Become a digestive health coach and a leader in integrative health care by enrolling in this 500 hour online course in Ayurvedic digestion and nutrition. This 1 year online program starts Oct 10th, 2023.
Class starts in 7 days!
Learning Outcomes of the 500 Hour ProgramSeasoned Ayurvedic practitioners, health professionals, and dedicated enthusiasts alike will enjoy the discoveries they will make through this specialized program in integrative Ayurvedic digestion & nutrition. Through this Ayurveda certification program you will:
About the CourseBecome a digestive health coach and a leader in integrative health care. Enhance your clinical skills in digestive health to the point of mastery through this Ayurveda certification program. Through this 500 hour online course you'll build confidence in your ability to improve gut health and wellness using food and herbs as medicine. This rigorous Ayurveda course uses a hands-on approach so that you experience the knowledge directly. The material you learn in this Ayurveda training program can be used to improve your career and clinical skills in digestive health.
"As far as the course, it has been an eye opening experience for me, as a pediatric gastroenterologist...There is so much that I have been doing as an allopathic physician for the past 22 years and wished that I had stepped in to Ayurveda sooner. It's not too late however...As I grasp the Ayurvedic concept, understanding why, how and what should be done has become easier and I am enjoying that very much. Thank you!!"
Tuition & Financial AidTotal tuition & application fees for this 1 year Ayurvedic course if you register now will be $4,499.
Click here to apply for a partial scholarship. Financial aid is offered based on income. Scholarships may not be combined with other discounts.
For complete tuition & fee information, please see our course catalog. Application / registration fees are non-refundable unless your application is denied.
Goal of the Program
By the end of the program:
Build Your Clinical Practice
What You Get When You Enroll
North Carolina School License
The Joyful Belly School of Ayurveda has provided advanced clinical training for Ayurvedic professionals since 2008. We are licensed to teach Ayurveda by the state of North Carolina, and accredited through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP). We partner with the American Association of Biocharacteristics Clinicians (AABC) to support our graduates' clinical success in Ayurveda (Why AABC?). We are a member school of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG). Joyful Belly is also recognized by the National Association of Ayurveda Schools and Colleges (NAASC), and the Association of Ayurvedic Professionals of North America (AAPNA). Our founder, John Immel, is the current president of NAASC.
Joyful Belly will issue you a 500 Hour Certificate of Completion as an Ayurvedic Nutrition & Digestive Health Coach. This certificate enables you to legally see clients as an Ayurvedic digestive health coach. Students are also eligible for certification through 1) AABC as a Ayurveda / Biocharacteristics Digestive Health Coach, 2) AADP as a health coach after passing their board level exam, and 3) AAPNA as an Ayurvedic Food & Nutrition Consultant (if you have an additional 500 hours of training in a health related field yoga, massage, nursing, etc.). You may be eligible for additional certifications depending on local laws.
* Laws vary by state and country. Ayurveda is an unlicensed profession in the United States, which means that Ayurveda is not regulated by any organization or agency. By the end of the program, you will be legally able to see clients in the United States. A certificate of completion is given to those graduates who successfully complete the program. This program does not give you a license to practice medicine. Please text John at 828-785-8213 if you have questions in this area.
Why focus on digestion & food?
Digestion is relevant to many, if not all, your clients' lives. Why? Digestion nourishes blood, the blood that feeds your body. You can't nourish your organs without healthy blood. You can't nourish blood without healthy digestion and a healthy diet. On the other hand, indigestion and poor food choices create fermentation & toxicity which weakens your entire body. Poor quality food choices lead to poor quality blood and organ health. That's why, for over 5,000 years, Ayurveda has believed that diet and digestion is the first step to health.
This Ayurvedic course offers answers to seemingly baffling digestive disorders, such as IBS. Unlike other medical traditions, IBS offers a favorable prognosis in Ayurveda. The key to IBS is identifying the underlying imbalance, a skill you build each day in the program. You will learn how to penetrate through to the root of digestive tract disorders, from simple disorders such as constipation, to more complex problems such as how to restore appetite after chemotherapy.
