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December 2017 Newsletter of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association

Dear @@first_name@@

Our board and staff would like to wish you each an excellent holiday season and our sincerest wishes for peace, joy, and happiness throughout the upcoming year. We hope you can celebrate with loved ones in whatever fashion you may choose. Enjoy this month's E-news, next year we will be offering a different form of communication with our members, stay tuned in our 2018 emails for these changes.

Warm Wishes,

NAMA Board and Staff









The what’s and why’s of Āyurvedic Yoga Therapy
By Arun Deva

Āyurvedic Yoga Therapist is a new add-on category for NAMA practitioners: AYT-NAMA. Back in 2009 NAMA had presciently decided to determine what exactly such a title represented and what level of qualifications would enable one to officially earn such recognition, considering that it involves the term “Āyurveda.” Even as of now, Āyurvedic yoga therapist, as a term, continues to be loosely applied to students of weeklong courses!

As a chair of the sub-committee of the Standards Committee committed to figuring this out, I found us spending a little over five years doing so. It did not happen overnight.

The first thing we realized is that the practitioner would have to be highly skilled in three, usually separate, fields: Āyurveda, Yoga and Yoga Therapy. For more on this, click here. In other words, this honestly did mean something special in the conjoining of yoga and Āyurveda. For the longest time, yoga has championed Āyurveda in the west. So much of the support needed to bring it into the consciousness of the west came from practitioners of yoga and yoga studios.

I remember the first time introducing Āyurveda to a yoga studio here in Los Angeles, back in 2000. Students came knowing nothing but curious to find out what this “sister science” had to offer. For the most part, they loved it!
Back in 2009 NAMA realized that if there was to be a category of Āyurvedic yoga therapy, it should be crafted skillfully, thoughtfully and be worthy of recognition as such. One of the questions that it faced was if this was to be a new field of practice or a reinvention of the wheel.

Over time, I have argued for both perspectives in various articles and talks, including to the yoga therapy community at three separate SYTAR Conferences (see below). The concept of yoga as therapy reaches far back into our ancient texts (see below). The idea of linking it with Ayurveda also can be found in obscure but telling comments in some of these texts, there was not any apparent field of yoga as therapy nor was there any well-documented pieces of training in it. The more I studied with different teachers, the more I realized how deeply embedded in the yoga and Āyurveda fields there existed cross-referencing.

With no practice manuals and only subtle hints to go on, the committee decided we would have to start from scratch. And thus after much debate, we did indeed conclude that it would be imperative for such a practitioner to be well skilled in Āyurveda, Yoga and Yoga Therapy. All three.

For Āyurveda, we chose the level of Āyurvedic Health Counselor (AHC) as sufficient. There would have to be some further training in the diagnosis of the stages of disease as understood in Āyurveda, but not necessarily the extensive training in protocols to address them. The practitioner would, of course, fill this needed protocol with yoga and yoga therapy but as seen through the eyes of Āyurveda and folded into the Āyurvedic concepts of daily living, lifestyle practices and dietary protocols (dinacharya, swasthavrtta and āhāra) All basic concepts included in the training of an AHC.

For yoga and yoga therapy we did not have to look far for guidance. The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) was already hard at work on defining a Yoga Therapist (since completed).

Realizing the number of hours of study that could and did practically add up as crossovers, we still needed to focus on the integration. For it would not be sufficient to know separately, however well, the two fields of yoga and Āyurveda. It would also not be about pigeonholing (and thus forcing) specific postures into the trinity of vāta, pitta, kapha, which I have always felt is nothing more than reaching and reducing VPK into fixed concepts rather than fluid metabolic interconnections. Each dosha can affect the other just as wind, fire, and water are never separately interacting without certain calamity.

As we move on with turning into practice the published curriculum guidelines (see below), I would like to offer some thoughts on how we may approach the practical training needed to integrate the two sciences. The below are my thoughts on the subject, and I encourage those schools interested in teaching AYT’s and students interested in becoming AYT’s to look over them as I believe they offer a new paradigm in which the integration of yoga and Āyurveda is based upon the compatibility of the two sciences in their practical applications. Indeed, I would venture to say that it would be like mixing river water with salty sea water and getting an integrated new substance: the ocean.

Integration could involve training that substitutes kriya/āsana/ prānāyāma /mudra/bandhā/japā and more, for aushadhi/abhhyangam/dhārā and more. And it could include finding ways to use kriya/āsana/ prānāyāma /mudra/bandha/japā along with aushadhi/abhhyangam/dhārā.

All of this must be done while making sure it fits comfortably into and supports the lifestyle and dietary guidelines of Ayurveda. In either case, the commonality remains that both yoga therapy and Āyurveda only treat according to the principles of individuality. There cannot be a single treatment for a disease. Both sciences accept the premise that the individual is of primary concern and not the condition. Both sciences talk about preserving and increasing prāņa as the primary objective of treatment. Sometimes this means freeing blocked prāņa. Sometimes it means directing prāņa back into its proper channels. Sometimes it means using herbs, and sometimes it could mean using prānāyāma or kriya. And sometimes it could mean using both together skillfully.

In all such cases, without proper training and understanding of how the two fields can work interactively, we do not have integration.

The newly added AYT-NAMA practitioner level now needs schools to implement teaching it. For such schools to exist, there must exist teachers who are accepted as having the necessary skills for teaching the curriculum, especially in the area of integration. To create such a teacher, the Standards Committee took our sub-committees recommendations to begin Grandfathering these unique professionals.

The grandfathering period is now underway. There are two pathways open. Both require a minimum entry level of AHC. We naturally encourage AP and AD levels also to apply. As to the differences in the two pathways, that would be in your training in yoga therapy. Pathway One invites all AHC (and higher) practitioners who also have earned the title of C-IAYT from International Association of Yoga Therapists.  They can send in 3 case studies that show the proper integration of the two fields in the application. Upon appropriate review to ensure integration is indeed understood and practiced, they are approved. The second invites those AHC (and higher) with over ten years of yoga practice (to include five continuous years of yoga as therapy application), including over 50 one on one encounters, to also submit 3 case studies coming up to the same standards of integration.

For additional information:
Definitions and Scope of Practice for Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy (AYT-NAMA)
AYT-NAMA: Educational Outline for Competency

To access Grandfathering Pathway, please sign into your account." to the application page.

•    An excellent historical archiving of the tradition of yoga therapy including its interconnection with Ayurveda can be found here: Therapeutic References in Traditional Yoga Texts. Edited by Dr. Manmath M. Gharote, Dr. Vijaykant Jha, Dr. Parimal Devnath. The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India) 2015.

•    In all diseases, the skillful physician should carefully administer treatment according to the methods prescribed by the science of medicine (Āyurveda) and also administer yogic treatment. Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā.

•    Agñiveśa listens, physicians are of two kinds – the superior who promotes prāņa and thus destroys diseases (rōga) and the inferior, who pursues rōga (disease) and therefore destroys prana. Caraka Samhita.

Arun Deva is a NAMA Professional Member, Certified Āyurvedic Practitioner Certified Vinyāsā Krama teacher and C-IAYT.





Reminder of credits due December 31, 2017 for all Professional Members who joined as Professional Members before July 1, 2016

  • Submit credits you have taken since 2015 for non-listed continuing education courses in Ayurveda, yoga or jyotish you've taken since 2015.
  • Submit up to 30% of your credits from Other Topics in Wellness.
Click here to learn more about the PACE requirements and how to earn and submit your credits.


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