside of the classroom.
There are two ways to participate in ASP1
1. PROFESSIONAL TRACK
On the professional track, graduating students leave with a certificate as an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant. This is an amazing program for people wanting to become Ayurvedic professionals focused on the profound areas of diet, lifestyle and contemplative practices to encourage a life of balance. This program also benefits those who want to work simultaneously on their own personal evolution. ASP1’s scope of practice is focused on assessing a generally healthy person’s constitution and basic imbalances of dosha, agni, āma and dhātu and providing simple, practical, customized recommendations for clients. Students will also be able to recognize when to refer to either a licensed medical professional or a higher-level Ayurvedic Practitioner for more advanced work including herbal formulations. Many ASP1 graduates also work providing group education (such as offering lectures and seminars) or incorporate what they are learning into another field of practice. ASP1’s curriculum is recognized by the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. ASP1 meets competencies required for professional membership at the Ayurvedic Health Counselor level. They will also be able to work with other healthcare professionals to develop recommendations and implement treatments for clients with established pathologies. Graduates of the ASP1 Professional Track can apply for ASP2 which is focused on becoming an Ayurvedic practitioner.
2. PERSONAL TRACK
This is intended for students focused on their own personal enrichment and who are not looking to develop a professional practice of Ayurveda. Personal Track students take all of the same classes as the Professional Track students with the exception of classes oriented towards seeing clients. Personal Track students are under the same standards and guidelines for attendance. They do not receive assessments; for example, they do not take exams or receive grades. Upon graduation, these students receive a Certificate of Personal Track Completion.
WHAT TO EXPECT
ASP1’s schedule is intensive. There is an expectation that students are engaged in personal practice outside of the classroom while also attending all of their classes and engaging in study groups with others. The cumulative schedule is much fuller than a typical university load or full-time job. Our ASP1 program runs from October through June. Our classes are designed to complement and build upon each other and are the place where you and your classmates will learn both with and from each other. To foster continuity and community there is a set curriculum and schedule everyone follows.
- Ayurvedic Evening Lectures
This course is amazing in its depth and breadth! It is the foundation for ASP1. Through lecture with accompanying exercises and practicum, students are provided with a thorough examination of the philosophy, principles, and practices of Ayurveda.
Evening Lecture is a time of deep exploration into the key concepts of Ayurveda. We explore the relational aspect of Ayurveda: between body, mind and spirit, seasons, locale and time cycles, elements (bhūtas), qualities (gunas), tridosha, prakruti and vikruti, tissues (dhātus) while simultaneously developing an appreciation for and better understanding of the core concepts of Ayurveda, through the ancient roots of the shad darshan (seven Indian philosophical systems) with special reference to Sānkhya philosophy and its influence on Ayurvedic thought. We study doshas and dhātus, agni and āma, ojas, tejas, prāna and more. The course invites inquiry into one’s relationship with self, fellow classmates, clients, teachers and the material itself. Students learn to identify prodromal symptoms and cardinal signs of disease, distinguish between the six stages of samprāpti (disease pathogenesis), develop clinical skills in trividhā and ashtavidhā parīkshā, the three- and eight-fold examinations used in Ayurveda and more. The first trimester includes a series of videotaped lectures by Vasant Lad facilitated by our faculty. In the second and third trimesters, Vasant Lad teaches in person his extensive understanding of the ancient texts as well as lessons drawn from his many years of experience as an Ayurvedic physician.
- Principles of Ayurvedic Nutrition with Special Reference to the Kitchen Pharmacy
The Ayurvedic science of āhāra (food and diet) is vast, comprehensive and influences every aspect of one’s life. Ayurveda offers a logical approach for determining a diet based upon an individual’s constitution; an approach that is often quite different from the current western definition of a balanced diet. In this course, students look at food selection, food combining, use of spices and seasonings and healthy eating practices through an Ayurvedic lens, and develop ways to incorporate this into their personal and professional practices. In the third trimester, students begin learning the fundamentals of Ayurvedic herbalism with a strong focus on the medicinal properties of culinary herbs and spices including their qualities, actions, effects, and applications. Students learn techniques for kindling agni (dīpana), understand the four clinical conditions of agni and demonstrate techniques for working with them. They learn about the stages of digestion—which taste(s) are predominant in each, where each stage is happening in the body, and what effect each stage is having on body and mind. We explore the rasa, vīrya, vipāka and prabhāva of foods. We teach about proper and improper food combinations and foods that are balancing (or unbalancing) for vāta, pitta, and kapha. We explore the idea of mindfulness in relation to nutrition and how psychology, seasonality, and stages of life relate to food and nutrition. Students learn about various cooking methods and utensils and each of their effects on digestion and the doshas. Students will understand how to use common herbs found in the kitchen to help tailor meal plans for themselves and their clients.
