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This is a good page to look at if you are:

  • A spa, healing center, clinic or hospital looking to implement Ayurveda into your facility and would like to be sure that what you will offer will have the best chance of being authentic, safe and appropriate to your facility. You may be interested in being accredited by SA, or simply to offer quality Ayurveda without certification.
  • A consultant, physician, health care practitioner, massage therapist or someone else looking to support a facility to implement Ayurveda.
  • A student of Ayurveda who wants to learn how to offer safe, effective, authentic panchakarma or other Ayurvediya techniques in a practice, spa, clinic or healing center.

We think it will be helpful to first acquaint yourself with the issues we feel an individual or facility needs to address in order to offer safe, effective and authentic Ayurvediya treatments. These are also the criteria you would need to meet for SA certification. Under each consideration, we have offered suggestions of how to begin to implement them. If you feel you could benefit from more education or training in any of these areas, we offer workshops and trainings that you may wish to consider.

Authenticity of treatments
While anyone can claim authenticity of treatment, there are certain time-honored parameters for each of Ayurveda’s treatments, as they have been practiced in India for centuries. Currently it is not uncommon for a practitioner to learn a therapy from someone else who claims it is authentic and to believe that it is, even when that therapy and its intended effect have become substantially diluted. It is common in the West, for example, to call a massage an “abhyanga” even when it differs from a Swedish massage solely in the few Ayurvediya herbs that have been added to the massage oil. Such a massage, though potentially beneficial, cannot be called an abhyanga. On the other hand, even treatments that are not traditionally Ayurvediya can be categorized as such, if they are honestly labeled, advertised and offered in accordance with the theory of Ayurveda. For example, an “Ayurvediya facial” that uses a formula not described in the ancient texts can still qualify as authentic, so long as it is based on principles of Ayurveda. If you are not sure if a certain treatment is authentic, or you want to learn one, there are a couple things you could do :

  • Refer to Panchakarma Illustrated by Dr. G. Shrinivasa Acharya for guiding principles of practice. This does not cover all details, nor does it substitute for in-person training, but is an excellent reference.
  • Have your therapists trained on-site by a practitioner trained and experienced in how Ayurvediya treatments are given in India.
  • Receive training yourself in how to administer treatments as prescribed in Ayurveda.
  • Send your therapists to a program designed to train them in authentic Ayurvediya treatments.

For on-site training or training for yourself or your therapists, you can consult the Resources section of this website.

Qualification and experience of staff, including physicians, practitioners, consultants, therapists
Having skilled and trained practitioners and staff, appropriate to the level of care and services a facility advertises, is essential to preserve the authenticity and reputation of Ayurveda, and to ensure your guests have an optimal experience.
How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Offer trainings for staff commensurate with the level of knowledge and skill they should have to perform their jobs.
  • Hire staff who have received their training in reputable institutions or facilities.

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page

Quality of consultation & documentation
Guests of a facility that offers Ayurveda will either need to receive a consultation by a practitioner or submit sufficient documentation so that their therapists or doctors will be able to direct their treatment appropriately.
How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Have an on-site qualified consultant or physician to consult with guests before they have any of the therapies and maintain the paperwork and records
  • Have sufficiently in-depth questionnaires to provide necessary information to determine appropriate therapies and to maintain records

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page and to our Useful Forms page

Training procedures & standard operating procedures for each treatment
Whether a facility’s staff is trained on or off-site, they need to offer consistent quality treatments.

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Offer on-site trainings and posted standard operating procedures for each treatment
  • Offer off-site trainings and standard operating procedures for each treatment readily available in a 3-ring binder or folder, for staff to refer to when necessary

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page and to our Useful Forms page

Selecting appropriate therapies and products
A guest or patient deserves to receive therapies that are appropriate to their prakruti and vikruti. Either the therapist or a qualified practitioner of Ayurveda needs to be able to accurately assess each guest and recommend or alter certain therapies.

