COIMBATORE: For the last few weeks, Cinzia Catalfamo Akbaraly has been learning about and researching the different herbs used in ayurveda. The founder and president of Madagascar’s Akbaraly Foundation is hoping to take ayurveda to theIndian Ocean island nation.
“I am exploring the possibility of this traditional Indian system being a viable alternative to modern expensive medicines. People there use herbal medicines. ayurveda will not be an alien concept to them,” says Akbaraly, who has been studying ayurveda at Arya Vaidya Pharmacy (AVP) in R S Puram in the city.
Like her, a number of foreigners are coming to Coimbatore to do short-term courses in ayurveda and take the system back to their country. Most of them come to know about ayurveda after reading about it or visiting centres in their countries, and see the scope for a career in the field.
Holger Sehramm from Hawaii in the US says he is thinking of setting up a centre in his hometown once he completes his course here. He is doing a three-month course at AVP. “Many Americans and Japanese come to Hawaii to learn yoga. I learnt yoga there for 10 years but wanted to deepen my knowledge and get an introduction to ayurveda,” he says.
An introduction is what these students get during the courses that run from three to 12 months. “In the given period, we may not be able to teach ayurveda in a comprehensive manner, but we are able to educate them and generate an interest,” says Dr A Rajendra Prasad, assistant director, AVP. “Many of them return to learn more.”
Though they get students from across the world, most are from the US, UK, South Americaand, more recently, Latvia. They also run an ayurveda college that trains people to be fully qualified ayurveda doctors.
Though many countries’ laws may not allow doctors to practice ayurveda, a number of dieticians and nutritionists incorporate ayurvedic practices into their prescriptions. “ayurveda helps allopathic doctors see another perspective in treating patients.
For instance, a western doctor who thinks of conducting a knee replacement surgery may reflect on other options,” he says giving the example of Simone Hunziker, a doctor fromSwitzerland, who came to the centre to learn about ayurveda. “He is now the president of the Swiss ayurveda Medical Academy (SAMA),” Prasad says.
Dr U Indulal, deputy director at AVP, says most students have already done courses in other countries. “They come here when those centres are unable to help them further,” he says.
That’s the reason why Deema Koval has come to Coimbatore all the way from Ukraine to learn ayurveda. “I went to some training centres there, but they what they taught seemed confusing and contradictory. So, I came to India to five years back to learn more about the subject,” says Koval who plans to make a career of it.
Oliver Mulliez who was working in the hospitality industry now wants to start a yoga and ayurveda centre in Paris. He heard about yoga from his wife. “But my wife is a bad teacher,” he smiles. “I am doing a six-month course here,” he says.
Dorian Millich, an architect from Brussels, who is learning ayurveda for eight months, says yoga helped him overcome depression. “Since yoga helped me so much, I wanted to learn more about Indian systems and spread the good I received,” he says.