Written by John Immel,
Credentials, AccreditationSince 2008, the Joyful Belly School of Ayurveda has provided premium Ayurveda education for clinicians. Joyful Belly is licensed to teach Ayurveda by the state of North Carolina. We are recognized / accredited by the following associations:
NAMA's Opposition to WHO StandardsOur Ayurveda Health Counselor Course was approved by NAMA as of March of 2020. However, we did not accept NAMA recognition because of 1) NAMA;s low clinical standard (the American Herbalists Guild recommends 400 hours of clinical experience), a minimum to ensure safe delivery of Ayurveda to clients, and 2) requirements to teach astrology and other religion-specific beliefs in Ayurveda courses
Teaching astrology in Ayurveda goes against the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), is not in compliance with the Indian ministry of alternative health (AYUSH), and unacceptable to most medical professionals. Additionally, to represent our diverse students and clients, we choose to align with associations that can represent all individuals who wish to participate in the Ayurveda profession, regardless of their cultural or religious identity.
Ayurveda practitioners in India generally resent NAMA's abandonment of classical Ayurveda in the West, and their shift away from research and clinical outcomes towards New Age or miraculous healing.
At Joyful Belly we teach Ayurveda as a medicine alternative with demonstrable clinical outcomes, and support associations who believe the same. We ensure that medicine should be accessible to people of all social groups and faiths. We follow the WHO recommended scope of training, which recognizes Ayurveda's potential to reach a broader audience. The level of training at Joyful Belly far exceeds NAMA's standards for an Ayurveda Health Counselor program, with the exception of religious content that could alienate and isolate students of other faiths. Our graduates are known for this higher level of training.
Educational Freedom for StudentsWe stand with NAASC, an association of Ayurveda schools, in providing competency based education, rejecting any encroachment by NAMA on method of education delivery. This reduces student cost and makes Ayurveda accessible to a wider audience. Assessment of competency is the only valid measure of accreditation.
Legal Status of AyurvedaAyurvedic students can, and most do, legally see clients and practice Ayurveda without joining AAPNA, NAMA, or any of the above mentioned 3rd party associations, because Ayurveda is an unlicensed profession in the United States. Joyful Belly Ayurveda will give you a diploma upon graduation, and you will be able to see clients. Therefore, students should not let associations intimidate them into joining (as is frequently the case with NAMA). Instead join associations that commit to serving their needs and provide demonstrable benefits. The greatest need of students after graduating is clinical support - an area where NAMA continues to underperform as they operate to protect the schools that fund them (not their clinician members).
Find out more about the legal status of Ayurveda here.
In our opinion, schools and practitioners are moving away from NAMA for the following reasons:
We are happy to answer any additional questions students have about the certification process.
Note: None of the certifying bodies in the United States operate internationally.
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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 biocharacteristics. His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda, offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.
John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, as well as 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. Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 6 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.
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