IAYB reader and ally, Razielle, participated in Matthew Remski’s recent online Ayurveda course, and she was so inspired by it that she decided to write a review. Here it is!
Now, you may be thinking: “online courses, that sounds cold and disembodied.” But nothing could be further from the truth! Matthew’s online presentations are vividly human and energetic. The setting for Ayurveda Online is informal as Matthew presents from a relaxed seat on his comfy couch, sipping on hot tea. The effect is a lovely and inviting online experience that magically creates virtual coziness and warmth. To borrow a phrase from Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message! Ayurveda Online makes a wealth of otherwise arcane information accessible in an interactive way. Reaching a global village, Ayurveda Online goes far beyond what McLuhan, the grandfather of communications theory, ever dreamed of in the early 1960s, when he first began to question the way we reify our lived experiences through (our then groundbreaking) forms of social media, namely television and radio.
Meticulously crafted and densely inlaid with accessible and digestible material, each lab of the series is bookended with an invocation chanted by Matthew to set the intention and mood of the session. The platform he uses to present is InstantPresenter, which allows for questions from participants, making exchange possible in real time. His genuine, heartfelt and generous responses are individually personalized. Cultivating group dynamics in this way, Matthew connects with and considers everyone present, an international community of people from across Latin America, Canada, USA and Europe. The recordings of the live sessions are archived and available through Matthew’s website as well, and equally capture the magical energy of the live lab.
Rooted in traditional texts, Matthew’s clear and precise presentations draw on the original writings of Charaka Samita and the Vedic manuscripts. As the Sanskrit terms are referenced and explained, he encourages the participants/viewers to repeat the words like a mantra, embedding the sound and meaning as one in our minds as the concepts produce a compelling, automatopeaic sound at once familiar and strange.
Matthew’s insightful commentary and interpretations offer new meaning, making ancient world views relevant to our contemporary ethos. His contribution fosters an attitude of pragmatism and ethical accountability informed by the ideas and ideals found in the Ayurvedic tradition.
The first five labs cover a broad cross section of the human experience ranging from digestion, menstruation, psychological states, as well as interpersonal relationships, daily activities, rituals and practices. Even if relatively familiar with Ayurvedic concepts, viewing Lab 1 of the series first is essential or at least highly beneficial, as the terms in it are well defined and explained and referenced in later modules, making it much simpler to follow. It is also stands on its own as an excellent introduction to Ayurveda for those interested in learning about the system itself before delving into more specialized topics.
The series as a whole offers a full-bodied approach to learning, and could even be seen as Tridoshic – a blending of the three basic elements or doshas in Ayurveda, Fire (Pita) Air (Vatta), and Earth (Kapha), making this learning experience well suited for all constitutions and types of learners.
Fire – Pitta : Matthew’s contagious enthusiasm ignites the fire of curiosity. Shedding new light on the subject, he takes care to make meaningful connections as he shares the tools, skills and potential for fruitful self-inquiry and self-healing along the path of wakeful living.
Air – Vata : While steeped in traditional forms and language, Matthew’s erudite and contemporary palate includes a diversity of genres. The labs are driven by a centrifugal force that sends ideas spinning in a flurry of tangental relevance, with forays into discussions on postmodern theory, literature, gender, economies, ecologies, religion, psychology and linguistics – that always find their way home, full circle to the point of origin, but with a new vantage point.
Earth – Kapha : The terrain is varied, challenging and interesting – the soil dense, rich, and solid, making possible the conditions for growth and exploration. Matthew’s approach as an educator is receptive and resonant with gentle encouragement and interested care, creating the space for participants to share and ask questions with trust. The content, well grounded and clear, builds a stable foundation for understanding the Ayurvedic system. It is this firm grounding that allows for a sincere negotiation of the poetics of Being, that he so readily shares with us.
Matthew’s Ayurveda Online series is an intricate and playful Rubick’s Cube, a radiant, multifaceted gem, that shines very very bright.
A new AO session starts on Dec 16:
12/16: Seeing/Practicing Asana through the Lens of Ayurveda
12/23: Constitutional Assessment 101: Who’s in Your Class?
12/30: Applying Ayurveda to Restorative Yoga
1/6: Using Ayurveda to Support Yoga Practice
Razielle Aigen was born in Montreal, where she currently lives. She is a writer, visual artist and yoga teacher. She teaches at various studios in the Montreal area and enjoys long walks and travel.