As we explained above, when there is a problem with your intestines, it creates a problem in your whole body. Fortunately, your intestines are modified skin and just like skin, your gut has the capacity to heal quickly. However, even though healing digestion is theoretically easy, the reality can be tricky. Ayurveda has a 5,000 year old approach to navigate the tricky situations that arise in restoring gut health.
Format of the 500 hour program
The program includes a powerful blend of presentations, discussions, interactions, and guided personal experiments. Each week will start with 1 to 2 pre-recorded presentations, about an hour long each, introducing you to new ways of thinking and understanding digestive health. Presentations will be accompanied by exercises, case studies and food experiments to facilitate your personal discovery process. Then you will attend 3 live hour long classes weekly including: 1) a question & answer session discussing the presentation, 2) an in depth review of a case study related to the disorder, and 3) sharing the results of food and body awareness exercises.
All live classes & discussions will be recorded for those who are unable to attend. You will also be invited to participate in an online Facebook discussion group, so that communication with the group and teachers is always at your fingertips.
Benefits of an Online Learning e-Course
"I can soon say I am a survivor of an online course. I was very skeptical! But the content was excellent. The basic format of weekly lecture and study group meetings was brilliant. I wish I could have done both study groups. The time to discuss with fellow students was great." - Cynthia Cox (Massage Therapist, Arkansas)
Digestive Tract Pathology (31 lectures total)These lectures include a week-by-week walk through disorders of the digestive tract. This portion of the program will cover the Ayurvedic approach to all major digestive tract disorders from bad breath to hemorrhoids. A partial overview of topics includes
Theoretical Foundations (31 lectures total)
We aim to take a complex topic and make it easy. In fact, we believe the ability to simplify without losing any rigor is an essential skill of any practitioner. Ayurvedic practitioners are, after all, teachers. So we aim to teach you how to teach your clients. We'll teach you how to talk about digestion in simple & easy terms your clients can understand. We'll also show you the secrets, tips, and practical advice from our clinical practice. And, give you great sound bites you can use to educate your clients & help them experience their body.
Expect to experience:
Live DiscussionsEngaging and practical live discussions will enhance the material learned from pre-recorded lectures, improve your body awareness, and drive home the essential practice of food as medicine. You are encouraged to ask questions and share your experiences in these discussions. Group participation is one of the most powerful aspects of this program. It's not often that a group of dedicated professionals have a chance to meet together weekly. We learned something every session, and are sure you will too. Here is just a brief list of value added discoveries you will receive from other student professionals:
Exercises included with each lectureRecommended food and body awareness exercises will greatly facilitate your awareness of your own digestion, a key component to your mastery of this subject. Assignments and tests are graded pass/fail and are given in a supportive, non-competitive spirit of learning.
Demographics of the student body
Half of all students who enroll are Ayurvedic practitioners. Others are nutritionists, nurses, yoga teachers and other professionals. Some students will be herbalists, Chinese medicine practitioners, and medical doctors. We welcome anyone from a healthcare related profession who wants to improve their practice by mastering integrative digestive health & wellness. Under certain conditions, we also accept individuals who do not have a professional healthcare related practice. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions in this area.
Student discounts are provided to encourage your learning & discovery from the moment you register.
"This was a great feat to turn strangers into friends over the internet. This has been an amazing group of people to listen and learn from. The course has made me dig deep. John your ability to keep me on task and make me laugh is amazing. Gratitude to all." - Sheryl Edsall (Yoga Studio Owner, New Jersey)
About John Immel
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 he could help others. He sought a way introduce Ayurveda to his Appalachian mountain home and the broader American public. This was the genesis of Joyful Belly. Using ingredients familiar from his childhood, John created Joyful Belly to recast Ayurveda in the context of our American food traditions. Joyful Belly proves Ayurveda is accessible and necessary for everyday health & wellness. His simple, practical and familiar approach has helped thousands on their journey to health.
