Svastha Āchārya Certified Course

Enrollment for 2018-2019 is now open.

The Svastha Āchārya Certified Course is now considering candidates for enrollment in 2018-2019. Classes begin at the end of August 2018 and run for two semesters, Fall and Spring. This is an accelerated program for professional Āyurvedic education and practical training designed for a scientific Western audience.

For students who do not meet the pre-requirements for Sanskrit, Western Anatomy & Physiology, and Foundations for the study of Āyurvedic medicine listed below, they can enroll in a preparatory semester from January – May 2018.

All candidates for the Svastha Āchārya Certified Course 2018-2019 must pass a 3-hour multiple-choice entrance examination and a personal interview.

About the course

The one-year Svastha Āchārya Certified Course is unique in the current world of professional Āyurvedic education. It provides a deep, thorough study of classical and scientific Āyurveda combined with practical application in both independent and collaborative clinical settings. Certified graduates are prepared to work as primary-level Āyurvedic health providers in a capacity similar to a Nurse Practitioner. Additionally, they are capable of providing supportive management in complex cases through direct collaboration with an Āyurveda Āchārya. This multi-level approach to professional management is the AyurvedaFirst model of sustainable healthcare.

What is a Svastha Āchārya?

Svastha Āchārya (pronounced “swah-stha AH-CHAR-eya”) is a Sanskrit phrase that loosely means “teacher, guide or practitioner of generally healthy individuals.” The term svastha literally means to “be in one’s self, or natural state” and in the context of Āyurveda this natural state is taken as a general, naturally imperfect, constantly fluctuating state of health.

Āchārya refers to a person who is a teacher, guide, or highly-learned person in a particular field or subject. As an Āyurvedic health professional, it indicates someone who has attained certain qualifications and bears the responsibility to guide and support others in various aspects of health maintenance and restoration. A Certified Svastha Āchārya has completed the education and training that enables them to focus on supporting health maintenance over correcting complex imbalance.

Who is this course designed for?

This course is specifically designed for students who want to learn Āyurveda in a holistic, scientific manner and then practice in a collaborative, team-based model. Students who excel in the Svastha Āchārya Certified Course are committed to dedicating time and energy to regular, daily study, memorization, analysis, critical review and group projects. Prior experience in various medical disciplines, sciences, mathematics, languages and other logical subjects may be beneficial.

This course also serves as the common foundation year for any students who want to further their professional Āyurvedic studies and career. Successful completion allows graduates to apply for the Paricharaka and Āyurveda Āchārya levels.

The goal of this course is to produce professionals of the highest caliber who intend to practice Āyurveda as a career. For those seeking a more brief introduction to Āyurveda and its basic principles, especially for personal care and development, please read about our Total Health Tune-up in 12 weeks program.

How was the course developed?

The Svastha Āchārya Certified Course is a unique course in the world of professional Āyurvedic education for several reasons. First, it is firmly rooted in the classical and scientific principles of Āyurveda. It draws from the depth and breadth of a wide range of authentic texts that have served as the standard Āyurvedic Medical compendium for millennia. Some portions of this knowledge continue to provide universal, timeless principles, while others require updating or adjusting based on change in time period, geographical location, culture and other factors. Wherever necessary, this portion of information has been identified and updated to reflect what is appropriate for the current time, people and place. These updates are significant and required to allow the science to be researched, developed and advanced in many cultures globally.

In India, professional education in Āyurveda is currently considered to be the highest level available globally. As a recognized system of medicine with existing infrastructure, Āyurvedic doctors can graduate and become licensed to practice a complete scope including capacities of general physician (Vaidya), surgeon, pediatrician, and several clinical and non-clinical specialties. These equivalent scopes and capacities are not presently available in any Western countries due to legal limitations and restrictions. Yet even with available infrastructure and legal recognition, professional Āyurvedic education in India leaves quite a bit to be desired. The curriculum actually developed in the decades following Indian independence as a secondary system subordinate to Allopathy, and current training continues to reflect the attempts to restructure the classical system into the “superior, modern” system. Even in its home country, professional Āyurvedic education and practice is not designed around the core science.

