INFORMATION ON AYURVEDA AND STUDY TRACKS AT THE AAS
Interview with Coen van der Kroon for Light on Ayurveda Journal
The Academy of Ayurvedic Studies, The Netherlands, was founded in 2004 as a subdivision of the European Institute of Vedic Studies in France. This initiative came after a period during which I had been teaching at another Ayurvedic school in the Netherlands for two years. This school ran into its own limitations in terms of professional set up, such as providing a good curriculum as well as study and course materials. I myself have an academic background (with an MA in Classics, the subject of my MA thesis in 1989 being Ancient Hippocratic Gynaecology – with a comparison between ancient Greek and Ayurvedic medicine), and consequently I was very keen on setting up another school with a good, more academic framework. In that way Ayurveda could be served best, according to me, i.e. by providing students with a good and thorough curriculum, with high standard course material and as much as possible contact hours, it should be at its best as a part time 5-year training – for now we facilitate a 3-year Practitioner Training. Maybe within the future it will be more. At the same time my wish for a school was, it to be a place of transformation and healing, not just a place of technical learning. I first explored a possibility of starting the school under the wings of a Dutch school of natural medicine, but they were lacking this last aspect, so I decided that that was not appropriate. Inspired by both my academic background as well as the atmosphere of healing and transformation as I experienced it at the Ayurvedic Institute of Dr. Vasant Lad, where I studied for two years, I founded the Academy of Ayurvedic Studies. The school has grown into a small institute with a lot of varyingly people in the teaching staff as well as many visiting teachers.
The Academy of Ayurvedic Studies offers several programs and courses (all part time): two Ayurvedic Nutrition Diploma Course, three Ayurvedic Massage Diploma Training, various Ayurveda & Yoga Training, a 3 year Ayurvedic Professional Practitioner Training, a Post Graduate Program, Personal Pancha Karma Programs and furthermore Retreats, rich Video-classes and inspirational Seminars. The programs consist of a mixture of classes, in which the intellectual and scientific part as well as the intuitive and transformational part of the students is being addressed. Obligatory subjects in this training are: Philosophy, Sanskrit, Ayurvedic Yoga, Sutra singing, Dravyaguna, Samprapti, Chikitsa, and internships in India at an Ayurvedic Clinic. We regularly invite international Ayurveda experts to come and enrich the whole study experience with short seminars: Dr. Vasant Lad, Dr. David Frawley, Dr. Robert Svoboda, Claudia Welch, Mukunda Stiles, Dr. Sunil Joshi, Atreya Smith, Donald Vanhowten, Chitra Giauque, and others. Our school could be characterized as an personal, intimate, and yet international place of study, learning, healing and transformation in the field of Ayurveda and Yoga.
The founding, running and expanding of the Academy of Ayurvedic Studies has been a positively challenging experience for me. Over the years I saw a community coming into existence, a group of human beings that is committed to Ayurveda and its sister sciences in a way that honours the deeper qualities of life represented by those same sciences. The whole process of an expanding institute – a living organism of teachers, students and other staff – has been rewarding to watch, though sometimes difficult and exhausting to manage. It taught me that ‘good relations’ – in the deepest sense meant by, for example, the Native Americans – amongst everyone involved, are very, very important. It also taught me that Ayurveda dances through the whole process as a living entity, an inspiring deva, with sometimes her very own plans and time schedules! And last but not least, that life is love and love is life, the true core of Ayurveda – simple and straightforward, but sometimes all too challenging to our complex personalities.
My vision for our school is that it will develop into a grown up professional institute, while keeping its feel of family and intimacy, since only in such an environment the soul can blossom. Science is not worth a penny without a soul, and hence this combination is important for Ayurveda to keep blossoming, growing and expanding. Professionalising the school will be an ongoing challenging process in the European field of developments, with many more rules and regulations to come. Good spirit and an Ayurvedic profession taught and practiced with integrity, will be key to steering this process in Europe and elsewhere in an ever positive direction.
Coen van der Kroon