School of Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion
Since 2008, Joyful Belly has been bringing tasty, healthy recipes to dinner tables around the world. Using integrative, functional medicine based on the ancient healing technique called Ayurveda, Joyful Belly helps you find food, recipes and herbs to support your health and wellness.
To see the foods and recipes that are healthy for your body type, start with the free body type quiz.
Our recipes are designed to support digestion, correct imbalances, and restore health and wellness, one meal at a time. We publish weekly articles to help you learn the principles of self-healing in our newsletter and library. Our store brings natural herbal products into your home to help you along the way of your healing journey.
In 2012, we opened the Joyful Belly Institute of Digestion and Nutrition, a school designed to teach students the basic principles of functional digestion as well as Ayurvedic methods for healing digestive tract pathologies. Our school now offers two programs the Mastering Ayurvedic Digestion & Nutrition 500HR, which teaches health professionals about Ayurvedic digestion, and the Fundamentals of Natural Healing 750HR, which introduces students to the framework of Ayurvedic healing.
Joyful Belly was founded by John & Natalie Immel, who remain passionate about helping you achieve your health and wellness goals.
Joyful Belly aims to provide a practical, wholesome experience for those individuals who want to explore natural health & wellness, and the benefits of Ayurveda, free of new age spirituality.
"After years of practicing Yoga spirituality and Buddhism, I returned to the
Catholic church for these reasons,
which have been essential to my development as an Ayurvedic practitioner - as a
caretaker of life.
As a Catholic, I have come to believe Ayurveda's natural techniques affirm the dignity of the body
as God made it.
Jesus loved to feed people and heal the sick.
His caring love is the joy and aspiration of Ayurveda as well.
Ayurveda has truly given me a unique opportunity to participate in the
healing mission of the Church. "
Drawing on years of research and clinical experience specializing in digestive disorders, John Immel directs the Joyful Belly Institute’s Master of Ayurvedic Digestion 500 hour program. He is the founder of Joyful Belly, an educational Ayurvedic health care website, and oversees the Joyful Belly Clinic.
John studied Ayurveda under Dr. Vasant Lad and is specialized in the advanced treatment of digestive tract pathology. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University. He first discovered Ayurveda while working on a public health project in Bangladesh. John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel.
After witnessing Ayurveda's compelling efficiency and practical ease in treatment of his own digestive disorder, John was convinced others could benefit. He sought a way introduce Ayurveda to the broader American public and make it more culturally accessible. This was the genesis of Joyful Belly. Using ingredients familiar from his childhood, John created thousands of Ayurvedic recipes for the average American. Joyful Belly proves Ayurveda is practical way to improve everyday health & wellness. His simple, direct and familiar approach has helped thousands on their journey to health. John recently published, "Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food" with co-author Natalie Immel.
He is a member of NAMA, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, and AAPNA, the Association of Ayurvedic Professionals of North America.
John's StyleUnlike other traditions, Ayurveda practitioners have to be great teachers so that clients can learn how to self-heal. As a teacher, I strive not only to communicate the basic principles of Ayurveda, but to bring Ayurveda to life by sharing my personal healing journey, and the healing I have personally experienced as a practitioner. When I am at my best, you will find that my presentations are rich with anecdotes. Despite the seriousness of the topic, you will find I maintain a sense of humor as we discuss the blood and guts of health. This humor often comes at my own expense, which I hope you will enjoy!
On a more emotional level, I place a great deal of emphasis on empathy in every interaction I have with my students and my clients. The fundamental skill of empathy is the ability to walk in another's shoes. As a empathetic person, I always strive to appreciate and learn from your perspective and vantage point. I want to know you, and what makes you the person that you are.
Yet, the most important quality and teaching skill I possess is neither language nor empathy. Instead, it is my enthusiasm for Ayurveda, and for you. I am eager to give myself fully and passionately to your learning process. This enthusiasm is the true source of my confidence. Why am I so enthusiastic? Where does the boundless energy I offer to teach others how to heal come from? The bottomless well of energy I bring to our discussions springs from my great faith in each and every individual's capacity to learn and grow. Teaching is therefore a true celebration for me. This great hope I've invested in teaching is something I will never give up on, which means I will never give up on you!
Clinical Specialties While John's clinical practice spans the range from digestion to elimination, and weight loss, John's clinical focus is in:
John's Personal BackgroundJohn's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing.
As a Catholic, John brings a unique perspective to Ayurveda. Jesus' primary ministry was to feed and heal the sick. His ministry is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well. John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church.
He is fluent in Bengali and French, and enjoys studying Sanskrit, Arabic, and more recently, Swedish. In addition to his passion for Ayurveda, John enjoys spending time with his family and praying, two activities which he believes are essential to any health and wellness counselor. John grew up on the East End of Long Island, and spent much of his childhood on the bays of the South Shore of Long Island.
Natalie Immel received her 600 hour certification in Ayurveda at the Asheville School of Massage and Yoga, and received her 500 hour certification through the Master Ayurvedic Nutrition and Digestion Program at Joyful Belly Ayurveda. She specializes in cleansing and detoxification therapies, and is well versed in western nutrition. She earned her undergraduate degree in Religious Studies at Vassar College where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors. Natalie used the principles of Ayurveda to heal from severe anorexia which at one time left her hospitalized. She now offers her insights to help other young women find freedom from eating disorders. Natalie is fluent in Swedish. She enjoys quilting, her prayer life, discovering new recipes and experimenting with health food.
More recently in 2015, Natalie published Explore Your Hunger.
Kimberly Kubicke is an Ayurvedic practitioner specializing in the gut microbiome and colon health. She is a writer and editor for the My Personal Body Book, and manages Joyful Belly's Balance Your Diet in a Week online e-Course. She also teaches in Joyful Belly's Mastering Ayurvedic Digestion & Nutrition: 500 Certification Course. Kimberly completed her Ayurvedic training with Dr. Vasant Lad. She also studied Ayurvedic Nutrition with Amadea Morningstar and hormonal health with Dr. Claudia Welch. She is a certified yoga teacher and student of Rod Stryker’s Parayoga.
Kimberly began her career in Ayurveda after using Ayurveda to heal herself from lifelong sinus and digestive issues. Prior to this, she spent years working in social services and mental health, gaining insight into how best support people in helping themselves. Kimberly graduated with honors from Rutgers University with a double major in Sociology and Human Ecology.
What her client’s are saying: "I initially met with Kimberly to receive dietary support during a very stressful time in my life. I was unsure at first what an Ayurvedic Consultant was and how she might help me, but within minutes of meeting with Kimberly I could feel her skill in understanding the many layers of what was happening in my life, combined with a profound lack of judgment, and I was instantly at ease. Over an 8-month period, Kimberly helped me to gradually and joyfully make some key dietary and lifestyle changes that greatly improved my health and well-being, changes which are still part of my life two years later! She has a knack for demystifying the ancient (yet still very applicable) science and art of Ayurveda, and taught me to make ghee (clarified butter) and kitchari (a nourishing dal), which have become weekly rituals that I very much enjoy. It is rare to meet someone with her combination of intuition, sensitivity, experience, and knowledge. I highly recommend working with Kimberly." -- Corva Rose, Former Client