Alumni Highlight: Body-Positive Yoga

Luvena Rangel graduated from ACHS with a diploma in Holistic Health Practice. At the time, the college was called the Australasian College of Health Sciences. “Australasian” was switched out for “American” in 2009 to celebrate the 20th anniversary based in the United States.

From medical degree to holistic health

“I found ACHS just when I was really looking,” Luvena says. Four or five years into her medical degree, Luvena felt like something was missing and decided not to complete her degree. “I came from a very traditional Indian family. I felt guilty that I haven’t done my studies and my parents have put in so much of an effort to send me to University,” she says.

Even though she didn’t finish her medical degree, Luvena was still interested in medicine and felt that there must be a program that better aligned with her desire to learn about the human body in a more holistic way. “Somehow, ACHS just came up for me,” she says. “It just checks all the boxes. It’s got everything that I like. They see the human body the way I see it. With all the rigor but not as a clinical object.”

During her studies at ACHS, Luvena says that her first few courses came in the mail as binders before the college transitioned to offering courses online.

“There is a big part of my gratitude to ACHS for who I am today,” Luvena says. “A lot of me had suffered. My identity, my ego, my pride had suffered when I returned my scholarship and came back home from med school. My studies at ACHS gave me that identity back. It empowered me.”

Pictured The original mousepad that came with Luvenas course materials The empty slow allows you to insert a quote of your choice

Journey at ACHS

Luvena says that she always felt close to ACHS. “Even if I haven’t come and visited Portland to meet the people in person, it’s a very integral part of who I am,” she says. She says that many of the things that she learned while studying Holistic Health Practice tie in with her current work as a Yoga Teacher Trainer.

Luvena also says that she was able to bring her own knowledge of Ayurveda to complement her studies at ACHS: “When I studied at ACHS, I was given an opportunity to bring that ancestral wisdom that I had to the studies that I was doing when it came to herbal medicine. My great-grandmother was a medicine woman, my grandmother was one who then turned into a pharmacist, but she knew all of the indigenous medicine. My mother is an accountant, but she knew. And I learned things from my grandmother as well.” 

Pictured Luvenas binders containing course materials from her studies at ACHS before the college transitioned to offering courses online

The Curvy Yogi

Luvena is a body-positive Yoga Teacher Trainer and the founder of The Curvy Yogi, which models inclusive and accessible yoga for all. “I think I first started practicing yoga on the mat as an asana practice when I was ten,” she says. “It was only about 19 years ago when I actively started practicing and teaching yoga, and yoga in its completeness, not just in the physical form.”

The Curvy Yogi originally started out as an idea for a clothing brand because Luvena noted the lack of options for exercise clothing for larger-bodied people. “My brand name then slowly evolved from fashion to being an inclusive and body-positive, accessible system of practice for both health and wellness,” she says. “It’s not only for people who are larger-bodied, it’s for people who are size zero and might be having eating disorders or physical limitations and even including the entire gender spectrum.”

As a yoga instructor, Luvena teaches in a very holistic way. “I integrate everything. My students are also taught to appreciate the synergy between all different systems of health and wellness, and healing. They don’t look at things as isolated, but they look at all of it in a very holistic way. And I think ACHS really established that for me,” she says.

In addition to teaching yoga, Luvena is also a frequent panelist at global yoga conferences and is a guest faculty member at the Hindu University of America.


Tips for Yoga Beginners

If you are interested in learning more about yoga, Luvena says that the first and most important step is to find a good teacher. “Since many of the people reading this interview are outside of India, I think the importance of a good teacher who knows yoga, not just how to contort the body on the mat, but how to teach their students that this is a spiritual practice,” she says. “To guide them through the practices that give them grounding and help them recognize the limitations of the body, but at the same time not make it all about the body, but about the mind and the spirit.”

When searching for a yoga teacher, you should do some research to find out about their background and training. Luvena says that it can be physically and spiritually damaging to have a teacher that isn’t well trained. She says that a good teacher should respect you, be respectable, and be knowledgeable about what they are teaching.

If you want to hear more from Luvena, you can find her website here and follow The Curvy Yogi on Instagram here.

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By Gillian Turner, Social Media & PR Specialist

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the social media & PR specialist for the American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

About American College of Healthcare Sciences

American College founded in 1978, is a fully online accredited institute of higher education specializing in holistic health. Based in Portland, OR; our goal is to make research-driven and science-based holistic health education taught by industry-leading experts accessible to anyone anywhere while still giving students a hands-on experiential learning experience like a traditional college and a strong sense of community, school pride and student bond.

This commitment to our students and graduates reflects in our current survey results that reflect 98% of our students would recommend ACHS to a friend or family member.

We believe education is the most powerful tool for changing an individual and the world around us.

When a person enrolls as ACHS, it is vitally important that they graduate with tools they need to forge their own holistic and sustainable missions, build up their communities confidently and changing the face of healthcare with knowledge.