AyurvedaFirst has put significant research, planning and effort into creating all of its professional Āyurvedic education courses based on the foundation of authentic Āyurveda. The presentation of concepts, train of thought and scientific principles closely mirror what is found in the classics with a modern presentation format. This method of teaching is possible by reorganizing the flow of concepts in a step-by-step, organized fashion that is conducive to a Western-trained mind. The authentic foundation is laid in Semester 1 and reinforced with the classical train of thought in Semester 2. The result is that students and graduates learn to move away from a reductionist mentality into a more expansive, holistic way of thinking that allows them to fully apply principles of a truly holistic, individualized and personalized health system.

How is this different from the Āyurvedic Health Counselor (AHC) and Āyurvedic Practitioner (AP)?

There are several key differences between this course and other levels of professional Āyurvedic education in the west. Here, we focus on presenting concepts by:

  • Using the original, authentic, technical terminology in Sanskrit for naming and identifying concepts
  • Avoiding translating concept names, especially where there are no accurate English equivalents
  • Presenting concepts from multiple classical authors with current research and evidence wherever possible to provide a wider perspective
  • Avoiding “opinion-based” approaches such as “what do you think this means in Āyurveda?” when actual classical references are available
  • Differentiating classical, universal laws of nature from textual scripture that has been affected by political, religious and cultural influences over time
  • Training students on how to read the classics, form questions, analyze critically and apply knowledge
  • Preparing students to be able to work independently within their scope of practice in their local environment with people of the current time
  • Training students to work collaboratively with the Āyurveda Āchārya and Paricharaka in the AyurvedaFirst model of sustainable healthcare and offer multi-level health support in complex cases

The key distinction between the Svastha Āchārya Certified Course and AHC and AP levels is that the Svastha Āchārya is trained to practice scientific Āyurveda within an infrastructure of Āyurvedic healthcare professionals. This educational model is more mature compared to the levels currently recognized by other groups in the west as it incorporates professional training within a network of healthcare providers. AyurvedaFirst is currently working towards taking this model to a fully-standardized level by creating the infrastructure required to operate as a self-governing body.

Course Objectives

The goals and objectives of this course are to train students and produce graduates who are highly competent in their scope of practice. All faculty at AyurvedaFirst strive towards these goals by:

  1. Educating students in a classical and authentic Āyurvedic format
  2. Training students to critically analyze the science of Āyurveda and separate fact from fiction
  3. Teaching students how to apply classical principles to new environments, time periods and cultures
  4. Preparing graduates to work independently and collaboratively
  5. Providing graduates with basic tools, educational materials and direct experience to start practicing in their local community

Course Format

The course is presented using a combination of online collaboration and in-person events. GSuite is used to consolidate all online resources, classes, recordings, and project work. Each student receives an individualized email address @ayurvedafirst.org for course-related communication and to access the online collaboration system.

Our in-person events are structured to make the best use of all students’ time while maintaining high standards for quality education and training. Two mandatory, in-person events are included in this program. The Semester 2 final exam and internship orientation occur around the end of April to the beginning of May at the end of Semester 2. Additionally, the final certification exam occurs in the later half of July. Both events must be attended in full to successfully complete the course.

The primary language of instruction is English (American). Āyurvedic technical terminology in Sanskrit is liberally mixed into spoken and written instructional materials whenever appropriate. This usage helps students become accustomed to the terms and provides confidence in usage.

Online classes, activities and examinations

Each week students are expected to utilize a variety of resources to cover a set lesson plan. Learning resources are provided in a variety of written, audio and visual formats. Weekly lesson plans are designed to break the contents down into approximately 45 minute lessons, with multiple lessons to be completed through independent study each week. Activities include self-quiz questions, critical analysis questions, individual and group projects.

Students are expected to complete assigned lessons prior to each class and be able to present their answers to any assignments during class. Questions related to the lesson plan are always welcome and a culture of group discussion, review and analysis is encouraged to build understanding, cooperation and respect among peers.

Examinations occur at two main times each semester – the mid-term (10th week) and the final (16th, ie, last week). Each of these exams is conducted orally in the online classroom between the student and faculty alone. The student is responsible for all material covered up to that point in the course, in a cumulative fashion. So by the Semester 2 final, the student should expect to be examined in all areas of the complete course. The final determination of pass or fail is at the sole discretion of the examining faculty member(s). This examination method is used in an objective manner by focusing on a preset list of questions and strives to allow the student the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency and competency in memorization and presentation.

