Valerie Goulding

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 after having been 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, I discovered 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 caused by 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 health food store, primarily to assure her access to authentic foods like good cheeses, whole grains, and spices during a time when wonder bread and kool-aid had become America’s dietary staples. 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 homogenized culture of mainstream US. Wholesome food, a natural approach to health, and focus on lifestyle was a day-to-day household norm for me.

My mother used to drive to the farm of an Amish family weekly to buy fresh eggs and raw organic milk.  She made fresh yoghurt regularly. She baked fresh breads, 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 commitment to quality food and cooking, my mother was dedicated.

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 is a ‘coming home’ for me.


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.

I found passion and purpose when I discovered Ayurveda. This ancient science (some say as ancient as 5,000 years – and, likely, older) weaves fundamental principles of health and nutrition with psychology, philosophy and consciousness. It’s a true body/mind/spirit system.

Finding Ayurveda ignited a spark in me that continues to burn. I often reflect upon what my life might be like if I'd never come across it - and the prospect is bleak. I'm grateful that, with the help of Ayurveda, I can make well informed decisions and choices for my wellbeing, and for the wellbeing of my family. At the same time, my understanding of wellness evolves as I continue on a path of  lifelong studentship -- of life, of Ayurveda, and of the Vedic sciences.