John's love of life, his commitment to the health & dignity of the person, and his humanitarian pursuit of inexpensive health care comes from his Catholic roots and identity. His creativity in the kitchen, and absolute dedication to the epicurean delight of eating come from his Italian heritage. He is fluent in Bengali and French, and enjoys studying Sanskrit & Arabic. In addition to his passion for Ayurveda, John enjoys spending time with his family and studying scripture, two activities which he believes are essential to any health and wellness counselor.
John's Teaching StyleAs 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 journeys I have witnessed 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!
Teaching has been a vocation for me since a very young age, and I have taught at various institutions from Harvard University to my home town. As a student of six languages, I am heavily invested in developing my communication and presentation skills, a core skill of any good teacher. Despite my ability to speak as an authority on the topic of Ayurveda & digestion, I approach the student teacher relationship as a colleague and facilitator, equal to my students, without any illusions of personal grandeur. My approach is not didactic, but inspirational and engaging. I enjoy asking questions as much as giving answers, and recognize that leadership often means giving you the space and freedom you need to draw your own conclusions, with guidance. As much as I love narrating a good story to an audience, I also strive learn from my students, and await full of suspense to hear your insights about Ayurveda!
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 the learning process. This enthusiasm is the true source of my confidence. Why am I so enthusiastic? Where does the boundless energy I offer for teaching 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!
What people are saying..
Meet Our Graduates
"I just wanted to personally thank both of you for the awesome program you guys put on and for the fantastic information you've provided. This program was above and beyond what I expected and opened my eyes to a whole new world of medicine, I still consider myself a beginner in this field but wanted to thank you both for all that you've done!"
Physical Therapist / Trainer - Yuba city, CA
"I am Thankful and Grateful for you and the creation of Joyful Belly and the MID program. You have a stellar group of teachers, yourself included and I feel truly blessed to have been lead down this path as part of my journey. I will share and have shared the information of Joyful Belly with others that may be seeking this path or any other classes or help in healing you have to offer."
Other Health / Wellness Professional - Canfield, OH
"Everything that I have experienced made so much sense in my body and in my mind."
Pacific grove, CA
"I have a success story that I just had to share. Last week a man came to see me ready to change his diet. He has a history of excess alcohol/liver heat, excess weight (not a lot but more than he would like), a lot of cold in the GI tract, dry colon with inflammation, lincoln log stools which sometimes purge yellow stools after doing yoga. He also has a history of indigestion with acid reflux which the doctor gave him Nexim for.
The Nexium did not help at all which he told his doctor, but the doctor insisted he keep taking it.
I gave him a vata/kapha diet with no solid foods after 2pm. Lemon/honey/ginger drink in the morning plus CCF tea during the day, I asked him to use certain spices in his cooking and practice mula bhanda to help with the stress he has been feeling. That's all, no herbs.
I spoke with him today and he is feeling fabulous. He said that he is feeling a warm heat throughout his body that he hasn't felt in a very long time. His bowels started to regulate very quickly and his body is starting to sweat during yoga which doesn't usually happen. He has lost a lot of weight, is feeling much lighter, more energetic, and his ankle is starting to heal itself.
If I had not taken the joyful belly course I would not have known that acid reflux can be caused by indigestion/lack of fire. I would have assumed that with his liver being hot that his stomach was too acidic as well and I would not have understood why his bowel movements were alternating.
I would have been nervous to treat him and likely would have treated him similar to the doctor instead of treating his case as having too much cold.
I am in tears at having helped someone and hearing the excitement in this man's voice from how good he feels. He's coming back next week for another consultation"
Ayurvedic Healer -
"Before I sleep tonight, I just want to share my gratitude for being a student at Joyful Belly. to be able to learn from you is an opportunity of a lifetime. I never knew one could feel so connected in an online course. Quite an amazing journey, and thank you to all the classmates for sharing each week, i'm sure I will be re listening to our lectures nostalgically in the future so I hope everyone knows how appreciated they are."
