By Aparna Amy Lewis, Lineage Educator
Acharya Shunya has been teaching authentic Ayurveda, Yoga, and Advaita Vedanta for over two decades. In that time, she’s touched the lives of countless students of all levels. Today I’m talking with Vimala Brady, Acharya Shunya’s longtime student and the Assistant Teacher for the Alchemy Through Ayurveda program. I sat down with Vimala to ask her about her experiences first as a client, student, practitioner, and now Teacher of Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya.
A: Welcome! For our growing global community, can you introduce yourself and share how you came to study with Acharya Shunya?
V: Hello, my name is Vimala. I started off as Acharya Shunya ji’s client in 2004/2005. At the time I was in graduate school studying Holistic Health. I finished and thought “Oh, I’m so done with school!” But I so enjoyed working with Shunya ji, and I loved Ayurveda. So when she said she was going to open a school, I was right there ready to go! I’ve been studying with her since she started Vedika Global [in 2008].
A: You and I were students together at Vedika Global studying clinical Ayurveda. Even in our first year, Acharya Shunya brought Yoga and Advaita Vedanta teachings into our studies. What has been your experience of these three Vedic sciences?
V: Well initially the focus was really on Ayurveda, and she would occasionally bring in Yoga Psychology or Vedanta. They were like gold nuggets that we clung to because we didn’t get them that often. The more I understood each of the sister sciences, the more I realized they have to be folded in on top of each other continually to make it whole.
A: You originally found Acharya Shunya for help with a health concern. Do you remember what your experience was like that prompted you to learn more?
V: Well my experience as Shunya ji’s client was less about Ayurveda. She really did more Vedic counseling. I had just been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I wasn’t having a lot of physical symptoms, but I was really emotionally, psychologically traumatized. She really helped me understand and find a place for it in my life. Ayurveda, I feel, really helps me with my body and helps me balance Vata, which has been my big imbalance. But really where the healing, and where I’ve benefited the most from, is with Advaita Vedanta. It's been the underlying groundwork. It just took me a while to realize that’s really what I was yearning for.
A: What specifically did you find was most beneficial about the Vedanta teachings, and how did that help you on your healing journey?
V: It certainly helped me with acceptance – for who I am, and whatever is happening in my life in the moment. It helped me to not take myself so seriously, which was a huge relief! I took myself so seriously. Then to realize I was so insignificant- it just lifted such a huge weight. Just this feeling that I’m part of a bigger whole. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that, but something about the way Acharya Shunya teaches Vedanta, it gave a context.
A: I reached out to you originally because I’ve been observing the online community study space for active students of the Alchemy Through Ayurveda program. You are the Assistant Teacher for that whole program. I wanted to first say that I really appreciate your teaching voice in that private group. Having known you for many years, getting to watch you evolve is really beautiful. Can you share more about this program?
V: The program is a 1-year course on Ayurveda for self-healing. It is the groundwork and foundation for what Ayurveda is about. Then once the students have that after the first few months, they start really learning how to apply the principles: seasonally, daily, with diet and lifestyle. There are also some modules that are included for Yoga Psychology, which helps them learn to deal with the world. So the course helps students learn how to be a healthier happier version of themselves.
A: What has your experience been like as an Assistant Teacher for all of these students fresh to the science of Ayurveda? Has it helped your own Ayurveda journey?
V: Their enthusiasm is amazing! It reminds me of being a first-year student again. How exciting it is when the information is fresh, and how you want to do it all and try everything. It's really fun to participate in their enthusiasm, and it gets me excited. I can get kind of lazy in doing the same things I know work for me. They get me excited about trying something I haven’t cooked in a while. That is a good thing for me, and I enjoy it! But we all get in our own habits. So it helps me stretch in my own self-care. Also, they ask a lot of great questions, and I end up doing a lot of research: going back through my notes and filling in the gaps of my own knowledge where I’ve lost little pieces of it.
A: Yes! I’ve appreciated the detail of some of the questions you get. We’ve got great students that are coming through the program. I had to question myself, “Wait, how does that work? Let me check!” While reexploring this material as a teacher, is there anything you have found newly beneficial in your life?
V: I think it's mostly reminders of what I’ve learned. I don’t know that I’m learning any new material, but it certainly is reinforcing and deepening for me. Sometimes I go back and listen to one of the modules over again, and I always pick up little bits and fill in those gaps. I’m not bored in any way!
A: As the Assistant Teacher for the program, would you recommend this for students that are brand new to Ayurveda?
V: Yes! It's an excellent program. Some of the students come in with some Ayurveda education, and they really appreciate Shunya ji’s traditional approach. They feel like they’ve had confusing information from different teachers and practitioners. I think they’re feeling the Truth in this tradition and in the groundedness of how Acharya Shunya teaches Ayurveda.
Some of the students are really fresh – so drinking hot water, or following a few recommendations to try and fold into their life feel overwhelming. So it really is a course you can come into at any level. It’s a great course to jump into no matter where you are with Ayurveda.
A: Is there anything you’d like to share about the course for new students that are thinking about joining?
V: I just want to reinforce what an amazing experience it is to learn with Shunya ji. In the course you do get some live time with her, so she keeps a pulse on how the group is progressing and she teaches to that in a retreat every other month.
I see how the students just love hearing her wisdom when it's addressed to them. It really is a rare benefit to get a teacher of her quality, her knowledge, and her lineage to be teaching to you as a group of students. It's really lovely.
A: What 1-3 things do you wish you could tell every human on this planet right now from an ayurvedic perspective that would be a benefit to them?
1) Don’t drink cold drinks
2) Get up early in the morning. Try to get up with the sun.
3) Spend time in Nature.
A: Those are 3 really good things! One final question for you. You mentioned in 2005 you were diagnosed with a severe medical condition (MS), and we’re now 15 years later. You’ve had Ayurveda as a faithful support this whole time. How is your health doing?
V: My health is pretty good! I feel very fortunate to have found Ayurveda. I don’t know where I’d be without it. I just know I am very lucky to have the knowledge and it's very, very supportive for me. It is not such a big present part of my life to have Multiple Sclerosis. It's very much a side issue. In my body and my mind.
A: I love it! Thank you, Vimala, for sharing. This has been really wonderful.
You can learn more about the Alchemy Through Ayurveda program at www.acharyashunya.com/wisdom-school.
Catch up with Acharya Shunya's Advaita Vedanta teachings in her latest book, Sovereign Self.
Acharya Shunya is a globally-recognized spiritual teacher and Vedic lineage-holder who awakens health and consciousness through the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda, Vedanta and Yoga. She is the driving force behind an online wisdom school and worldwide spiritual community, and the author of best-selling book on the Vedic art of mind + body + soul well-being and health, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (Sounds True, 2017) and forthcoming second book with Sounds True to be released in 2020, Sovereign Self. Acharya Shunya is a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and serves as an advisor to the Indian Government in matters pertaining to global integration and cultivation of Ayurveda and Yoga. Receive her free online teachings and browse her current eCourse offerings here or see more about her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel where she holds live Global Satsangs once per month. Study Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya in her online course, Alchemy through Ayurveda.