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Have an on-site qualified consultant to meet guests before they have any of the therapies
  • Have guests fill out a form that allows his or her therapists to determine which therapies would be beneficial, contra-indicated and which would need to be altered

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page and to our Useful Forms page

Screening for contra-indications
The focus of most spa treatments is on dosha-pacifying techniques (shamana) rather than on forcibly expelling excess doshas from the body and mind (shodhana), Shodhana techniques are more appropriate for a clinical, medical facility. In either case, contra-indications still apply. Ignoring these can lead to poor outcomes for your guests, for you and for Ayurveda’s reputation.

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Have an Ayurvediya lifestyle & diet consultant, Ayurvediya physician or other qualified Ayurvediya practitioner consult with your guests before they receive their treatments, to evaluate potential contra-indication
  • Have each guest complete certain paperwork that would alert your staff to any contra-indications or concerns that would either disqualify the guest for that treatment, or address the concern through an alteration of the treatmen.

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page and to our Useful Forms page

Authentic Ayurvediya oils and products
Products cannot be authentically Ayurvediya if the actions of their ingredients are unknown. Herbs outside of the pharmacopoeia of Ayurveda can be used in Ayurvediya products only when their properties have been evaluated according to principles of Ayurveda.

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Carry only those products that list all ingredients, or obtain comprehensive ingredient lists from suppliers
  • Create a list of the qualities (rasa, virya, vipaka, gunas) of the ingredients in each product and ensure with a qualified Ayurvediya practitioner that those qualities are likely to have the desired effect: eg. Vata-pacifying, Pitta-pacifying, Kapha-pacifying

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page

Providing and using products that are, whenever possible, organic and environmentally-friendly, and produced in a sustainable manner
As Ayurveda increases in popularity around the world, the demand for Ayurvediya herbs, herbal oils and related products is growing, and some plants (including katuka, jatamansi and sandalwood) have already been over-harvested. To attend to the individual without concern for the welfare of the planet and its species is counter-productive to the essence of Ayurveda’s teachings. Even when organic products are not yet available, it is incumbent upon the facility to demonstrate significant efforts in this direction of procuring and utilizing organic herbs and products whenever possible, even when this makes costs marginally higher.

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Purchase oils, herbs and products only from companies with a clear, demonstrated commitment to supplying organic products grown in a sustainable manner, even when they cost more than those of their competitors
  • Grow their own herbs and make their own products
  • Support environmentally-conscious companies or individual farmers and growers with donations, volunteer services or pledges to purchase a certain amount of product or raw material
  • When purchasing from a company that has not demonstrated a clear commitment to these ideals, inform them clearly that you will be forced to stop using their products unless they are able to demonstrate a practical, measurable commitment to these ideals within a certain period of time
  • Use bio-degradable cleansers for your cleaning process

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page 

Space
Vastu Shastra (the Indian equivalent of Feng-Shui) offers guidelines for creating spaces conducive to healing. A clean, well-ventilated, hygienic space that is conducive to healing and fits well within its environs is an important part of the Ayurveda experience.

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Offer trainings for their staff, commensurate with the level of knowledge and skill they should have to perform their jobs
  • Construct treatment spaces in accordance with the principles of Vastu Shastra or Feng-Shui, and use these principles to remodel spaces that already exist
  • Do not clutter any space with framed pictures, statues or other needless objects
  • Keep the room spotlessly clean

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page

Diet
Though there are many ways to address diet questions, and there are many different views on what is considered to be easily digestible, a facility’s aim should be to provide food that is easily digestible from the perspective of Ayurveda. This generally means simple, freshly cooked meals with few ingredients and no stimulants, and no complicated or heavy foods or drinks. While it might not be possible to force guests to comply with such a diet completely, it is possible to educate them and make it easy for them to know what to eat, as well as making food that is appropriate easily available for them. Even if your Ayurvediya offerings are not designed to be medicinal or deeply therapeutic, Ayurvediya treatments tend to stimulate release of toxins into the digestive tract, temporarily weakening the digestive capacity (agni) until the toxins are eliminated through natural means. It is therefore helpful for your guests to consume a diet that is easily digestible and that supports digestion. If the facility is a walk in, non-residential facility, it may not offer food, but should still offer basic dietary education and recommendation to the guest for a diet that is appropriate to the days following their treatment.

