Written by John Immel,
Online programs such as Joyful Belly are the ideal means of educating Ayurveda students for the following reasons:
Increased Quality. Online learning increases the quality of education by bringing students up close to the subject matter. Best practices for Ayurvedic consultations are considerably easier to teach online. "I can show students a close up of a client's tongue or face online," says Joyful Belly founder John Immel, "In contrast, when I was an Ayurveda student in a traditional classroom setting, I could barely see the client's tongue at all. I sat behind 6 rows of classmates and 25 feet away from the client." With online media, the Joyful Belly school shows closeups of the client's tongue to all students on the screen. The client is not required to stand still with their mouth open for long periods of time for student examination. Thanks to digital technology, even in my in-person clinical practice, I can take pictures of the tongue. And then, I can show these pictures on the computer. The client can see their own tongue and visually understand any problems I am pointing out.
Accessibility to Quality Teachers. Clients in the western world already have a hard time finding local Ayurveda practitioners. There is a shortage of Ayurvedic practitioners and teachers compared to other holistic medical practitioners. In Asheville, North Carolina, for example, there are hundreds of Acupuncturists, but only five or so Ayurvedic practitioners. Some of them are newly graduated and not yet qualified to be teachers. Nearly every region of the country has a large population of nursing educators but very few Ayurveda educators. A high-quality Ayurveda school requires at least five experienced local teachers. Joyful Belly's online education program gives students access to expert Ayurveda teachers no matter where they live.
Reduced Cost. Schools with a large in-person commitment require the student to live close to their school. Few students can travel 2-3 hours or more for a weekend-long workshop. Even fewer can afford the overnight hotel costs. There aren't enough practitioners, teachers or schools to reach every area where students want to learn Ayurveda. Some programs fly in great teachers for a lesson or two. However, these teachers aren't able to stay long enough to mentor the students. Online learning solves this problem
Greater Participation For All. Joyful Belly uses live chat rooms and online blackboards for lessons. Even shy students are able to ask questions in this format. They will not get drowned out by more vocal students. Live online classes provide a safe space of learning for all.
Access to Community. In small towns with less of a wellness community, people have a hard time finding other students on a similar learning journey. In an online program, students can bridge geographical divides. They have a connection to a community of similar individuals with common curiosity and goals
Flexibility Benefits. I learn best from 5 to 8am because I am a morning person. My wife learns best from 8pm to midnight. A person with school-age children might have free time before the kids come home, but no time in the evenings to study. Another person has free time in the evenings. Students can study and review classes at the times that work best for them. They can hit the pause and rewind button to review content - something they cannot do to a live teacher in a traditional classroom setting.
What about the Pulse? Joyful Belly teaches Ayurveda Health Counseling. Ayurveda Health Counselors can't legally touch their clients, even to take their pulse. Touching clients requires a special license. Ayurveda Health Counselors are health coaches and educators to their clients. All of their services can be provided effectively online. Most Ayurvedic practitioners see a large percentage of their clients online as well. As with nutrition, therapy, and life coaching, online programs in Ayurveda can be very effective. Let's move forward to bring Ayurveda to the public. The wave of interest in Ayurveda is building. Let's embrace online education to build a stronger foundation of Ayurveda education in the US. By doing this, we can ensure Ayurveda has the critical mass needed to expand growth everywhere.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John'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. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
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. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.