President & Chairman of the Board
Shekhar Annambhotla, born in Tangutur, Andhra Pradesh, India in 1963, is an ayurvedic specialist who was trained in India and has been practicing and teaching ayurveda worldwide since 1988. Ayurveda is not just a system of alternative system of healing, but is actually a comprehensive and ancient science of health. It is Shekhar’s belief that due to the open nature of ayurveda and its timeless principles, it is a boon to those of us living in the modern, stressful world. Shekhar’s mission is to educate and help people live healthier lives with ayurveda.
He began his eight-year course of study in ayurveda at the age of 17, first at Nagarjuna University in Andhra Pradesh, India (1982-88) and then at Gujarat Ayurved University in Gujarat, India (1988-91), where he earned his Doctorate Degree in Ayurveda. He is also a Licensed Integrative Bodywork and Massage Therapist (LMT) and an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E.R.Y.T.-500) with the Yoga Alliance and an instructor of therapeutic Hatha Yoga, having completed training at the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Center in India. Shekhar is also a certified Pranic Healer, a certified Reiki Healer and a certification in Energy Healing.
From 1992 – 1994, Shekhar worked as an Associate Professor at N.K.J. Ayurvedic College (Gulburga University), Bidar, Karnataka State, India. From 1994 – 2001, Shekhar has the opportunity to serve at Maharishi Vedic Schools and Universities in The Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Great Britain, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Trinidad, Guadeloupe, Jamaica (Caribbean Island), Colombia (South America), Canada, and the U.S.A. During his extensive travels, he delivered lectures and offered consultations on Ayurveda for health professionals and for the general public. He gave several newspaper interviews and radio talks on Ayurveda and was also interviewed on BBC’s Breakfast Television.
Since 2002, Shekhar has been the Founding Director of Ojas LLC, Ayurveda Wellness Center, in Pennsylvania, USA. He is the Founder, President and Chairman of the Board of Association of Ayurvedic Professionals of North America (AAPNA) (www.aapna.org). He is Founding Director of Global Ayurveda Conferences, LLC, USA. Shekhar served on the Board of Directors for National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) from 2005-2010. He has taught ayurveda courses in many prestigious universities in the United States including University of Pennsylvania (UPENN), University of Medicine & Dentistry in NJ (UMDNJ), Hershey Medical School, Jefferson Medical School, University of Penn Nursing School, and others. He was awarded the “Tathagat International Excellence Award 2011” in Dubai, received the award “Ayurveda Khandantara Sthapanacharya” Award for promoting ayurveda around the globe, “Pragathi” Award for Promoting Ayurveda Globally and MTC Global Award 2015 “Outstanding Corporate Award: Healthcare and Community Service”. He is on the editorial board for Light on Ayurveda Journal, MA, USA
His passion and love for ayurveda fuels his vision for the development and growth of ayurveda, including creating and implementing high quality ayurvedic education and training programs in the west. It is AAPNA’s mission to bring ayurveda to the forefront of healing arts. With your support and encouragement, ayurveda will be accepted and integrated as a key complementary science to modern health care.
What inspired you to start Association of Ayurvedic Professionals of North America (AAPNA)?
Ayurveda itself was the inspiration behind AAPNA. After studying for 8 years to earn my Doctorate in Ayurveda in India, I wanted to take Ayurveda to the West. It was my firm belief that Ayurveda was the panacea for not only the sufferings of the body, but the mind and the soul. My dream has been to bring Ayurveda to the forefront of mainstream healthcare in the west, and this vision gave me the courage, motivation and perseverance to embark on this journey.
What are the challenges for the growth of Ayurveda and AAPNA in North America?
Because of a lack of proper licensing authority for Ayurvedic practice in North America, people are reluctant to approach an Ayurvedic professional since the therapies are not covered under medical insurance. This is one of the biggest hurdles for Ayurveda in the west. Though people are aware that Ayurveda is a holistic science that addresses the diseases from its roots without side effects, the common man is not ready to bear the extra financial burden of the therapy as it’s not covered by medical insurance. Apart from that, Ayurvedic doctor is still an unknown term in the west because there is no authority for credentialing Ayurvedic doctors in the west. We want to change this in the near future.
What were the challenges you faced in creating a community of Ayurvedic professionals in North America?
First, it was a daunting task identifying genuine Ayurvedic professionals among so many of them available in the west today. There are many Ayurvedic professionals in the West who have just read a book or completed a seminar or short course and pose themselves to be genuine Ayurvedic healers. Therefore, our main challenge was to find Ayurvedic professionals who were properly trained in the science of Ayurveda. We provided a platform for Ayurvedic professionals to be registered under AAPNA so that the practice would gain credibility. We also began offering free academic teleconference calls each month and sponsored awards for excellence in Ayurveda and Vedic Sciences to recognize outstanding Ayurvedic professionals and their accomplishments. In addition, we have conducted hundreds of seminars, workshops, conferences and lectures on Ayurveda to create awareness and increase our membership.