- Ayuryoga® for Individual Health & Healing
Ayurveda accepts and incorporates the shad darshan, the six systems of Indian philosophy or ways of understanding life. One of these philosophies is yoga which means union — the union of the lower self with the higher self, ātman with paramātman. Traditionally, Ayurveda and yoga were practiced together. Both uphold the four aims of life as the highest achievements. Together they enhance each other and the healing of mind, body and consciousness while contributing to self-development, self-realization and overall well-being.
This course is designed to help support your relationships, integration of knowledge and overall well-being with a focus on what will assist you in this program. It considers many aspects of classical yoga including a focus on lifestyle principles, practices and ethical disciplines like the yamas (austerities) and niyamas (observances), the yogic branches of karma (action) yoga, bhakti (devotion) yoga and jñana (knowledge) yoga, breathing techniques (prānāyāma), meditation and mudra. It is not a course on āsana or on teaching yoga though there will be some guided movement in the course. Students gain a deeper understanding of the mind and its operations, deepen and expand their personal practice of inquiry, meditation, and pranayama. Students explore the ethical foundation of yoga and its application in daily living, fostering an embodied harmonious relationship between body, mind, and our higher and deeper aspirations. Additionally, they learn to perform bhastrikā, kapāla bhāti, anuloma viloma, agni sara, bhrāmarī, ujjāyi, shītalī, shītkāri, and utgeet prānāyāmas and how to perform and teach so’ham and empty bowl meditations.
- Ayurvedic Principles in Daily Life
In this course, journaling, group discussion and hands-on exercises guide students as they begin the transformational process of integrating Ayurvedic philosophy, diet, and lifestyle into their own daily routine. By solidifying their own individual daily practices, students are able to advise and teach clients about these practices from a place of experience and compassion. Clinical skills, including rapport, blood pressure, findings and recommendations are all taught and practiced in preparation for seeing clients. Elements of Ayurvedic pulse assessment including how to evaluate and analyze prakruti (constitution), vikruti (current imbalance) and organ pulse are introduced as the foundation for more in-depth pulse analysis training in ASP2. Students eventually tie together the topics being explored in a number of other first-year courses, which enable them to design and manage Ayurvedic chikitsā (recommendations) for diet (āhāra), lifestyle (vihāra), and spices (dravya).
- Learning Sanskrit through Sūtras, Shastras and Sandhis
Sanskrit, the language of Ayurveda, is an indispensable tool in the study and practice of Ayurveda and all of the traditions stemming from the Vedas. For thousands of years the knowledge of Ayurveda has been passed down in the form of sūtras or small phrases. In the inquiring minds of students, sūtras bring hidden knowledge to consciousness and therefore hold an important place in our curriculum. First year students begin by learning the Sanskrit alphabet, learning to properly enunciate Sanskrit, establishing competency and confidence with the Devanagari script and its transliteration into Roman characters. They become familiar with the principles of Sanskrit grammar in order to decipher the sūtras of Ayurveda. Students become proficient in recognizing and utilizing critical Sanskrit terms of Ayurvedic anatomy, physiology, pathology and chikitsā and are exposed to classical tools and methods of learning and perception to receive and begin to utilize Ayurveda.
- Language and Landscape of the Body
Throughout our program students learn how to use the rays of knowledge to screen the internal organs through external observation of the body. This course offers a foundation for that knowledge providing a framework of western anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology necessary to support students especially in Vasant Lad’s classes. This knowledge helps student improve communication with clients and other practitioners in the health field. Students study the basic rules of medical terminology and build vocabulary necessary to succeed. The course focuses on the terminology and exploration of surface anatomy so that students gain comfort both in describing and locating major structures and regions of the body. We explore the concept of homeostasis and examine the roles that different body systems play in maintaining balance in the human organism and using body systems to highlight the central themes of homeostasis and interrelationship of form and function (for example, digestive, nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic and body defense systems.) This provides reference points that serve as a solid background for encompassing the western medical model with Ayurveda.