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • If it is a residential facility, offer a separate menu from the general menu, and encourage guests to choose their meals from it. This menu could include classical Indian recipes like kitcheri, or other tasty, light dishes that are nourishing and support digestion. The menu could also include non-Indian dishes like simple vegetable (not tomato or dairy based) soups that are lightly seasoned with mild spices; simple stir-fried or steamed vegetables; whole grains and well-cooked pulses; and the like. Please see our Recipes page for some ideas. Herbal teas and other non-caffeinated warm or room temperature beverages could be offered
  • Offer a separate section of the regular menu dedicated to guests undergoing Ayurvediya treatments
  • Offer concise literature to educate guests about the value of a simple diet while undergoing Ayurvediya treatments
  • Offer a consultation with a qualified Ayurvediya practitioner, to direct the course of a guest’s diet

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page

Calming Lifestyle
To realize the desired effect of their Ayurvediya treatments, guests should not engage in excessive exercise or other extreme physical or mental stimulation.

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Do not keep television sets in the rooms of guests undergoing Ayurvediya treatments
  • Recommend that these guests do not engage in vigorous forms of yoga, aerobics or other strenuous exercise
  • Make gentle activities available that encourage an internal, calming focus, like meditation, restorative yoga, etc.
  • Offer educational literature

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page and to our Useful Forms page

 

Guest Education
Educational support for guests, outlining or supporting appropriate dietary and lifestyle behavior during and after the treatment course, increases the effectiveness of the treatments.

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Have an Ayurvediya lifestyle & diet consultant, Ayurvediya physician or other qualified practitioner of Ayurveda consult with guests before they receive their treatments, to describe the treatments, explain what type of diet, lifestyle and habits may be beneficial during and after treatments
  • Provide handouts or brochures that explain what type of diet, lifestyle and habits may be beneficial during and after treatments
  • Provide books on Ayurveda in your library or gift store. See our list of resources for more ideas on this

To find support to meet this criterion, look to our Resources page and our Useful Forms page

Truth in Advertising
Truthful advertising helps the public begin to learn what authentic, safe Ayurveda is and means. To advertise, for example, that your facility offers Ayurvediya treatments designed for relaxation and restoration when that is what you offer, is probably more honest than describing your facility as offering the most extensive and authentic Ayurvediya treatments or panchakarma in the West. Relaxation and restorative treatments (which generally fall under the “shamana” category) differ significantly from Panchakarma techniques, which generally fall under the “shodhana” category and are medical in nature. Panchakarma or shodhana techniques require qualified, experienced practitioners to prescribe, monitor and provide follow up care. The difference between Panchakarma and relaxation techniques is significant and often poorly understood, and honest, educational advertising can help disseminate accurate information.

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Include educational information in its advertising that describes their treatments as Vata, Pitta or Kapha-pacifying, rather than as a detoxification program, medical program or cleansing program
  • Do not use the term Panchakarma in your advertising unless that is what you are offering

To find support to meet this criterion, or to understand the difference between Panchakarma and relaxation techniques, look to our Resources page, to our Useful Forms page and to our FAQ page

Complying with local laws and regulations
Ensuring that a facility is conducting activities within the parameters of its local laws and regulations is good business. Each therapist should possess the specific license or certificate that will permit them to work on guests, and all advice given to guests that does not come from a medical practitioner who is duly licensed in your jurisdiction should generally be in the form of general education (Eg: In Ayurveda, the symptoms you describe relate to high Vata and Ayurveda would treat high Vata by) rather than in the form of personal diagnosis or recommendations (you have high Vata and should do abhyanga and shirodhara).

How a facility might meet or support this criterion :

  • Know your local governing laws and regulations, have copies of them available in your office and adhere to them.