My Ayurveda & Yoga Story
Greetings, I am Denise and I am a teacher of Ayurveda and Yoga.
I was born in the United States to wonderful parents who were also American born, as were their parents and grandparents. Yet, at age thirteen, I discovered yoga and began my yogic path. A journey that has led me to become a life-long student of the Vedic sciences that originated in India. Through this experience I’ve come to understand that there is perfection in all things. Very early in my experience I came to see I am meant to learn, live, and teach Ayurveda and Yoga in this, the country of my birth.
1969: I was a 13-year-old junior high school student when I noticed a flyer posted at school for a continuing education hatha yoga class. I was instantly intrigued. I brought the flyer home and asked my mom if I could attend. I needed her approval as she would have to drive me to the evening classes. My mom was the most supportive person I have known. She took me to every class.
I loved the class, the esoteric presentation of the candles, the fragrance of incense, the chanting, the asanas and pranayama (it was, after all, 1969.) My daytime social studies classroom was transformed into an evening sanctuary.
I fell in love with hatha yoga. I read every book I could find on yoga. At that time, most of the available books on hatha yoga were written in the 1950’s and had pictures of women practicing in old fashioned leotards. There were also much older books that showed men performing yoga postures and cleansing techniques draped in traditional Indian cloth wraps.
In the years that followed I attended every hatha yoga class I could find. I studied the yogic way of living and eating. I steeped myself in traditional yogic philosophy and studied yoga’s classical eightfold path.
1983: Betty Ernst was one of my most influential hatha yoga teachers. When she told me she was moving, she asked me if I would consider taking over her yoga classes. It never occurred to me to become a yoga teacher. Betty’s confidence in me provoked me to go into concentrated training with her. Betty Ernst set me on my path to teaching hatha yoga. I sought more training and became a student of the United Yoga Institute of New Mexico. I earned a Certified Yoga Instructor diploma in 1985.
Through my years of teaching hatha yoga and my ongoing yogic studies, I found a deep interest in yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda. I loved the way Ayurveda completed my yogic practices as it supported me with harmonizing daily routines, cooking and eating principles, the use of herbs and aromas, and provided me with a greater awareness of my individual needs for personal balance.
2003: The more I learned about Ayurveda, the more I needed to know. I searched for schools. I interviewed teachers and programs. I attended the first NAMA conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida in 2003 and met Jyoti ‘Light’ and Bryan Miller there. I had found my teachers of Ayurveda. Light and Bryan presented Ayurveda in an inspiring way and made clear that you can follow Ayurveda for a lifetime. Light and Bryan taught Ayurveda in a practical manner that made it easy to incorporate in every minute of your day. Light honored me with the name Yashoda Ma. In 2005 I graduated from the Ayurvedic College of Wellbeing, with an Ayurvedic Practitioner diploma. I went further for certification as a Panchakarma Clinical Specialist. My studies continued at Florida Vedic College, where I earned my degree in Vedic Arts in Dhanvantari Ayurveda in 2008.
2005: I began my practice as an Ayurvedic Practitioner. I gave Ayurvedic consultations and taught the principals of Ayurveda to my clients, and in the community. With Ayurveda practitioner added to my other yogic knowledge I felt complete with my professional contributions in the fields of Yoga and Ayurveda, and content that I was on my intended dharmic path.
However, during my years of my practice, my students, clients, and business associates asked me to help them deepen their knowledge of Ayurveda through formal education. Some expressed interest in Ayurveda for personal enrichment, others for the advancement of their professional development. Just as I met the request of my yoga teacher to start teaching yoga, I also felt compelled to meet the request of my students and colleagues to offer them professional training in Ayurveda.
2010: To teach a professional program in Ayurveda, I needed to create a licensed school. The licensing application process for a post-secondary school in the State of Florida is rigorous and detailed. The Florida Academy of Ayurveda earned its approval and license in 2011, then began its first academic year in April 2011. The Florida Academy of Ayurveda is regulated through the State of Florida Center for Independent Education. #4443
At the time of this writing in 2019, my 50-year Vedic journey has provided me with the study, training and experience to pass-it-on to everyone who is seeking personal balance or formal education in Ayurveda.