Ayurvedic Healer -
"I am so glad I finally bit the bullet and did the MID course. I have been wanting to deepen my understanding of Ayurveda for years but decided to do a 2-year course in Nutrition Science & Practice first. Boy that was a mistake! It was only after completing the MID course, that I feel truly confident that I can support any client in improving their health, even those with a very complex medical history, with the very simple yet highly effective Ayurvedic principles and practices I learned during this course."
Nutritionist - York, AL
"I came into the Joyful Belly Master of Digestion program with many years of knowledge and passion surrounding nutrition, health and wellness. I wanted to elevate my holistic health knowledge to a higher level. I never realized how much I would be getting out of this program. From a broader perspective, my understanding of holistic health has in fact reached the deeper level I aspired to. The program enriched my understanding of what many of us are struggling with on a day to day basis. I also understand more about how to help myself and others reach more of our short and long term health goals. I came out at the end of this program with more knowledge then I could have ever believed possible in such a short amount of time. I am extremely grateful for the experience."
Ayurvedic Healer - Los angeles, CA
"The course has been one of the best "gifts" I have ever gifted myself, as in the past I have had a complicated, not so healthy relationship with food. Iíve often said to myself, if I could overcome this one obstacle, I could rule the world. My biggest inspiration comes simply from listening to the stories of the diverse voices on the lectures, both students and instructors. My second inspiration comes from implementing the concepts into my daily life. Thank you once again for accepting me at last minute. I appreciate you."
Yoga Instructor - Shallowater, TX
"After listening to the Enzyme Deficiencies lecture I made up the banana, lime and coconut water smoothie for my elderly client who is always complaining about dry mouth. Her doctors have tried prescribing her everything under the sun. She reported today that she LOVES the smoothie and how much it's helping her mouth! THANK YOU John Joseph Immel for sharing your knowledge and this course! I cringe at the stuff they have her taking for her digestive issues and she's so frustrated because nothing is helping her."
Ayurvedic Healer -
"These were so helpful. Even as a practitioner this was not something that I had a lot of experience coming into the class and the things I discovered during these exercises were amazing."
"First of all I would just like to say that I am LOVING this course. It's so interesting and applicable for someone who suffers from digestive discomfort. I have already felt a shift after implementing very simple changes."
Yoga Instructor - Cape town,
"I ate salads every day until I took this class. Thatís when I totally stopped until now in summer and swtiched to soups which were literally HEAVEN for my mind and body. I really never connected the seasons with my eating. I thought seasonal eating was just a marketing catch phrase used by high end restuarants to charge more. Lol"
Ayurvedic Healer -
"I would like just to leave my comment regarding the class given just now. The live consultation was amazing, full of new information and the thought process was very useful! I have been loving all the classes, but I would like to stand out this class today and share my gratitude with Jessica, it really made a big difference for me today."
"My diet is completely changed, Iíve lost 35#, I have a much healthier view of life and my place in it.."
Ayurvedic Healer -
"The class, has brought a certain calm to me, I have experienced my mental warrior energy, where as before this iíve only experienced my physical warrior energy. To absorb this information is a lot for a 24 year old to take in but the fact that I gave it my best, showed me what I am truly capable of and I am seeing the outcome of giving your all to something you dreamed about doing. I feel strengthened, and motivated to see the world and my part in it in through a more experienced lens. Iíve learned how to balance, school, relationships, work, and play in a whole new way. I have a deeper respect for teachers, and think that we have been spoiled to have such knowledgeable and nurturing teachers to learn from, couldnít thank the Joyful belly team enough."
Ayurvedic Healer -
Commonly Asked Questions
What if I have no prior experience in complementary medicine?Our approach to learning is very practical and experiential. Many of our students have no prior experience with Ayurveda and are successful in the program. The supplemental lectures each week lay the foundation for grasping Ayurveda's main concepts and the main lecture introduces a specific pathology. The program weaves Western science, TCM and Ayurveda together in a unique way - creating a picture of understanding that no one has seen before. The weekly exercises allow you to experience what this complimentary form of medicine feels like - what it actually does in your body - so that your understanding of the subject matter grows intuitively as well.
