Ayurveda Training Programs and Requirements

Individuals interested in alternative, holistic medicine often study ayurveda. Ayurveda is an ancient approach to good health, nutrition and well-being. Originating in India, ayurvedic training programs promote the integration of nutrition, herbs and meditation. Ayurveda practitioners acquire skills by completing diploma, undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degree programs.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

Many students choose to study ayurveda in India because the approach is more commonly studied and practiced. Diploma and undergraduate degree programs provide foundational knowledge about ayurveda's three bio-energies, vata (motion), pitta (metabolism) and kapha (growth). Graduate and doctoral degree programs prepare individuals to practice advanced clinical ayurveda.

In the United States, ayurvedic training or degree programs are rare and unregulated. Although ayurvedic schools are required to be approved by the state, there are currently no benchmark accreditation standards in place to authenticate proper curriculum or ayurvedic teaching methods. The National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) recognizes and lists these state-approved schools and is working to establish accreditation standards, professional competency and educational and ethics standards.

Individuals in the U.S. might consider premedical, physiology or human anatomy degree programs. These degree programs are coupled with specialized ayurvedic courses and lead to a career in ayurveda. Students can also pursue traditional medical degree programs and take specialized courses in holistic, alternative medicine.

Formal Education

Ayurvedic training programs blend ancient knowledge with holistic modalities to promote balance within the three bio-energies. They also train students to conduct patient interviews, develop personalized treatment plans and offer clinical expertise.

Diploma Programs

Ayurvedic diploma programs offer introductory courses in western anatomy, physiology, yoga, meditation and ayurvedic lifestyle management. Coursework may also include pathophysiology, psychology, nutrition and herbal medicine.

Students learn how to integrate the use of herbs, nutrition, meditation, yoga and aromatherapy to promote and maintain clients' holistic lifestyles. They also learn how to assess patients, accommodate body imbalances and develop customized ayurvedic healing regimens. Often graduates are granted the official designation of Ayurvedic Health Educators (A.H.E.).

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Ayurvedic bachelor's degree programs teach students how to recognize bio-energy disturbances and recommend ayurvedic treatments to rebalance these energies. Students take courses in healing herbs, panchakarma therapy and chromatics.

Additional coursework may include ayurvedic patient constitution, bio-energies harmonization, health, diet, nutrition and herbal oil cures. Upon completion, practitioners may become certified as Clinical Ayurvedic Therapists (C.A.T.), Clinical Ayurvedic Herbalists (C.A.H.) or Clinical Ayurvedic Herbalist Specialists (C.A.H.S.).

Master's Degree Programs

Graduate degree programs in ayurveda offer comprehensive education and clinical expertise. This program blends classroom coursework with hands-on clinical training. Students study ayurvedic medical theories, client diagnosis procedures, ayurvedic philosophy and common ayurveda treatment modalities.

Students also take courses in constitutional analysis, herbal medicine, yoga, nutrition and rejuvenation therapies. Many graduate degree programs in ayurveda require students to complete internships, externships and theses. Sometimes graduates certify as Master Ayurvedic Herbalists (M.A.H.) upon completion of this degree program.

Ph.D. Programs

Doctorate degree programs in ayurveda prepare individuals for careers as practitioners and scholars. Most degree programs combine intensive clinical training with advanced research and statistical methods.

Coursework involves bio-energetic medicine, biophysics, ayurvedic anatomy, ayurvedic internal medicine and abnormal psychology. Students also take courses in ayurvedic herbal medicine, pediatric ayurveda, ayurvedic ear, eye, nose and throat treatments and statistics. Students defend doctoral dissertations prior to graduation. Graduates are certified as Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine (D.Ay.).

Job Experience

Many degree programs blend coursework with actual hands-on ayurvedic healing. These supervised experiences provide students with practical experiences prior to graduation. Students often work part-time in yoga studios, holistic clinics and health resorts or spas.

Licensing and Certification

Because ayurveda is highly unregulated in the U.S., practitioners are not required to hold state or federal licensure. However, if practitioners choose to combine ayurveda with allopathic medicine, traditional medical licensure is required.

Workshops and Seminars

Ayurvedic schools offer workshops and seminars to professional practitioners and the general public. Many of these workshops emphasize ayurveda's founding principles, lifestyle strategies and clinical techniques. Related disciplines, such as massage therapy or yoga schools, also may offer seminars in ayurveda.

Professional associations, such as the NAMA, sponsor annual ayurvedic conferences for professional practitioners. Past topics include ayurveda and ancient wisdom, global medicine, holistic healthcare and ayurveda yoga.

Additional Professional Development

Ayurvedic practitioners keep abreast of current industry trends and issues through trade journals, such as Light on Ayurveda Journal of Health. Published quarterly by the non-profit organization Light on Ayurveda Education Foundation, the journal offers digital and traditional subscriptions. Foreign trade magazines, such as the International Journal of Ayurveda Research, are also available.

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