The oral method of examination works well for Āyurvedic professional education for several reasons. From a very practical standpoint, it allows each student the opportunity to express their knowledge in a clear, concise manner verbally, especially in a situation where they know they are being put to the test. This challenges each student to be fully competent in the required material and practice their presentation skills. For example, professional practice, clients ask questions expecting appropriate, clear and correct answers. Being ready to provide meaningful, valid and accurate explanations especially in unexpected situations is one of the most important criteria for determining success in real life practice.

Additionally, from the perspective of authenticity, oral examinations have served as a pillar of traditional Āyurvedic education from the earliest times. This is one of the important aspects of the Guru-Śhiṣhya (Teacher-Student) model which is worthy of being maintained in current times. This method allows the teacher to recognize specific strengths and weaknesses in each individual and provide permissible accommodations assuming that the student meets all minimum standards and requirements and they demonstrate competency in all areas of scope. For example, certain students may excel in visual or auditory memory cues, and this method allows each student the flexibility to utilize their strengths in their own way.

Class size and composition

Many students choose the Svastha Āchārya Certified Course for a variety of reasons. All have a healthy respect for the rigor, depth and quality of the education. First-time professional students of Āyurveda are attracted to this course because it allows them the opportunity to learn the science accurately and thoroughly from the start. At the same time, many seasoned students, practitioners and even teachers of Āyurveda find this course extremely valuable to fill in the gaps they’ve invariably experienced in Western-based, new-age educational institutions that fluctuate widely in quality.

The class size is generally around 15 students and the background of students can be widely mixed. With classes of this size, it is easy to interact, discuss and work in small groups to enhance the learning experience. The talents, strengths and variety of skills that our students bring to the group creates a healthy dynamic and respect that encourages peer-cooperation and collaboration in the short and long-term.

Anticipated time commitment

This course generally requires a consistent time commitment of 15 – 25 hours per week. In some cases, this may increase to over 30 hours per week, depending on the individual student, their interest level, eagerness and capacity to learn.

Certain students may find that a lower time commitment is sufficient, especially if they have:

  • Previously studied Āyurveda, especially at the level of Āyurvedic Practitioner
  • Proficiency in Sanskrit, vocabulary, transliteration and spelling
  • A background in another medical discipline with a solid foundation in Western Anatomy & Physiology
  • Recently completed another rigorous educational program successfully
  • Strong memorization skills which are actively practiced

Students who have been away from rigorous education for more than a few years or who find memorization challenging should plan to dedicate at least 25 hours each week to reading, studying and reviewing the material. Additionally, they should plan to enroll in the preparatory semester (January – May 2018) to cover key basic materials. Self-study can be continued over the summer before the course starts when required.

Schedule for 2017-2018

The course officially begins on August 29, 2017. Live classes are held every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 5pm – 7pm (Pacific Time), along with alternate, full-day Saturday classes.

The course is divided into two semesters and followed by a two month internship period. Final certification is held in July 2018.

Semester 1 (Fall/Winter 2018)

*11/3: Mid-term, **12/15: Final

Aug – Sep 2018
Tues Thurs Sat
8/28 8/30 No class
9/4 9/6 9/8
9/11 9/11 No class
9/18 9/20 9/22
9/25 9/27 No class
Oct 2018
Tues Thurs Sat
10/2 10/4 10/6
10/9 10/11 No class
10/16 10/18 10/20
10/23 10/25 No class
10/30
Nov 2018
Tues Thurs Sat
11/1 11/3*
11/6 11/8 No class
11/13 11/15 11/17
11/20 Holiday No class
11/27 11/29
Dec 2018
Tues Thurs Sat
12/1
12/4 12/6 No class
12/11 12/13 12/15**
Break Break Break
Break Break Break

Semester 2 (Winter/Spring 2019)

