Parnella Rayappan: A Yoga and Ayurveda Teacher who Inspires Holistic Living
"Pursue everything with childlike curiosity & joy" - Savarimuthu Peter Rayappan
My first encounter with Parnella Rayappan was when she delivered some beautifully decorated cupcakes for my daughter's birthday party over a decade ago. Her warm and friendly nature left a lasting impression on me, and I continued to cross paths with her over the years, including at Salsa dancing events. As a social media friend and follower, it was a pleasant surprise to learn that Parnella had become a Yoga and Ayurveda teacher. Her passion for holistic health and wellness was inspiring. Her path to Yoga and Ayurveda influenced my healing path towards that direction.
Parnella's dedication to promoting holistic living and her caring approach to her teachings have made her a highly respected practitioner in the wellness community. Her expertise in Yoga and Ayurveda has helped many individuals achieve their health and wellness goals. In addition, her warm and friendly demeanour continues to make her a favourite among her clients. She deserves a SPOTLIGHT for her work in promoting holistic health and wellness.
What inspired you to become an Ayurveda Teacher? Was there a specific life event that led to your decision to pursue this career path?
To be honest, it was never my intention to become an Ayurveda Teacher or Therapist. At the time, I was looking for a way to spend my first bonus in a rewarding way and I had always been curious about natural remedies and herbal medicine. Although I had considered studying yoga, I didn't feel particularly drawn to it. One day, I decided to do a random search on Google and found that Union Yoga Ayurveda offered an Ayurveda Therapy Foundation Course. Intrigued, I decided to sign up and see what it was all about.
As I progressed through the course under the guidance of my amazing & inspiring teachers, I fell deeply in love with Ayurveda. To my surprise, I quickly became obsessed with Ayurveda. I found the holistic approach to health and wellness fascinating and was amazed by the power of natural remedies to heal the body and mind. I was so inspired by what I was learning that I decided to take up Union Yoga Ayurveda's advanced Therapist Training course. Before I knew it, I had become an Ayurveda Teacher and Therapist myself. Looking back, I never could have imagined that a simple Google search would lead me down this incredible path.
What do you think sets Ayurveda apart from other holistic healing practices? In what ways do you believe you can benefit others as an Ayurveda Teacher?
All holistic healing practices believe in identifying the root cause of an issue, but what sets Ayurveda apart is that it is the Mother of all holistic healing practices. It is the first system of healing that inspired the other systems. With a history dating back 5,000 to 7,000 years, Ayurveda is also the pioneer for surgery and surgical procedures that are still being used till this day. Its principles of balance and harmony between the mind, body, and spirit are just as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago.
As an Ayurveda Educator and forever Student, I feel that it is my duty and responsibility to share the knowledge of the various Ayurveda practices in an easy and accessible way. Unfortunately, Ayurveda has often been marketed as either a luxury spa experience, a very uncomfortable oily experience, or a system that is complicated and only for sick people. However, it is important to understand that the word 'Ayurveda' means Science of Life. So, there is something for everybody. You don't need to be sick to seek Ayurvedic treatments. It is all about how you take care of yourself first by paying attention to what your body needs, whether you are consuming seasonal and freshly prepared food, taking care of your bathroom habits, and getting quality sleep. It all starts with you.
In a world that is increasingly fast-paced and stressful, Ayurveda offers a way to slow down and take care of ourselves. By understanding our unique mind-body constitution or dosha, we can make informed choices about our lifestyle and habits that will help us stay healthy and balanced. Ayurveda teaches us that true health is a state of complete physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and it is achievable for anyone who is willing to take the time to learn and practice its principles.
Can you share your particularly rewarding experiences as an Ayurveda Teacher? How do you tailor your teachings to meet the individual needs of your students? How do you help your students integrate Ayurvedic principles into their daily lives, beyond just the physical practice?
When I have the privilege of teaching a class on Ayurveda, there's nothing more fulfilling than seeing my students have those 'ah-ha' moments that inspire them to learn more and share their newfound knowledge with others. Sure, you can learn about Ayurveda in a classroom, but the true understanding and value of this ancient healing system comes from applying its principles and experiencing the benefits for yourself.
Over the years, I've had the opportunity to teach Ayurveda classes to people from all walks of life, each with their own unique learning style. I always make it a point to observe my students and cater to their individual needs - whether that means giving extra notes, preparing quizzes, or sharing video resources. Above all, I create a safe and supportive environment where everyone can learn at their own pace.