Is this the program too advanced for me?Prospective students often wonder if this course will be too advanced for them. That is rarely the case. In our clinical approach, simplicity is the most valuable accomplishment of any practitioner. Ayurveda always reaches into the heart of the end user, offering clear concise communication without the jargon of other healing modalities. That's why the greatest Ayurvedic practitioners are also the best communicators, who know how to present the material in simple, direct way that both inspires the client and is easy to understand. We hope you will find the material readily accessible, feel inspired by our simple approach, and use it to connect with your clients on a foundational level.
What do people do after they graduate?Our graduates use the program to advance in their current careers as well as into a new and a diverse array of professional settings. Here are just some examples:
Should I get my beginner's level Ayurveda training before the Master's Program?Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, all those who wish to specialize in diet, nutrition and digestion will find this course rich in new perspectives and engaging content. Since we present the content in language even your clients can understand, a background in Ayurveda is not required to enroll. Many health professionals take our program instead of basic Ayurvedic training because they want to master digestion & nutrition, instead of studying to be a generalist.
Will I be a practitioner after graduating?You will be certified as an Ayurvedic nutrition and digestion health coach through Joyful Belly. You may also be eligible for additional certifications through AAPNA.
Ayurveda is still an unlicensed field in most U.S. states. Even those of who have practitioner status are still only educators in the eyes of the law. Only a qualified, licensed medical doctor can diagnose, prescribe or treat disease. Legally, you will be able listen to people's health concerns and educate them on the Ayurvedic perspective and approach to those concerns including diet, lifestyle and herbs. Please seek legal advice if you have questions about your scope of practice after graduating.
What is the scope of practice?Your certification through AAPNA as a 'food consultant' allows you to recommend food to balance vital energy in the digestive system, and use Ayurvedic principles to correct imbalanced doshas and gunas in the digestive tract. Ayurveda is an unregulated and unlicensed profession in the state of North Carolina.
You will be bound by any existing licenses you have. For example, massage practitioners will not be able to offer Ayurvedic wellness tips during a massage session as this will violate their massage license. Instead, your client will have to sign up for a separate, Ayurvedic session. Please check with your certifying body and state on limitations of using your certification in your existing practice.
What is the basis of the research? What is the source of the course material and how do you verify accuracy of material learned?The lectures have been developed from primary and secondary sources - pubmed studies, wikipedia, the classic texts of Ayurveda, and the opinions of Ayurvedic experts. Individual teachers frequently innovate based upon their clinical and personal experience, as well as the individual needs of the client. Ayurveda, like Chinese medicine, is not a research based science but an ancient tradition. Although there have been more studies conducted in recent years, many perspectives you will learn in the course have not been researched or approved by the FDA. Instead, your clients will have to assess any Ayurvedic recommendations you give them to determine their suitability and appropriateness for personal use. Client's individual constitutions and needs do not always conform to statistical norms, even in a western medical context. Ayurveda's highly individual approach offers flexibility that science cannot when it comes to working with and assessing the unique imbalances of the client.
I have been trained in the western medical system, will this course be accessible to me?One of the things that makes our program unique and accessible to all is that we teach Ayurveda from an experiential point of view, instead of a mystical one, only. Ayurveda does have an energetic understanding of the body, but it's different from energy medicine. What you learn in the program are concepts that you can experience in your body. You learn the foundation of Ayurveda's ancient wisdom and then experience it directly creating cause and effect connections akin to the scientific method as well as intuitive understanding. Our students from Western medical backgrounds find this creates a more robust understanding of health and healing for them.
Will the course include herbs?Yes, you will learn many of the most effective herbs in supporting digestive health. Part of each week's homework assignment will entail creating an herb formula and you will have access to a reference sheet on how to do that.