- Clinical Consultations
Bringing together the theory, communication and assessment skills gained throughout the first two trimesters, students begin to see clients in teams and supported by our professional clinical supervisors. Working within the scope of practice of an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, which includes preventive healthcare as well as health promotion through diet and lifestyle, students provide individual recommendations according to their assessment of the patient’s Ayurvedic constitution and imbalances (prakruti and vikruti), state of the doshas, agni, dhātus, malas, and manas (mind). Through follow-up consultations, they track the progress and efficacy of these recommendations and deepen their understanding of Ayurveda’s approach to treating each client as an individual.
In addition to the required courses, we offer a number of elective topics throughout the year. For ASP1, there is a requirement of 20 hours of elective topics. Those topic options are updated by trimester.
EXAMPLES OF ASP1 COURSES
Ayurvedic Studies Program, Level 2
The Ayurvedic Studies Program, Level 2 builds upon ASP1 with an emphasis on increasing depth and breadth of knowledge and application in a clinical setting. Our ASP2 graduates receive an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner certificate. Graduates are competent in a scope of practice that includes being able to assess an individual’s unique constitution and elements of physiological imbalance according to dosha, agni, āma, gati, and srotas. Graduates of ASP2 are able to create recommendations using dietary, lifestyle and contemplative practices along with customized herbal protocols and Ayurvedic treatments that include external basti, lepa and marma therapy to encourage healing and a lifestyle in balance with nature. They will also be able to work with other healthcare professionals to develop recommendations and implement treatments for clients with established pathologies.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Like ASP1, ASP2’s schedule is intensive. There is an expectation that students are engaged in personal practice outside of the classroom while also attending all of their classes and engaging in study groups with others. Clinical practice may include Saturday shifts. The cumulative schedule is much fuller than a typical university load or full-time job. Our ASP2 program runs from October through June. Our classes are designed to complement and build upon each other and are the place where you and your fellow classmates will learn both with and from each other. To foster both this continuity and community, there is a set curriculum and schedule everyone follows. Classes are concurrent with practicing in the student clinic.
- Gurukula: Vasant Lad Client Consultations and Lectures
In this amazing, client-centered course, students observe Vasant Lad consulting with pañchakarma (PK) clients to learn the art and science behind his assessments, findings, and recommendations. Vasant Lad personally teaches based on his extensive understanding of the ancient texts as well as his many years of experience as an Ayurvedic physician. He works with each client uniquely, applying his knowledge and experience in each consultation, and follows these consultations with lecture and practice. On Mondays and Thursdays students observe and assist Vasant Lad in a clinical intake and follow-up with two to four clients who have come to The Institute for pañchakarma. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Vasant Lad’s lectures will cover the Ayurvedic assessment, understanding and management of many common disorders. Gurukula class is the Ayurvedic equivalent of shadowing a medical doctor on rounds, and will greatly broaden your clinical exposure. In addition, observing Vasant Lad will deepen your understanding of his distinct knowledge and approach to client assessment, and chikitsā, the foundation of The Ayurvedic Institute’s curriculum and standards. This course increases students’ clinical experience and confidence by observing and assisting Vasant Lad with pulse reading, palpation, percussion and blood pressure and occasionally with the explanation of a particular prānāyāma, meditation or other recommendations. Students learn how to approach parīkshā, formulation and chikitsā, etiology, prodromal and cardinal signs and symptoms, dosha gati and the samprāpti of many common disorders. They gain familiarity with allopathic terms and descriptions and viewpoints for these disorders in order to effectively and responsibly communicate and integrate with medical professionals.
- The Art of Nadi Vijnanam
For an Ayurvedic practitioner, pulse opens the doors of deeper perception and pulse assessment is part of the core of Vasant Lad’s teaching of assessment techniques. In this course, students deepen their clinical understanding of the qualities and layers of the pulse through lecture, hands-on practicum, and consistent practice outside of the classroom. Building on the pulse foundation from ASP1, students will be able to assess all seven layers of the pulse, arrive at a physiological understanding of the client and create confluence of their assessment through pulse analysis. This hands-on topic requires significant practice both in and out of the classroom.
- Classical Texts: Reading and Interpretation
The ancient authoritative texts of Ayurveda contain thousands of verses on the fundamental principles, philosophy and ethics of this vast science, in addition to details encompassing pathology, diet, diagnosis, therapies, surgical procedures, and more. By becoming familiar with the organization and division of classical Ayurvedic literature, the major resources and proclivities of the dominant texts, and the unique perspectives of their respective authors, students expand and enrich their comprehension of the topics discussed within a modern Ayurvedic curriculum.
