2 year on your own schedule, entirely online program. Enroll by January 30th.|
Will you be taking the course?
Become an Ayurveda Health Counselor through this 750 hour certificate program that teaches you the fundamentals of natural medicine. Master the art of clinical Ayurveda as you apply practical knowledge of diet, lifestyle, and herbs to lead your clients to new health & vitality. This rigorous course presents the fundamentals of the body from an Ayurvedic perspective. It ensures you have the Ayurvedic training necessary to work independently with clients and establish yourself as a leading professional in the field of integrative health care.
Upon completion of this program you'll be ready to setup your own clinic or work alongside other health professionals, opening up a range of flexible and attractive career options.
The hands-on, convenient format of this program will teach you Ayurveda's unique approach to health so that you will excel offering Ayurveda to your clients. Exercises will supplement presentations to ensure you have a firm grasp of concepts needed to excel in your studies. Exercises are designed to fine-tune your clinical diagnostic skills and treatment plans based on diet, lifestyle and herbs. Your answers to these exercises will be graded and include feedback when needed to improve your acumen and competency.
This at-your-own-pace course takes 2 years to complete. The course is entirely online, and does not require any travel. At a minimum, students must complete at least one module every 2 weeks. Students who complete the program in 2 years should expect to spend 12-14 hours a week in study. Students can opt to complete the program in 3 years as well. In that case students should expect to spend on average 8-10 hours a week in study. As this is a challenging and rewarding program, students must be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time in study to master the materials.
In phase 1 of the program, you will receive presentations on the fundamentals of Ayurveda. Phase 1 presentations will show you how to directly adapt Eastern traditions for a Western audience so your clients can understand, relate to and gain the most benefit from your services.
Students who complete 50 lessons from phase 1 are eligible to begin phase 2, the clinical mentoring phase, starting each October. In phase 2 you will begin seeing clients. Throughout the course you have the option of attending weekly live coaching calls to enhance your learning of the material.
'Fundamentals of Natural Medicine' goes far beyond the basic requirements to give you a solid foundation in Ayurveda's insightful and inspiring approach to health. The Joyful Belly School of Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion designed this program with an additional 150 hours above the minimum 600hr standard for certification as an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, ensuring you receive one of the most comprehensive qualifications available and graduate with complete confidence to begin practicing.
Learning Outcomes of the 750 Hour Program
Expect to be challenged and step into excellence as you learn the skills, knowledge and confidence to apply the basic principles of Ayurveda, and to work effectively on treatment teams, bridging the gap between Western and complementary medicine.
Seasoned health professionals and dedicated enthusiasts alike will enjoy the discoveries they will make through this foundational program of Ayurvedic knowledge. By the end of this program you will be able to start your clinical practice as you:
- Begin meeting with clients, offering them diet and lifestyle counseling.
- Start teaching Ayurveda in local hospitals, health & wellness clinics, spas and yoga studios
- Offer Ayurveda alongside existing services you provide as a nurse, medical doctor, nutritionist, yoga teacher, esthetician, or massage therapist.
- Create herb formulas
- Feel confident that you have a solid foundation to apply Ayurvedic principles.
Goal of the Program
What if medical doctors could take one look at a client and immediately understand subtle changes happening in their body - in their liver, kidney, and heart? Through this program you will discover the body from a whole new perspective, using your 5 senses, and gain unique insight in how the body functions as a whole.
By the end of the program you will be able to:
- Assess organ and tissue health in the body of your clients through visual and behavioral cues. You will be able to articulate how imbalances within organs translate to observable signs and symptoms on the surface of your client's body. In a practical, scientific way you will be able to demonstrate Ayurvedic principles to your clients through concrete example.
- Analyze the roots of your clients' imbalances,. Your client will emerge from consultations with you having a whole new understanding of their body and able to navigate health challenges in their diet and lifestyle no matter what their environment and circumstance.
- Improve the quality of life for your clients using Ayurveda's unique application of diet and lifestyle for wellness, offering your clients easy, elegant solutions to improve vitality despite complex health challenges.
Build Your Clinical Practice
- Inspire your client's confidence in you, and the confidence of the medical community, through your ability to articulate Ayurveda's qualitative approach to the body.
- Improve your ability to serve your clients with quality care and ensure successful outcomes.
- Get inspired with new perspectives on your body & nutrition. Rediscover your love of health & wellness.
- Develop qualifications for leadership in your field
What You Get When You Enroll
- Comprehensive presentations covering Ayurvedic philosophy, anatomy, foundational concepts, methods of examination and assessment, treatment approaches, herbs and more!
- Clinical supervision and review for 50 client encounters
- Body awareness exercises to give you a direct experience of the medicinal effects of diet and lifestyle changes introduced through the program.