*3/16: Mid-term, **4/27: Final

Jan 2019
Tues Thurs Sat
Break Break Break
1/8 1/10 No class
1/15 1/17 1/19
1/22 1/24 No class
1/29 1/31
Feb 2019
Tues Thurs Sat
2/2
2/5 2/7 No class
2/12 2/14 2/16
2/19 2/21 No class
2/26 2/28
Mar 2019
Tues Thurs Sat
3/2
3/5 3/7 No class
3/12 3/14 3/16*
3/19 3/21 No class
3/26 3/28 3/30
Apr 2019
Tues Thurs Sat
4/2 4/4 No class
4/9 4/11 4/13
4/16 4/18 No class
4/23 4/25 4/27**

 

Internship

May and June 2019

In-person orientation (mandatory): end of April to early May 2019

During the internship orientation, students will attend daily, hands-on sessions for training in patient interaction and management within their scope. Multiple patient encounters will take place and students will be given the opportunity to observe and practice working within the AyurvedaFirst model of sustainable healthcare. Students will be thoroughly trained in the intake and assessment formats and learn how to appropriately handle cases of various complexities by working directly with an Āyurveda Āchārya. Instruction in all processes also includes online case management and patient tracking so that professionals can continue to work together and collaborate effectively from any distance.

Certification exam

In-person exam (mandatory): July 27 – 30, 2018

The final certification exam must be completed in-person. It will include a variety of components including written, oral and presentation, covering all ten subjects and internship. It is a multi-day examination process.

Instructors

All recorded and live classes for 2018-2019 will be taught by Jessica Vellela, BAMS. As the first American-born woman to become a Vaidya (Āyurvedic Physician) and practice independently in India, Jessica provides genuine, classical instruction in clear, concise English in a format natural for a scientific, Western audience. She spent nearly 8 years in India to complete BAMS (5.5 years) and immediately proceeded to setup her own Pancha Karma center which she ran for 2.5 years providing classical Āyurvedic Medical services to patients from around the world. After returning to the US late in 2013, she continued to practice to the fullest extent possible and has been working diligently to expand authentic Āyurveda in the west. She is strongly committed to making the complete practice of Āyurveda a reality outside of India. She is a major advocate of preventing dilution of the authentic science from subordinating the science to Western integration attempts.

Prior to studying and practicing Āyurveda, Jessica had a successful, 15-year career as a Data Architect. As an early adopter of popular RDBMS systems, she designed, built and managed solutions for a variety of small to large scale organizations, often in the non-profit sector. Her expertise in process automation in both front-end and back-end systems and client interactions is proving its worth in the field of Āyurveda as well.

Time permitting, additional guest lectures are added from a range of experts in Āyurveda, Allopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tibetan Medicine and other modalities.

Pre-requirements

The pre-requirements prepare students to be able to maintain the accelerated pace of the Svastha Āchārya Certified Course. Applicants who do not meet any of the pre-requirements are strongly recommended to begin studying 3 to 6 months before the start date using provided materials so that they will not be overwhelmed by the workload.

The recommended pre-requirements include:

  • Previous study of Āyurveda, especially at an AHC or AP level
  • Previous study of another scientific medical discipline
  • Previous study of Sanskrit, or fluency in multiple languages
  • Basic Western anatomy and physiology
  • Basic biology, chemistry and physics

It is highly recommended that students have at least 3 out of 5 for the 2017-2018 class. For future classes, certain pre-requirements will be mandatory.

Previous study at the AHC or AP level helps students as they will be familiar with some of the basics of Āyurveda. However, prior knowledge has also hindered certain students as they realize that what they’ve learned is not factually accurate in the Āyurvedic classics. In most cases, previous students of Western Āyurvedic programs find that some part of their prior knowledge must be relearned.

Previous study of Sanskrit is beneficial where it includes the Sanskrit alphabet (Devanāgari), transliteration methods, memorization of terminology and technical terms, proper pronunciation methods, and a basic understanding of the written forms of the language. Students in the Svastha Āchārya Certified Course are not expected to memorize the actual Devanagari script, only the transliteration.

Basic Western anatomy and physiology will become a standardized requirement from 2018-2019 onward. For the 2017-2018 class, students may be admitted without this requirement on a contingency. The details and final decision will be made on a case-by-case basis during the admission interview.