Can I go at my own pace?There is a certain amount of work that must be completed by the end of each week in order to earn your certification and keep up with the program. However, within the week you can do the work on your own schedule. We understand that life events may prevent you, from time to time, completing assignments on time and have a policy to accommodate you. Extensions are generally granted if requested at least two weeks in advance. You are also given a certain number of unexcused absences and late homeworks for unexpected schedule changes.
What if I have a busy job, a rambunctious 2 year old? Can I still take the program if I have to take a leave of absence for several weeks?Yes. This course is designed for the busy professional, is family friendly, and quality of life focused. Granted there are assignments that must be submitted each week, but you design your own schedule. Breaks will give you ample holiday and vacation time with family. Our liberal extension policy gives you the freedom you need to enjoy life while you develop your professional skills.
Will there enough mentoring / support?Your homework will be graded with comments each week to help steer you in the right direction. The 3 live weekly lectures and Facebook group also provide an opportunity to voice questions and concerns. We will walk you through the steps of your thesis writing - providing feedback and guidance on everything from developing your topic, to drafting your outline and each phase of paper writing. Weekly office hours are available to address any concerns or questions you might have.
Does this course include writing a thesis?Yes. The mere mention of writing a thesis strikes fear into the hearts of many students. We're aware that you may not have written an essay since high school, or that, for international students, English may not be your first language. Fear not! We will guide you through every step of the process. Most students are very proud of their thesis by the end of the course and surprised to discover the value of their accomplishment far exceeded their expectation.
The thesis writing process is broken down into 5 phases so that your paper evolves step by step throughout the course. Initially you choose a topic, then you develop an outline, then you follow through by submitting your paper in stages. Each stage is a bite size chunk of the whole project so that your thesis develops organically - allbeit with hard work and focus.
While writing a thesis may sound daunting, but it's really an exercise of delving into what excites you most. It's an opportunity to personalize the course as well. You will be able to choose a topic relevant to your personal health, the health of a loved one, or your family. Writing a thesis helps you specialize in some aspect of digestive health, which makes your skills more marketable.
Do you offer scholarships or other payment options?Rather than offering scholarships to a select few, we have opted for a competitively priced program accessible to all. Although we cannot offer scholarships, we do offer payment plans. Please contact email@example.com for details.
What if I can't take the course next year, will you offer it again?We offer the course beginning every October. Space is limited, so it's best to register early.
Still have questions?Click the maybe button below for instructions on how to setup an inquiry appointment.
How to Register and ParticipateOnce you register with your deposit, you'll receive participation instructions over email. Throughout the program, you'll receive weekly instructions to guide you through each step. You'll also have an opportunity to ask questions during group discussions each week.
Requirements for AdmissionOur student body is one of the greatest assets of this program. Primarily, we accept students who are determined to succeed with the aptitude to help clients. We screen for students who are self-motivated, disciplined, and excited to participate. That's why we created a demanding program - gear up for excellence!
Some professional experience in a health and wellness related field is required. Your field could be massage therapy, yoga, herbalism, a medical degree, or perhaps you are an Ayurveda practitioner. If you do not have professional experience, you may still be accepted if you can demonstrate your commitment to earnest self study prior to enrollment. Although we welcome students who have demonstrated academic excellence, we also value body awareness, emotional intelligence, and sharp instincts along with book knowledge.
Currently, we are still accepting applications for this year's program. There is no deadline for application, however we expect the program will be filled to capacity, and applications are considered on a first come, first served basis.
Payment Plan & RefundsWhen you sign up, you will be enrolled in a monthly payment plan to spread out your payments, unless you choose to pay the balance up front. You can save an additional $250 by paying tuition in full before the first day of class. We follow the North Carolina policy for refunds, detailed in our course catalog. You will receive a full refund if for any reason your application is denied.
Please text John at 828-785-8213 or e-mail us any questions/concerns by clicking the MAYBE button below.