- Access to qualified teachers and the student body to facilitate your discovery and troubleshoot challenges.
- 750 Hour Certificate of Completion at the Ayurvedic Health Counselor level*. You may also be eligible for additional certifications depending on local laws. In many U.S. states and countries Ayurveda is unregulated so you may be able to practice without board certification.
- Many students will continue their studies in this program by advancing to our 500 hour certificate program Mastering Ayurvedic Digestion & Nutrition.
* Laws vary by state and country. Students are responsible for checking local laws before registering. Ayurveda is an unlicensed profession in the state of North Carolina. This program does not give you a license to practice medicine. A certificate of completion is given to those graduates who successfully complete the program. Please text John at 828-785-8213 if you have questions in this area.
Ayurveda is an advanced, holistic approach to health from ancient India that greatly simplifies your health and well-being.
What makes Ayurveda so powerful and unique is puts your signs and symptoms in perspective, into a framework that includes your whole body, mind, & spiritual life. What does this mean? Usually people make a list of problems they want to address and then try to fix them one by one. Ayurveda takes a step back, analyzes the list as a whole, and looks at how your symptoms are interrelated.
Ayurveda takes a categorical approach, grouping your health problems into meaningful patterns. This has the advantage that, instead of having 20 answers to 20 problems, Ayurveda finds 2-3 elegant solutions that address your problems across the board. Clients who use Ayurveda to heal their body feel less overwhelmed, and more in tune with their body and the rhythms of nature.
Another unique feature of Ayurveda is that it studies your body's reaction to foods. Not the biochemical reaction, which is Western medicine's approach, but your experience of food. In other words, Ayurveda studies how food makes you feel after you swallow it. Most Ayurveda practitioners can talk at length about how your experience of watermelon, for example, might differ from cantaloupe. Ayurveda has a rich vocabulary to help you become aware of how your body reacts to food, so you can select foods that make you feel better.
Altogether, Ayurveda's profound approach makes healing your body simple, natural and graceful - once you know how.
Format of the 750 hour program
The program includes a powerful blend of presentations, educational materials, discussions, interactions with teachers, and guided personal experiments. Each lesson of phase 1 will include 1 to 3 recorded presentations, introducing you to new ways of thinking and understanding health. Presentations will be accompanied by exercises to facilitate your personal discovery process.
During the course you must attend at least 40 live coaching calls. In phase 2, you must attend at least 25 live clinical reviews. The scheduling of these calls will include options convenient for all time zones globally.
To meet course standards, your Ayurvedic training must complete 50 clinical encounters by the end of the program. To meet these requirements, you will be asked to do 1) consultations with other students in the program, and 2) consultations with clients. You will be asked to present your clinical findings to a clinical supervisor, and in our live clinical sessions.
You will also be invited to participate in an online discussion group, so that communication with the group and teachers is always at your fingertips for the entire duration of the course. Before you start the program, you will have an opportunity to talk with our staff in an orientation so that any questions you have can be answered.
Benefits of an Online Learning e-Course
- Convenient distance learning format
- Study in the comfort of your home or office
- Deeply immerse yourself in the work on your own schedule
- Learn from anywhere in the world, even while on vacation! Miss a coaching call? Since the course is on your own schedule, simply attend next week's call.
- Build your skills & improve your career without having to relocate
- Gain access to professionals located in remote regions
- Find a community of support
- Be part of a new movement in health & transformation years before similar programs are available locally
"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. The time to discuss with fellow students was great." - Cynthia Cox (Massage Therapist, Arkansas)
Presentations include a walk through of all Ayurvedic fundamentals. Lecture content is based upon Ayurvedic literature, our personal clinical experience, and the testimony of our clients. We integrate innovations from other traditions wherever possible, including Chinese medicine, Western medicine, Western herbalism and other modalities such as massage therapy, yoga, and Western psychology. At the end of each lecture you will not only understand the concept but also the mental and emotional patterns associated with it.
A partial overview of topics includes:
Excerpt from the ancient texts showing anatomy and sanskrit.
Sanskrit was the original language of Ayurveda.
At Joyful Belly, we attempt to interpret these ancient texts and present them in a Western context,
both modernizing ancient knowledge and making Ayurveda accessible.
Introduction to Ayurvedic Concepts
These lectures provide an in depth, unique and practical understanding of Ayurveda's foundational concepts such as
- & many more...
Ayurvedic Clinical Assessment
Students will develop keen observation skills and acumen using Ayurvedic methods of trividha pariksha and dashavidha pariksha. Specifically, students will learn diagnosis of:
- Anatomical shape and form
This segment will also cover how to interview and assess the client effectively using the Ayurvedic methods of examination.
Ayurvedic Management of Imbalances
You will learn the Ayurvedic understanding of the disease process (samprapti) as well as a comprehensive list of the causes of disease.