When I teach Ayurveda, it's not about telling my students what to do - it's about empowering them to take control of their own health and well-being. That's why I let them choose which practices resonate with them the most, and give them the time and space to observe the effects of those practices on their body, mind, and spirit. I also encourage them to do a lot of self-study and observe their surroundings, the food they eat, how they feel when they wake up, how their body responds to different emotions etc because Ayurveda encourages us to listen to our bodies and adjust accordingly based on the season, time of day and activity level. So, it is a lot of observation and self-reflection on top of physical practices. You need to experience Ayurveda to understand it and as we all know, experiences take time so having patience is important. Which is a huge lesson on its own!
In my experience, Ayurveda is not something that can be learned overnight. It requires patience, curiosity, and a willingness to try new things. But the rewards are immeasurable - from increased energy and vitality, to better sleep and digestion, to a deeper connection with oneself and the world around us. As an Ayurveda educator and lifelong student, I'm honored to share this wisdom with others and guide them on their own unique path towards optimal health and happiness.
What impact do you hope to make on the world through your work as an Ayurveda Teacher? What challenges do you see in the future of Ayurveda as a profession, and how do you plan to address them?
Personally, I believe that Ayurveda has the potential to transform people's lives. It is a universal system of medicine as well as universal knowledge for cultivating self-love, self-care, and self-trust to live a beautiful life. I hope this knowledge can be accessible to everyone from all walks of life. I hope for Ayurveda to become an everyday tool that people can utilise for their overall well-being.
However, the biggest challenge I see in Ayurveda right now is the oversaturation of information that can often mislead people and discourage them from this beautiful self-care system. As an Ayurveda Educator & Therapist, it can be challenging to see people turning to Ayurveda for quick fixes and instant results, which goes against the very essence of Ayurveda - patience and faith.
Professionally, my role as an Ayurveda educator is to keep sharing knowledge about Ayurveda and to make it accessible and easy to incorporate into people's daily living. While I cannot control people's attitudes towards Ayurveda, I will continue to advocate for its benefits and guide those willing to learn and practice it.
How do you prioritize and care for your mental health while teaching Ayurveda?
As an Ayurveda teacher, I've learned to prioritize my health and well-being by establishing daily routines and self-study practices. I've found that being consistent with these practices has helped me stay grounded and centered, allowing me to better serve my students. While I make it a point to adhere to my routines every day, I also remind myself to be gentle and patient with myself. If I happen to miss a day, I don't beat myself up over it. Instead, I use it as an opportunity to practice self-compassion and understanding.
Another important aspect of maintaining a healthy work-life balance is setting boundaries. I make it a point to only respond to work-related inquiries during work hours and keep my work separate from my personal life. By doing so, I'm able to fully disconnect from work and focus on nurturing my personal relationships and well-being outside of work. When working with clients, I've learned the importance of respecting their boundaries as well and refraining from giving unsolicited advice. By doing so, I'm able to protect my own mental, physical, and emotional well-being while still fulfilling my responsibilities as an Ayurveda teacher.
I've experienced burnout in the past due to putting too much pressure on myself and neglecting my own needs. However, through trial and error, I've learned to delegate tasks, prioritize my health, and filter out unnecessary stressors. As a result, I'm able to conserve my energy and amplify my capabilities as an Ayurveda teacher. By taking care of myself first, I'm better equipped to serve my students and share the transformative power of Ayurveda with others.
Finally, I am deeply grateful to my teachers whom I still turn to for council when I am feeling overwhelmed. Without their guidance and teachings, I would not be where I am today. Whatever successes I have is because of their faith and trust in me and for that, I am truly grateful. Last but not least, I want to thank my family for their support in my very random life pursuits.
Parnella Rayappan is a certified Ayurveda & Yoga Therapist and Educator. She pursued her practice at Union Yoga Ayurveda Singapore under the guidance and tutelage of Dr. Satyam Tripahti. Her role includes the care of patients and training students in the Foundations of Ayurveda & Yoga Therapy. Apart from her work commitments, Parnella serves on the advisory board of Back2Basics, a non-profit organization that provides groceries to underprivileged families in Singapore. Parnella hopes to help people understand the essence of Ayurveda & Yoga through daily, practical application. Whilst it is always intimidating to learn something new, there is something for everyone in Ayurveda & Yoga because these sciences were given to us to live our lives as peacefully and as happily as possible. You don't need expensive clothes or the latest yoga mat to be seen as "practicing Ayurveda or Yoga". You just need to be your True Self.
Instagram handle: @surya.nila.wellness