Valerie Goulding

Valerie Goulding - California

Valerie Goulding – California

I discovered Ayurveda in 2003. At the time, I was a new mother married to a Navy Special Forces officer. I was isolated and making a difficult transition into motherhood at 29 after having been a successful independent woman in the corporate professional world. Living in a new place, there were no friends or family nearby to assist or provide relief from full time solo parenting. My then-husband was frequently gone and focused on training and deployments to the war zones of the Middle East. My health was failing due to stress, isolation and burn out. I had no energy – just when I needed it the most to nurture my infant daughter.

I didn’t have a ‘condition’ – no disease could be diagnosed. I didn’t understand what was causing my lack of well-being. Western medicine couldn’t cure me – it could only prescribe medications that masked symptoms and caused side effects that I didn’t want. I was determined to find something that could truly help me heal.

One day, over conversation at a dinner party, a Navy SEAL handed me a book called Body, Mind and Sport by Dr. John Douillard – a Colorado based chiropractor, former professional athlete and Ayurvedic Practitioner.  It changed my life.

Dr. Douillard made Ayurveda easy to understand. I consulted with him as a patient. My health improved. I soon felt better than I ever thought possible. I went from depleted, exhausted, anxious and frustrated to calm, content and full of vitality in three months time. My digestion became balanced, quality of sleep improved, my adrenals rejuvenated and my sparkle returned.

Through Ayurveda, I realized that the health crisis I faced in 2003 was the result of factors that are common to modern people. Like many of the people that come to VitalLiving Ayurveda, I was full of grief, confusion, fear and desperation at my lack of physical, mental and emotional vitality. I had run my “battery” dangerously low.  I had no place to ‘plug in’ and renew myself in healthy ways. Ayurveda changed that.


Growing up in small town mid-west, my European mother owned a natural foods store, primarily to assure her access to specialty foods like good cheeses, whole grains, coffees, spices and the like during a time when wonder bread and kool-aid had become America’s dietary staples.  She was a maverick.  In rural middle America in the early 80′s, before the population at large recognized the perils of pesticides and insecticides, her store stocked organic produce from local farmers.

I knew through her that the world was a very big place. Traveling internationally from an early age, I understood that global cultures are as varied in number and tradition as they are ancient in comparison to the USA. Wholesome food, alternative approaches to health and focus on lifestyle was a day-to-day household norm for me, in stark contrast to standard Mid-Western practices around food and concepts of culture.

My mother used to drive to the farm of an Amish family weekly to buy fresh eggs and raw organic milk.  She made fresh butter, yoghurt, buttermilk and sour cream regularly. She baked fresh breads weekly, cooked daily and nurtured a kitchen garden for over 30 years. From it, she and my father made and canned preserves, sauces and pickled veggies. When it came to a dedication to quality food and cooking, my mother was a fanatic. In the 80’s, before Starbucks and European coffee came to mainstream America, she brought her own equipment to make coffee on the road during long driving trips.  I still remember her using gas station outlets to plug in a hot plate and brew espresso.

You might think that, growing up with these influences, I was pure of mind and body from the cradle on.  Not so. As soon as I could rebel against alfalfa sprouts and vitamins and discovered that corn bread wasn’t ‘cake,’ I did. The older I grew, the less connected I became to my mother’s kitchen.

Years later, I found myself deeply honoring my mother. Ayurvedic principles teach us that unadulterated nature is the source of our wellbeing. Natural medicines, gardening, real fresh local organic produce, maxims like ‘early to bed, early to rise’ that are based on alignment with circadian rhythms – these guidelines were written in my textbooks, and they were echoes of my mother’s wisdom. Embracing Ayurveda has been a ‘coming home’ for me.


In my early 20’s I left the Mid-West to study in Paris. I spent most of my free time by myself walking the city gardens and visiting the cathedrals.  It was in Paris that I became conscious that my interests in life were more inwardly oriented.

In my mid-20’s, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I became involved in zen-based meditation and  continued a martial arts education that began at the age of 7 (my father, a retired Army Colonel and Viet Nam veteran, insisted on martial arts training for me and my brother). Through zen, and subsequent studies in mystic Judaism, physics, world religions and philosophies, I learned that I had a natural love for introspection, growth, nature, truth-seeking and spirituality. By day I worked in the corporate publishing industry, by night I explored the deeper mysteries of life.


I found my life’s passion and purpose when I discovered Ayurveda. This ancient science (some say as ancient as 5,000 years – and possibly more) weaves fundamental principles of health and nutrition with psychology, philosophy and consciousness. It’s a true body/mind/spirit system. I tell clients that this is a ‘something for everyone’ science; it covers the mundane, the practical, the abstract and the spiritual and metaphysical. For me, it speaks to every area of interest that I could possibly explore.

In 2006 I began to study Ayurveda formally.  By 2009 I was practicing professionally.  In March of 2011, I established VitalLiving as a private practice. By late 2013 I began working with one of my dearest friends and fellow Ayurvedic Practitioner, Tona Leiseth, to co-found VitalLiving Ayurveda. Together, we maintain a California practice in Nevada City, and a Montana office in Bozeman. We travel domestically and internationally to facilitate private Ayurvedic retreats and to perform exclusive Pancha Karma and Detoxification and Rejuvenation projects for clientele.