- How to manage doshas, when & how to use herbs
- TCM, Western medicine, Western herbalism & other modalities such as massage therapy, yoga & Western psychology will be used to add insight to managing imbalances
Clinical Mentoring & Preparation
The culmination of the course is your preparation to work with clients. All aspects of meeting with a client including paperwork, intake forms, legal concerns, note taking, structuring a session, following up and keeping records will be covered in phase 1. Students will learn how to take blood pressure & read the pulse and how to use this information clinically.
In phase 2, you will meet with or observe at least 50 clients under supervision of one of our experienced practitioners to apply all of the concepts learned in the program in a real life clinical setting. Supervision will be entirely online.
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 health counselor. Ayurvedic health counselors are, after all, teachers. So we aim to teach you how to teach your clients. We'll instruct you on how to talk about Ayurveda in simple and easy terms your clients can understand. We'll also share the secrets, tips, and practical advice from our clinical practice and give you great sound bites you can use to educate your clients and help them experience their body.
Expect to experience:
- A comprehensive understanding of all Ayurvedic fundamentals
- Practical, simple techniques to alleviate suffering & enhance quality of life
- Moments of discovery about your own body
- Results-oriented insight into the body and patterns of imbalance
- Challenging & transformative ways to support health & wellness, as well as remedy imbalances
- Clinical supervision & review for 50 client encounters
Phase 1 will be spent studying the foundational concepts of Ayurveda. Phase 2 will bring in engaging and practical clinical review where you will apply the material learned from pre-recorded lectures, driving home the essential practice of Ayurveda and 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.
Expect to be challenged, heard, valued, encouraged and supported throughout your development in the course, not only by teachers and staff, but also by other students. Each student will experience powerful and transforming growth.
Homework exercises will greatly facilitate your integration of course material by allowing you practical application of concepts, a key component to your full comprehension of this subject. Assignments and tests are graded pass/fail and are given in a supportive, non-competitive spirit of learning.
Your certificate will be awarded at the end of the program, contingent upon attendance and completion of assignments. You must complete the entire program within 3 years. For an additional fee, students can lengthen the program to four years.
Demographics of the student body
Students who enroll are nutritionists, nurses, yoga teachers and enthusiastic individuals who have been inspired by Ayurveda. Some students will be herbalists, Chinese medicine practitioners, and medical doctors. We aim to select, among applicants, those students who have the discipline and motivation to excel in the field of Ayurveda. To be accepted for admission, students will submit their application within two weeks after registering.
Student discounts are provided to encourage your learning & discovery from the moment you register. A limited number of work study positions are available to qualified students to reduce tuition.
- Half price consultations with John Immel
- Half price access to most workshops offered by Joyful Belly
- 15% discounts on most products from the Joyful Belly Store
|"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
Drawing on years of research and clinical experience specializing in digestive disorders, John Immel directs the Joyful Belly Institute's educational programs. He is the founder of Joyful Belly, an educational Ayurvedic healthcare 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 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 Style
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 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..
Comments from students in our 500 Hour certificate program
"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." - Marilyn Parker (Ayurvedic Practitioner, Florida)
"I loved the course, especially the development of felt senses, practical experiences offered, and herbal remedies. I was amazed by my experiences. John, you have a fabulous way of getting folks like me to think differently and I am deeply grateful for what I have learned from you." - Susan Buck (Student, Connecticut)
"I have gotten so much out of this. I feel a bit emotional about it coming to an end! I'd love to stay in touch and keep learning from all the wise folk here" - Bel Steer (Yoga Instructor, Australia)
"I have really loved my experience in this program and have learned so much that I can take with me anywhere. I feel honored to have been a part of this program and there are so many amazing practitioners and aspiring practitioners here. I'm really excited for more learning! John, you have really brought heart and meaning to ayurveda in this program. It shows that you really love it and care." - Kate Empey (Student, Utah)
"Thank you! All! I feel that the wealth of knowledge I have seen here is huge and feel that this is more of a beginning than a parting. I feel that this is a forum and platform for collaboration and much more shared knowledge." - Andrea Karahalios (Yoga Instructor, Florida)
I'm grateful for the experience and feel that I am coming away with a deeper understanding of Ayurveda. I hope to continue with this path. - Ashley David (Herbalist, West Virginia)
Commonly Asked Questions
Will I be a practitioner after graduating?
Upon graduating, Joyful Belly will award you a 750 Hour Certificate of Completion at the Ayurvedic Health Counselor level*. Ayurveda is still an unlicensed field in most U.S. states. Even those of who have counselor 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?
