India Study Site Provides High-Volume Ayurveda Training

College buildings with mountains in background.

Bastyr University students of ayurvedic medicine will study near India’s snow-capped Himalayas this December as the University establishes its first training site in ayurveda’s native land.

Students in the Master of Science in Ayurvedic Sciences program will spend two weeks at a busy ayurvedic clinic and college in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. They will earn credits attending morning lectures and afternoon observation shifts in a clinic that often sees 1,000 patients a day.

That will provide valuable perspective on how ayurvedic healers provide everyday health care, says ayurveda student Priya Walia.

"I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to further augment my knowledge and training in ayurveda,” she says. “I can’t wait to be fully immersed by receiving lectures, having hands-on experience in the clinic, seeing how the medicine is made, and walking the herb fields near the Himalayas. I’ll finally be able to see how ayurveda is practiced in its home.”

The externship will take place at Rajiv Gandhi Government Post Graduate Ayurvedic College, a government-supported college and clinic in the town of Paprola. Students will stay at the retreat center of Shailinder Sodhi, ND (‘93), a Bastyr alumnus and instructor who will lead the trip.

Dr. Sodhi, who runs the ayurvedic products company Ayush Herbs with several family members, played a key role in arranging the externship program. As a native of Himachal Pradesh and a longtime instructor at Bastyr, he understood how the setting could show students how ayurveda is integrated into everyday health care.

“We are very excited about this program, as it allows Bastyr students to get training in ayurvedic medicine in real situations in India, where ayurveda is a long practiced and recognized medicine,” he said in a news release.

Connections Across India

Timothy C. Callahan, PhD, Bastyr’s senior vice president and provost, recently spent two weeks in India arranging partnerships with the ayurvedic college and several health centers in India that students may visit in the coming years. He was pleased with the eagerness of colleges and retreat centers to work with Bastyr.

“One of the most gratifying things was how excited people were that Bastyr had chosen them as a partner,” he says.

Bastyr’s ayurveda program launched in fall 2013, training health care practitioners in a complete system of health care whose name means “science of life.” Ayurvedic medicine, which dates back thousands of years, seeks to cultivate wellness by looking at a patient's entire life — diet, exercise, sleep, thought habits, social relationships and other elements. Healers evaluate a patient’s constitutional make-up, or "Prakruti," and possible imbalances, seeking to restore a healthful balance.

The two-year program will graduate its first class in spring 2015.

New Pathways to Program

Recent changes make Bastyr’s ayurveda program available to a broader range of health care practitioners and students training to become one. Along with medical doctors (MDs), naturopathic doctors (NDs), osteopathic doctors, acupuncturists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, physical therapists or physician’s assistants, the program is now open to anyone with a “license to touch,” such as nurses, (RNs and CNAs), licensed massage practitioners (LMPs), or anyone in a program to become one.

That change will help Bastyr meet the demand for trained practitioners of a rapidly growing, prevention-oriented form of health care.

"Bastyr wants to be a world leader in natural medicine," says Dr. Callahan. "That means we have to look at all the world's important medicines.

"There are a lot of people in the United States who visit acupuncturists or chiropractors who thought they never would. Ayurvedic wellness counselors and health practitioners will become much more common in the near future."

For more information, please contact the Bastyr Office of Admissions at 425.602.3330 or ayurvedadvise@basyr.edu or apply online.

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