Curriculum

The curriculum covers a wide range of classical topics applied in an updated format to create a strong foundation in scientific Āyurveda. Six subjects are covered over the two semesters.

Semester 1:

  • AYU-101 (2 credits): Foundations for study of Āyurvedic Medicine
  • AYU-102 (3 credits): Siddhanta (Core Principles) and Śhārīra (The Study of the Human Body)
  • AYU-103 (3 credits): Svastha vṛtta (Healthy Routines)

Semester 2:

  • AYU-104 (3 credits): Cikitsa I (Foundations of Therapeutic Management)
  • AYU-105 (3 credits): Classical Study I
  • AYU-106 (2 credits): Clinical Practice I

Learning the depth and breadth of the science of Āyurveda can be supported through several teaching methods. We present concepts by starting with their simplest forms and then reiterate by adding more complex layers of information and connections with related concepts. We utilize a circular, repetitive approach to learning by explaining topics in two ways. In Semester 1, we present the concepts in a logical, organized way which is geared toward a Western train of thought. Then in Semester 2, we cover the classics in their original order and train of thought. This repetition allows students to see the same concept from various angles and provides a crucial foundation for handling the multiplicituous nature of the knowledge.

Completion Requirements

To successfully complete the Svastha Āchārya Certified Course, students must:

  1. Pass both final exams in Semester 1 and 2
  2. Regularly demonstrate active participation, engagement and consistent learning
  3. Complete 150 patient encounters

Students who complete these requirements are eligible to take the final certification exam in the second half of July 2019.

Additionally, in order to progress from Semester 1 to Semester 2, each student must successfully pass the Semester 1 final exam. Those who are unable to pass Semester 1 will not be admitted to Semester 2. They will be given the opportunity to restart Semester 1 with the next class of students, with a nominal fee.

Certification

AyurvedaFirst certification strives to demonstrate the gold standard of professional Āyurvedic education and practice. Active professional certification allows one to practice within their scope in the AyurvedaFirst model of sustainable healthcare. Certification is renewable every two years according to current standards and procedures. AyurvedaFirst is also actively preparing a professional organization for members to launch late in 2017.

NOTE: The Svastha Āchārya Certification has no equivalent in other established professional spheres in the west, and therefore is not seeking validation from any third-party organizations at this time. Students who complete the Svastha Āchārya Certification and who wish to register with other groups may apply directly to the group of their choice using their AyurvedaFirst Certification to fulfill requirements.

Scope of practice and competency

Certified graduates will be prepared to work independently and in the team-based, collaborative model of sustainable health care. Independently, the Svastha Āchārya will be able to provide professional guidance, consultations and recommendations on a variety of advice that can influence health based on external and internal factors. In general, the Svastha Āchārya will be restricted to working independently with clients who are already generally healthy. These are individuals who show some signs and symptoms of imbalance which can be attributed mostly to seasonal influence, its corresponding dosha prakopa and sāma conditions if applicable. The Svastha Āchārya will be able to provide services at the individual level and in group educational formats, utilizing a variety of standardized, AyurvedaFirst educational materials.

In complex cases marked by chronicity, prasara and sthana samshraya of the doshas, the Svastha Āchārya will be able to assess the approximate level of severity and make the determination to include an Āyurveda Āchārya for proper management. For the duration of the case, the Svastha Āchārya will be involved and maintain primary contact with the client. They are responsible for guiding the client, answering questions, and helping maintain conformity and adherence to the health management plan. They frequently interact with the Āyurveda Āchārya to keep things on track and assure correct progress. Wherever possible, the Svastha Āchārya also works with the Paricharaka to coordinate appropriate external treatments when facilities are available.

The Svastha Āchārya will have a practical, demonstrable familiarity with all required terminologies and technical terms, including treatment names, methods of Āyurvedic Medical management, formulation names and more. This knowledge will be applied to ensure proper communication with clients at this level of one year of training. To properly be able to manage complex cases, recommend appropriate classical formulations, and apply external treatments and therapies in a safe, efficacious, and complication-free way, additional training is required and can be completed at the levels of Paricharaka and Āyurveda Āchārya. Both of these courses have the Svastha Āchārya course as their pre-requisite.

Admission

Admission for the 2017-2018 class is now open and accepting applications.

