Tona Leiseth

Ayurveda Pancha Karma Massage Nevada City Boise Sun Valley Ketchum

Tona Leiseth - Bozeman, Montana

I come from a great American family of gypsies.  We moved a couple of times a year throughout my childhood. We ate tater tot casserole and drove a ford. My dad was a cowboy and my mom a ballerina. There were 3 kids, all of us different…very different. But we were connected through laughter, tears and even some blood. My family didn’t have money, but we had the ultimate happiness – each other.

I was taught to live in the moment and always help those in need. My siblings and I turned into adult version of our childhood selves. One brother became a mechanic after years of getting in trouble for taking apart household items – like the TV, for instance. The other brother works in Silicon valley… believe it or not that kid started wearing a suit when he was 5 years old.

Me? Well, I grew up trying to mend things. Things like hurt feelings, relationships and scraped knees. I went to work with my aunt who worked at a children’s hospital as often as I could to see the kids with cancer and gunshot wounds. I wanted to help.

As the years progressed I found myself attending college at the University of Hawaii and the University of Idaho. I was a Photography and Visual Arts major. I graduated and went to work.  I found myself at the young age of 22 working as the head photo editor of an outdoor lifestyle magazine. It was great! It took me places and allowed me to meet people I deemed important. It was fun!  It wasn’t fulfilling. I wasn’t helping anyone. In fact, I was working to promote consumerism and that didn’t sit right in my heart of hearts. I quit, and went to work in Nepal.


In Nepal, I found my heart. I found it in the faces of children who needed food and in their smiles as they played soccer in the streets using a box because they didn’t have a ball. I found it in the homes of poor people who invited me in to eat and to drink tea and celebrate life. I found it on the river in the middle of nowhere…and most important, it provided a window where I saw the elderly women of the village caring for those who were sick and in need. It showed me Ayurveda, but I didn’t know the name yet.


I returned to the U.S. broken in a way, enthusiastic and feeling guilty. I wanted a different path for myself. But what could I do? I decided I could go to med school. I would become a nurse or a P.A. and travel the world helping those in need.

I went to work in a surgical center first to see what field was most interesting. I learned about surgery. I learned about the sterilization process and how to scrub in. I paid attention to the politics, the paperwork…all of it. I became disheartened because it wasn’t a good fit for me. It didn’t speak to my heart.  Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful for doctors and their ability to treat acute symptoms. But it wasn’t for me.

I went back to Nepal. This time I took friends. We raised $26K and sponsored a program to provide little girls with funding to receive education. I worked as a river guide. I met an Ayurvedic midwife. I was captivated. How did she know so much about herbs? How could she help all those people with such basic, natural tools and techniques?!

She was amazing.  She showed me that there were alternative ways to provide health care. More sustainable ways.  People can grow the food and herbs that they need to stay healthy instead of becoming dependent on industrialized food or taking little white pills that only treat symptoms.


I got back to the US just before Christmas. Lo and behold, I was given a book on Ayurveda for Christmas. I read it in a matter of days and was on to the next book. I read all that I could get my hands on. Then, I got sick. Not a passing sickness, but a painful chronic condition.

Western medicine told me I had endometriosis.  I was 27 years old and I was in severe pain.  Pain that could make me curl into a ball or black out a couple times a week. Allopathic medicine’s only solution was a kind of surgery that did not have a great success rate, or a hysterectomy. Neither seemed like a good option, so I did nothing. Nothing but live with incredible pain.

Then someone told me about a man who had just returned from India. He was a friend of mine. He wasn’t a licensed practitioner of Ayurveda, but he had been studying it diligently and he agreed to try to help me. With some simple diet changes and herbs I improved a bit.  I was even more enthralled with Ayurveda.

I found The California College of Ayurveda online, I applied and I left for school in a matter of weeks. The first day of school, I knew I had found my calling.  It was all that I had been searching for over the past 3 years. It was the perfect fit. The information not only felt right in my heart. I got it on a deeper level. And from a scientific standpoint, it all made sense. The more I studied, the more it proved itself accurate.


I graduated in 2008, and immediately following graduation I received a scholarship to study Ayurveda in India. I bought my ticket and left for Rasa Ayurveda, in Kerala, India a couple of months later.

I feel that this is where my understanding of Ayurveda and Pancha Karma really took hold.  I was really learning Sanskrit. I was making the medicines from herbs I collected outside in the garden and grounds. I was stoking fires to make medicated oils. I was living and breathing Ayurveda at its purest.

I was also going through Pancha Karma. I was detoxified and rejuvenated in a way I never knew was possible. I’d never felt so healthy, so vibrant…and for the first time in 5 years I was pain free. No more pain.  The endometriosis symptoms were simply gone. Ayurveda was saving me.

I opened my practice in Sun Valley, ID upon my return. Word spread fast, and I was quickly opening a second office in Boise, ID.  This practice has brought me joy and a new way of living and thriving in life. I have since moved on to Bozeman, Montana, where I've purchased a 3-story log pagoda on a mountain top surrounded by 25 acres of wilderness. This will become Omstead, a retreat for Ayurvedic healing, learning, and more. I am a mother to a beautiful little girl, and I am working with one of the strongest, most intelligent women I know – Valerie Goulding.  Together we bring you VitalLiving Ayurveda.  We are on a journey that I have been dreaming of since I was a small child — a journey and an adventure to help people live fully with health and vitality!