- Dravya Guna Shāstra
Unlike pharmaceuticals, herbs such as those used in Ayurvedic aushada (medicine) are dynamic; they are imbued with mahad (universal intelligence) and can act differently depending on the client and situation. Therefore the use of Ayurvedic herbs demands a great deal of awareness on the part of the practitioner. Foundational to this course and to Ayurvedic pharmacology is the understanding of the rasadi pañchakam for each substance; that is: the rasa (the taste of a substance), vīrya (its potency), vipāka (its post-digestive effect), prabhāva (its potential to have dynamic action at the level of cell nucleus) and guna (the qualities of a substance). Drawing from both classic and modern sources, students will explore the qualities, actions, effects, applications, indications, contraindications, toxicity and proper dosage of a wide variety of Ayurvedic herbs. By surveying traditional and modern formulations and compounds used in Ayurvedic chikitsā and learning essential processes of preparation, students develop both knowledge of and relationship with this dynamic, natural medicine.
- Clinical Examination of Srotāmsi
While there are countless channels or srotas within the human body, this course focuses on the detailed assessment and examination of 13 in particular. From the root, to the path and opening of each channel, proper inquiry and clinical examination of srotas provides an understanding of the larger paradigm of imbalance. This hands-on course gives student practitioners the opportunity to practice the methodical assessment techniques taught by Vasant Lad and used in our on-campus Ayurvedic center of health, healing and longevity. Refinement of pulse and questioning skills, practice in auscultation, palpation, percussion, taking vital signs and conducting simple neurological exams broadens students’ clinical skills. Residing in a space of compassion for each individual we are examining deepens a student’s innate healing capacity and leads to better understanding of a person’s unique imbalance and the means for returning harmony not only to body, but to mind, spirit and consciousness.
- Chanting Sanskrit Sūtras
Sanskrit is the sacred language of yoga, of Ayurveda, and of ancient mystical texts, and as such, it provides words for subtle concepts and imparts a deep, vibration resonance when chanted, especially in a group setting. Ayurveda is, at its heart, an oral tradition that for millennia has been imparted from teacher to student through the chanting of sūtras: aphorisms that encompass a concentrated form of knowledge. Ayurvedic sūtras play a key role in the propagation of knowledge within our curriculum. Building on the reading, writing and grammar competency gained in ASP1, this course will continue to foster Sanskrit reading and comprehension skills with an emphasis on chanting and memorization of sūtras. Class intonation of these verses guides us in unlocking the eternal wisdom of Ayurveda encoded within them, fosters healthy self-expression and unites us on a sacred journey of learning.
- Shamana Therapies
The Ayurvedic art of shamana is an ancient system of healing that involves balancing and pacifying the three bodily doshas by a number of therapies. Shamana can bring longevity and a refined quality of consciousness, and is particularly beneficial for young children, the elderly, debilitated patients, those suffering from chronic illness, and all others who are not strong enough to bear the strain of Ayurveda’s stronger cleansing therapies. This course offers a hands-on practicum in treatment and assessment modalities with an emphasis on a variety of shamana therapies including shirodhāra, external bastis, e.g., kati basti, hrid basti, netra basti, jānu basti, and prushta basti, as well as internal and uttara bastis, triphala eyewash, karna pūrana, nasya, and herbal lepas and their application. Many of these therapies can be further practiced with clients in our on-campus Ayurvedic center for healing, life and longevity. Students are also introduced to a limited number of pañchakarma therapies, which helps deepen their understanding of clients seen during their Gurukula course with Vasant Lad as well as preparing them for further post-graduate study in our six-week pañchakarma therapy training in India.
- Marma Chikitsa as a Path to Inner Pharmacy
Marmāni, 117 vital energy points on the body, are valuable tools in both the assessment and management of imbalances in the body, mind, and consciousness. Through lecture, we will learn how marma correspond to the five elements, the 15 subdoshas, chakras, koshas (energy sheaths), vital organs, tissues, srotāmsi (channels) and more. Using guided, hands-on practicum students learn how to incorporate marma chikitsā (therapy) into their Ayurvedic practice to treat a range of imbalances, ranging from imbalanced agni (digestive fire) and immune function to emotional disturbances and pain. The use of essential oils, tuning forks and other tools will also be discussed. Students gain further practice and confidence in marma therapy with clients in our on-campus clinic.