Here is the scope of practice for Ayurvedic Health Counselors: Ayurvedic Health Counselors are competent in health promotion and disease prevention. They utilize the principles of Ayurvedic medicine to create diet and lifestyle recommendations according to their assessment of the patient's Ayurvedic constitution and imbalances. After the completion of academic study they have Ayurvedic clinical experience (supervised clinical practice) including a minimum of 50 patient encounters. They educate, motivate and counsel patients in order to support them to be successful in implementing the principles of Ayurveda into their lives. Ayurvedic Counselors refer patients whose disease stage (samprapti) is beyond the third stage to Ayurvedic Practitioners or Doctors of Ayurveda for diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Are there any prerequisites?
There are no prerequisites to enroll in this course. Students seeking certification by 3rd party organizations may be required to take 6 college credits of Anatomy & Physiology (approx 90 hours) before, during, or after the course is over. See Anatomy & Physiology I
(labs not required).
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:
- Marilyn: Working with clients in one on one consultations
- Susan: Teaches digestive health at a local university
- Sheryl: Offers cleanse retreats integrating digestive health with yoga
- Michaela: Cooks for celebrities as a yacht chef
- Shweta: Advocates for policy change at hospitals
- Kim: Integrates Ayurveda into quality of life care as a nurse
- Erin: Applies Ayurveda to mental health work via the gut/brain connection
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.
Alternative medicine frequently includes alternative spirituality. Will these be a part of this course?
We have seen everything from vedic astrology to energy medicine and quantum mechanics falsely lumped under the umbrella of Ayurveda. This has alienated clients with mainstream religious beliefs. It has impeded Ayurveda's valuable medical insights from acceptance by a wider audience. The well intentioned merging of different medical and spiritual theories into Ayurveda naturally leads clients to question, "What exactly is Ayurveda?".
Active religious life is scientifically proven to increase happiness, and health. Weekly participation in religious community increases life expectancy by as much as 10 years. This medical fact can seem to justify adding any spiritual belief into one's alternative health practice.
Instead, we aim to provide an authentic Ayurvedic education. We strive to avoid the above confusion about Ayurveda and to ensure Ayurveda's appeal to a broad audience. Thus, we have kept our main focus on the medical application of Ayurveda, which is Ayurveda's greatest value.
From time to time, individual teachers may include their personal spiritual viewpoint as an ancillary. We hope that this will contribute to the richness of the program. All the while, we recognize that some spiritual beliefs have the potential to do more harm than good to the client. Spiritual direction requires deeper evaluation than this course can provide. Thus, we caution our students against the casual adoption of spiritual fads under the name of Ayurveda.
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. 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 health.
Can I study on my own schedule?
Yes, you can do the work on your own schedule. However, you must complete at least 1 module every two weeks, unless you have been granted an extension. Youmust attend a minimum of 40 coaching calls and 25 live consultation reviews.
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 granted on a case by case basis.
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, you can take the course on your own schedule. This course is designed for the busy professional, is family friendly, and quality of life focused, with the flexibility to complete the course in 3 or even 4 years if needed. Our school and coaching call schedule includes breaks for all major holidays, as well as winter, spring and summer break.
Will there be enough mentoring / support?
Coaching calls will supplement your self-paced learning during phase 1. Additionally, exercises will be graded and include feedback when needed to improve acumen and student competency. During phase 2, live clinical encounters with clients will ensure all students meet our high academic and clinical standards. The Facebook group also provides an opportunity to voice questions and concerns. Teachers are also available by appointment to address any concerns or questions you might have.
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 and a limited number of work study positions for qualified individuals. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
What if I can't take the course next year, will you offer it again?
THis is an on your own schedule course. You can begin phase 1 of the course at any time that works for you. To be eligible for graduation in 2020, you must be enrolled by November 7th.
Still have questions?
Click the maybe button below for instructions on how to setup an inquiry appointment.
Requirements for Admission
Our student body is one of the greatest assets of this program. Primarily, we accept students who are determined to succeed and make a good name for Ayurveda. 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!
Students from all professional and cultural backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
Equipment Requirement: Students must have a laptop or a desktop computer, a webcam, a headset, and, a reliable internet access with internet speeds upto 3.1 Mbps - 6 Mbps to participate in the distant learning online course. This will help the student keep up with class communications and access to research and study resources. In addition, students must have basic computer skills including word processing. Students do not need to buy or download any software. However, students may be required to download a FREE APP to login to live classes via their computer, smartphone or tablet.
How to Register
Currently, we are accepting applications for the 2019 program. The self paced phase 1 starts the day you register. 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. 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.
See details below for registration options. Once you register, you'll receive participation instructions over email. Throughout the program, you'll receive notices to guide you through each step. You'll also have an opportunity to ask questions via the Facebook group.
Please text John at 828-785-8213 or e-mail us any questions/concerns by clicking the MAYBE button below.
Will you be taking the course?