At the Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes, we host study abroad opportunities as a Point of Difference in our curriculum. Inspire Greatness Aveda Institute students and graduates are able to apply to be accepted to represent the schools during these excursions. In 2016, we visited India for the second time in our study abroad experiences, which over the years has also included Madrid, Berlin, Tokyo, and London.
The obvious question here is why would a beauty school send students to India for a study abroad experience? Let’s back up a bit…
Aveda: The Art and Science of Pure Plant and Flower Essences. Rooted, in Ayurveda, Aveda has been a pioneer in blending the world of beauty with the environment to create inner and outer beauty, balanced in wellness. It was Aveda’s founder, Horst Rechelbacher, that had the vision to change the world by changing the way we do business. After his passing a few years ago, he left a legacy of love behind, reminding us all that love is all there is. Love for the planet and people.
Today, Aveda is able to showcase that it’s rooted in a holistic, healing practice known as Ayurveda, because it’s becoming more understood in the West. Ayurveda has been around for 5,ooo plus years and originated in India as a medical practice focused on energy of the mind, body and being. We are all made of energy and the idea is to create balance through understanding energy. Ayurveda breaks down energy into three categories or doshas known as Vata (Air, Infinity) Pitta (Fire, Water) and Kapaha (Water, Earth). We are all born with a unique dosha blend and through nutrition, yoga, meditation and daily routing (dinacharya), we each have the power to use the medicines of the Earth (plants, herbs) to heal ourselves.
We may know Ayurveda more commonly in the West as “alternative medicine.” Horst spent many years in India studying Ayurveda and realized the great need in bridging the gap between the wellness and beauty industries. Most cosmetics, perfumes, and products were then and are still petroleum-based, synthetic, tested on animals or have toxic ingredients. His vision was clear. The products that make us beautiful should also be healthy for us. Ayurveda is the root of Aveda. In Sanskrit, Aveda translates to mean “knowledge of all things.”
In 1978, the Aveda journey began with the Aveda Mission and the idea that Ayurveda would be an influence in all our products and services. We see this today through our rituals like an energizing scalp massage or relaxing sensory experience. We see it through the plant-powered products and ingredient sourcing from the Earth. We experience it in how our guests FEEL when they leave our salons and spas. We see it in our curriculum and education.
Since 1978, we have worked with Ayurvedic consultants from India to ensure quality and performance of all our products and services. We celebrate that we can offer a Study Abroad Experience to India for our team and students as it brings them in contact with our roots.
One of our esthiology and massage therapy graduates, Grace Henniger, attended as a student along with classmates and members of the Aveda network. Travelers were guided by Inspire Greatness Aveda Institute Operations Director, Karling Cosca, and Aveda tribal elder Helga Hefner, and Sumit and Navneeta Badola. Below, Grace shares some of her thoughts on this life-changing experience.
Q: Why did you apply for this opportunity?
A: I saw what a huge opportunity this would be to learn about Aveda and Ayurveda from where it all began.
Q: What was your favorite part of the experience?
A: Gaining a connection with so many people who started off as strangers and left being a family. We had an amazing group of people. I became good friends with many of them and have a deep love and appreciation for all of them, especially our amazing guides, Helga Hefner, and Sumit and Navneeta Badola. Being with Helga was certainly life changing. She is one of the most beautiful souls I have had the pleasure of meeting, and her wisdom and kindness has changed my life forever. Sumit and Navneeta have become my family, and I will forever appreciate their teachings and blessings.
Q: What was something you didn’t expect to experience?
A: I learned many things about myself on this trip. Mainly I learned that I have control over everything I feel, and any situation can be made into a learning experience; so now I choose to see everything through rose-colored glasses. That’s how I saw the culture in India- everyone lives their lives through their hearts. There’s lots of gratitude and love in their everyday lives, doing daily prayers and blessings. It’s similar to America in the sense that everyone is busy with their work and families, but in India everyone is more present in what they do. That’s one thing that I have brought back with me and hope to share with many people.
Q: What did you learn most during this trip?
A: If you can be in the moment with every moment, then there is more room for joy and appreciation. Especially at the beginning and end of every day. Each day I now try to sit in silence and be grateful. Overall, this was such a life changing and enlightening experience. I feel so blessed to have gone through this as a student, so that as I go into my career I can bring this insight and wisdom to my guests and help transform their lives with light and love.
In the picture shared here from Grace’s Instagram, the caption reads, “Words cannot describe how grateful I am. Watching the sunrise over the Himalayan mountains gave me the deepest feeling of purpose and serenity. I will never forget how magical this moment was. Thank you to everyone who made this happen… namaste.”
Later, an article would be shared about this Study Abroad Experience, telling the story of how the students and Aveda team members re-connected back to the same roots Horst himself started. It was Swami Rama, founder of the Himalayan non-profit hospital who introduced the Indian heritage of yoga and Ayurveda to Aveda founder, Horst. The students learned a deeper understanding of Ayurvedic treatments like Panchkarma, yoga, meditation and the basic principles of Ayurveda.
Another Aveda network member, Naomi Dove (@avedaitgirl) shared her experience through a video she created. Click here to see the video, shared from her Facebook page.
“Six months ago Sue Trondson at Aveda came to Phoenix and told me that I was going to have my best year ever! Five months later, the opportunity came up to apply to study in India with Helga Hefner of AVEDA. I wish the emotion I feel right now could translate to words. Exactly six months later, I’m having my best year ever. Everything in this video is so authentic and relatable to this journey. From the music, the emotion, the creativity, the picture of Horst…the music you hear is a recording from our celebration dinner; the videos you watch are real people from the #ashramlife, and the photos you see are original pictures I was able to take on a real life experience at the original ashram Horst studied at with Swami Rama… I’m so humble.”