- Ayurvedic Case Studies
In this highly participatory course, the instructor presents a range of case studies that exemplify aspects of various diseases and disease differentiation. By reviewing these studies individually and in groups, students gain an increased understanding of how to follow the thread of imbalance through an Ayurvedic lens. What insights can be gained by critical review of a client’s paperwork prior to their appointment? Using skillful prashna (questioning) and attentive listening skills, what spoken and unspoken concerns are being shared during the consultation? What is the samprāpti (pathogenesis) of the disorder? Student groups will discuss each case with openness, compassion and an understanding towards what might support each unique client in their unique situation, ultimately designing and discussing chikitsā (treatment protocols) for each, and viewing the working of the body as a dance of doshas, srotāmsi, malas, tissues, senses, and mind.
- Integrated Approach to Ayurvedic Pathophysiology
This course is an introduction to classical pathologies from an Ayurvedic perspective, supplemented by discussions about allopathic models of disease and standard of care for the selected imbalances. Students begin to layer in classical understanding of disease paradigms using cases to illustrate the movements of dosha through samprāpti. They gain discernment of the movement of dosha and its effect on physiology from the point of view of classical disease paradigms, learn to recognize certain disease processes, markers, and movements through understanding cause, symptoms, and secondary diseases through case study and accrue experience and understanding in how to design treatment protocols.
- Ayurvedic Life Cycles
The natural cycles of human life bring with them physiological, mental and emotional changes, and this course guides students in an Ayurvedic exploration of these transitions. There is an emphasis on female reproductive health, fertility and children’s medicine, which are considered a specialty in Ayurvedic practice. Students discuss disorders and recommendations for menarche through menopause — including pregnancy and postpartum care. They learn how to design Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle recommendations that a whole family can implement and benefit from. This course gives students a deeper understanding of themselves and each other, and broadens their competency in Ayurvedic practice.
- Introduction to Ayurvedic Jyotish
This ten-week course of Ayurvedic Jyotisha (Vedic astrology) provides students a tool for indicating a person’s constitution and health from an Ayurvedic perspective and lays the groundwork for students to follow Vasant Lad in Gurukula as he consults with clients. Students gain general comprehension of the principles and fundamentals of Jyotisha within an Ayurvedic context, determine how these fundamentals signal desirable and undesirable outcomes in various areas of life, including health, family, career, and other life themes. This course provides students with a basic familiarity of the North Indian astrological chart so that they can refer clients to professional Jyotish consultants for in-depth evaluation. The course covers the basics of Jyotisha and anatomy-related details of the doshas and dhātus. Students learn the grahas (planets) including deities and days of the week, rashis (signs), bhavas (houses) and their lords, nakshatras (constellations), dhristis (aspects), vikruti and prakruti, in addition to timing: dashas (periods), gocharas (transits), and varshaphala (annual charts). Medical applications and upayas (remedies) are included as are other scriptural techniques. As part of the curriculum, students will apply Jyotisha’s principles to their own horoscopes.
- Ayuryoga® for Client’s Health and Healing
Second year students continue their exploration of yoga philosophy and guided practices while expanding their competency to include teaching Vasant Lad’s specific set of seven prānāyāma as part of a larger Ayurvedic protocol that helps clients establish balance, improve digestion and ease specific conditions covered elsewhere in their clinical curriculum. Students will explore, theoretically, different styles of yoga they may encounter when working with clients in order to understand how these styles may influence the prakruti/vikruti paradigm. Those interested in teaching Ayuryoga āsana to clients or who want to become yoga therapists, will need additional training.
- Student Clinical Experience
In the clinic, students provide consultations first to other students and then to the general public in a supervised and monitored environment to ensure correct utilization of Ayurvedic examination techniques: ashtavidhā parīkshā and trividhā parīkshā. Students create chikitsā (treatment regimen) that includes addressing diet, lifestyle, therapies, herbal products, and contemplative practices, and eventually herbal and body treatment recommendations. Students focus on how to engage with compassion and establish trust, credibility, and rapport with the client while also learning time management of visits. They develop the ability to manage multiple factors such as initial examination, report of findings, recommendations and follow-up. All clinic sessions include grand rounds where clinical staff facilitates group discussion for a more in-depth understanding of cases. There are over 100 hours of scheduled clinic time.
In addition to the required courses, we offer a number of elective topics throughout the year. For ASP2, there is a requirement of 24 hours of elective topics. Those topic options are updated by trimester.
EXAMPLES OF ASP2 COURSES
Feeling the pulse is an art. Awareness should be passive and one should let that awareness act upon the mind… to use a machine as a diagnostic tool is alright to quantify perception, but to qualify perception requires the sensitivity of the human fingers. Use the tips of the fingers to feel the nature or gati of the pulse and bear in mind the three basic pulses.
– Vasant Lad, BAM&S, MASc