Requirements

Applicants must meet the following requirements for admission:

  1. Be at least 19 years of age by August 1, 2018, and provide proof with a government-issued photo ID.
  2. Have a minimum of a high school diploma, GED, or country-specific equivalent. Priority is given to applicants with a focus in sciences, languages or mathematics, those holding a Bachelor’s degree, and those having prior experience in Āyurveda, Sanskrit and/or another scientific medical discipline.
  3. Pass a 3-hour entrance exam for direct admission. Those who do not pass will be required to complete a preparatory semester (January – May 2018).
  4. Complete a one-hour admission interview including oral exam.
  5. Be able to attend two in-person events: late April to early May 2019, and late July 2019 (location TBA).

Photocopies showing proof of age and prior education must be submitted with the online application. Each application will be reviewed and when everything is complete, the admission process will move forward.

Application process

Before applying, please email info@ayurvedafirst.org for more details about the entrance examination availability and scheduling.

Application fee (non-refundable): $50

Applications are currently being accepted and must be received by June 30, 2018. After submitting your application and paying the fee online, expect a response within 3 business days to confirm acceptance of your application and to schedule an entrance examination.

For candidates who are unsure of whether they will pass the entrance exam, please contact AyurvedaFirst as soon as possible. Applications received between January and June 2018 may get deferred for one year if the applicant cannot pass the entrance exam.

Apply now

Step 1:
Complete the application.

Step 2:
Submit the $50 application fee:




Step 3:
Receive confirmation within 3 business days for entrance examination.

Entrance examination

Each applicant must complete a 3 hour entrance examination with a minimum passing score of 60%. The examination covers questions from Western Anatomy & Physiology, introductory Sanskrit, and general questions about English language skills, logic, communication and memorization. The examination is online, multiple-choice, proctored by webcam and microphone, and can only be taken once per applicant. The entrance examination fee is $75.

Tuition

The total tuition for the 2018-2019 Svastha Āchārya Certified Course (excluding the preparatory semester) is $7,000 payable in 4 installments. Each installment is $1750, and payments are due on:

  • confirmation of admission and signing the Student Agreement forms (on or before 7/15/2018)
  • 9/15/2018
  • 12/15/2018
  • 3/15/2019

Payments may be made by check or online with no additional charge through a checking account or debit card. Credit card payments are also accepted with an additional processing charge. Students who withdraw from the course will receive a refund for a pro-rated portion of paid tuition based on the withdrawal date.

Long-term payment plan for merit-based students

For those students who are able to pass the entrance examination and provide an exceptional candidate interview, longer-term payment plans are available to help make quality education more accessible. For the class of 2018-2019, these students will be selected by merit, on a case-by-case basis. The tuition of $7000 remains the same, and no interest will be applied (unless payments are late). The terms of the agreement can be arranged flexibly giving the student up to three years to pay the full amount with regular, on-time payments between $200 to $300 per month. Certification will be available to merit students as soon as they successfully complete the course (minimum 1 year) as long as all payments are on-time. This plan only covers tuition, and does not include application fees, examination fees, books, housing or other costs.

Books and materials

In addition to the textbooks provided by AyurvedaFirst, several classical Āyurvedic texts and other textbook resources are required for this course. The classics are available for purchase through AyurvedaFirst and carry a student discount of 10-20% depending on the title.

Required classical texts
Text Translation by List Price Student Discount
Caraka Samhita, 7 vol. RK Sharma and Bhagawan Dash $199 $169
Ashtanga Hrdayam, 3 vol. Srikantha Murthy $125 $99
Bhava Prakasha, 2 vol. Srikantha Murthy $159 $129

 

Additional required text
Text Editors List Price Student Discount
Modern and Global Ayurveda Frederick M. Smith, Dagmar Wujastyk available through amazon n/a

 

Recommended classical texts (optional)
Text Translation by List Price Student Discount
Susruta Samhita, 3 vol. GD Singhal $199 $169
Ashtanga Sangraha, 3 vol. Srikantha Murthy $199 $169
Bhaishajya Ratnavali, 3 vol. Gyanendra Pandey $199 $179
Madhava Nidana Srikantha Murthy $39 $32

Certification

Final certification will be offered in late July 2019 in person (location TBA). Certification fee will be $400 per attempt. All candidates who successfully pass will become Certified Svastha Āchāryas with certification renewable every two years.

