Ayurveda is needed in the modern world, which lacks a personal approach to food and environment. Such a personal approach helps individuals relate to food and food's effect on health. While modern medicine is on our side, the growing rate of chronic yet preventable diseases like diabetes, obesity, and IBS suggests that the medical world might need some of Ayurveda's insights for everyday health. Although Ayurveda is gaining popularity, there are sadly too few practitioners to fill this important role in society.
When you decide to become an Ayurveda practitioner, you are making a choice to serve others and help them to be healthy. You are also making an important investment with lifelong personal benefits and growth opportunities. As you consider your options, certain questions might arise. For example, what will your life be like as a practitioner? How do practitioners support themselves financially? These and other questions are frequent ones asked by applicants in Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda. The answers to these questions can help you make an informed decision about starting your Ayurveda career.
Will I make enough money to support a family?Ayurveda, like many professions, is not a guarantee of employment. It is simply a skillset you can use to improve a person's quality of life (including your own). Developing your professional skills, including client communication, marketing skills and your ability to present yourself will have a strong impact on your financial success. Most Ayurvedic practitioners are in private practice, and have a business plan to help them promote their services. They give consultations, teach seminars, write books, and sell products as their primary sources of income. Other practitioners serve in a wide variety of contexts including in integrative medicine practices, at spas, with estheticians, massage therapists and yoga teachers.
Will I be respected as an Ayurveda practitioner?A common concern we hear is this: "a doctor friend of mine says Ayurveda is just another fad, and a hoax." Granted, Ayurveda may be exotic and new to Western civilization. Yet, Ayurveda has served nearly an entire continent (South Asia) as a primary system of health care for over 5,000 years, much like Chinese Medicine. Ayurveda has a different way of thinking about health and wellness, which seems foreign to many who are familiar with a western model of medicine. The diversity Ayurveda offers is an asset, not a detraction from the western model. Its time-tested approach proves its effectiveness across generations. Modern medical science, though impressive and life-saving, can benefit from Ayurveda's 5,000 year old heritage. This revered science, still practiced today in India, proves that Ayurveda is more than a fad diet. Huge shifts in western medicine have brought ancient health systems like Ayurveda to the forefront as doctors become more and more aware of the limitations of statistical based medicine.
What will my family think about my career in Ayurveda?"My family says I am being impulsive and that Ayurveda is a 'phase' I am going through." You might be wondering, "Will they think I'm being impulsive and foolish?"
More often than not, the skepticism of family & friends challenges the authenticity of your interest in Ayurveda, rather than Ayurveda itself. If you are passionate and committed to a life of service to your clients, your skills as a practitioner will grow, and friends and family will come to recognize and appreciate your value in the community. Respect, in Ayurveda as in any other profession, must be earned by your dedication, discipline, and commitment. Most Ayurveda practitioners are called to this profession, not for practical reasons but because they feel compelled and inspired to help others. Instead of asking yourself, will I be respected, ask yourself, "How committed am I to a life of service through Ayurveda?"
When I became an Ayurveda practitioner, my parents were similarly skeptical. They wondered if Ayurveda was an appropriate use of my Harvard degree and the funds they contributed to my university education. My father, at 59, was 40lbs overweight and often complained of feeling tired. A year after studying Ayurveda, I visited my parents for several months, cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for them. My father said he felt, "twenty years younger." He had lost weight, and didn't even realize he was on a diet. Since my father's direct experience of the benefits of Ayurveda, he has promoted Ayurveda among his friends and church community. As they say, the proof is in the pudding.
What are the legal risks to practicing Ayurveda?Ayurveda is an unlicensed profession in most states except for California. No matter what the state, it is illegal to diagnose and treat medical conditions without a proper license. Following a few simple guidelines, however, you can avoid most legal trouble. First and foremost, do not to make wild claims about your ability to heal others. Humility is a virtue even in Ayurveda and you should set realistic expectations and stay within your scope of practice. Secondly, remember that you are an educator, not a doctor. Instruct your clients to research your recommendations and consult their medical doctor before making any changes to their health and wellness plan. Finally, consult a lawyer when drafting your services agreement, or use a boilerplate from a reputable source. These and other guidelines significantly reduce your risk of legal action. Doctors are much more likely to get sued in their lifetime than Ayurvedic practitioners.
What will my life be like as a practitioner?As an ayurveda practitioner you will experience the joy of interacting with people and discovering them on a very personal level, every day of your life. As your explore your clients' health & inner life, they will share their stories, trials and beliefs with you. This window into the life of your client is an exciting opportunity for personal growth, and will lead to many insights benefiting you and your family's personal lives.
Hopefully, these considerations have shed light on your own decision to choose Ayurveda as a vocation and career. Once you've made your decision to practice Ayurveda, you'll also decide how to apply your Ayurveda knowledge within the profession itself. There are numerous options. Will you make herb formulas, provide consultations, or be a teacher? Will you commit to a single ailment like multiple sclerosis, to a part of the body such as the nervous system, or to a group of individuals such as athletes?
To decide, ask yourself how your unique skills and calling will help you serve the needs of your chosen community. With your passion, and this level of direction, you'll go far.
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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. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. 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.
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