Other expenses

Any additional expenses that are incurred as part of this course are the full responsibility of each student. These may include computer hardware, software, internet access, study supplies, technology-related equipment and all travel-related expenses for attending the in-person events. For the events, AyurvedaFirst will make reasonable efforts to help coordinate convenient travel locations, accommodations, meals, etc based on the majority of the student body.

What are students and professionals saying about the Svastha Āchārya Certified Course?

We’ve received feedback from several students in the Pilot group and from professionals who support the AyurvedaFirst model of sustainable healthcare, education and practice. Here’s what they have to say:

I’ve studied Āyurveda at various levels over the past 17 years: self study, small, introductory programs and one Āyurveda Practitioner certification program. I’ve found the AyurvedaFirst SA program to fulfill my desire to be a student, to be positively challenged and take my learning deeper with exposure to the classical texts. So far, I’ve seen missing pieces of knowledge come together. I am gaining a fuller understanding and feeling more confident in my knowledge and ability to practice Āyurveda more completely. AND, to be honest, I am also seeing how much I still have to learn!

It’s been my experience that when you start with the basics and build a strong foundation, you can, indeed, build whatever you want out of that foundation. Learning the foundation of Āyurveda from the classics, understanding the thought process, having direct experience from the practice and digesting the information properly allows you to then live and practice your Āyurveda. That takes time, energy, dedication and self motivation. Yes, it’s intense. Yes, it’s a lot of reading and memorizing. Yes, you may have to give up other things. But if you find that exhilarating or at least deeply satisfying, then this program is for you. If you have a strong interest in Āyurveda and want to take it beyond the educator level then this Svastha Āchārya program is perfect. Jessica is wonderful at sharing her knowledge and experience as well as being open to discussion. She keeps us on track with creating a foundation of knowledge and regularly reminds us to come back to the basics. I have a deep respect and appreciation for Jessica, the knowledge she has and her ability to teach it to a Western mind.

Linda Rowe, BA, MA, RYT, AP


This program has given me the deeper insight and knowledge of Āyurveda I have been in search of for years.  After being a student and practitioner of Āyurveda in some capacity now for 13 years in the west, I’ve finally found a program that is in depth, challenging, and true to the classical roots of the medicine.  I highly recommend the Svastha Āchārya program to anyone who wishes to learn more about Āyurveda and the Āyurvedic classical texts.  The in-depth nature of the program’s curriculum is like no other in the US.  It is such a treat to read the classics, explore the Sanskrit language, contemplate and assess the medicine in this context with Jessica as a more than capable and clear guide.

Melissa Camacho LAc, DipOM, CAP


Jessica is an amazing teacher and translator of the ancient texts and shows us how we can apply the ancient slokas to our modern world and more specifically toward the climate one is living in.

Julie Wardwell, CAS, LMT


I was asked to be in the pilot course for this new Ayurveda school. It’s legit. It was much harder than Kerala Ayurveda Academy. This program is for sincere students who would like to practice authentic Ayurveda. You won’t find any new age bullshit, bias promotion of vegetarianism, or long stories that do nothing but entertain students.
Sanskrit terms are not avoided, and they must be memorized in proper transliterated form with diacritics. I believe students going on to the second year will be required to read and write Devanagari. The classics are always referenced. Exams are no joke.

Kevin Martin


Thank you, Vd. Jessica for the wonderful introduction to your program. I see how it clearly fills the need in the U.S. to provide quality Āyurvedic health counselors with the necessary education to keep healthy individuals healthy, and also enable them to be coached and counseled by qualified Vaidyas. This will enable them to help others with health challenges they are experiencing, especially chronic health conditions that are not well managed under our current health care system.

If I had not had the opportunity to work in a similar situation with Vaidya R. K. Mishra I would certainly be interested in enrolling in your program. I feel your approach will be a valued game changer in the field of Āyurvedic Education here in the U.S.

Best wishes in your endeavor,
Dr. Mark Vinick, DC, CAS, MRAS

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