Ayurveda School Faculty

  • Shala Worsley, LMBT, E-RYT 500

    Administrative Director

    Shala opened the Asheville School of Massage & Yoga in 2005. She splits her time between directing and teaching at the massage school and leading weekly yoga classes and training yoga instructors at her other “home,” the Asheville Yoga Center. She studied Ayurveda with the well-renowned Drs. Suhas and Manisha Kshirsagar. Shala holds a BA with Honors in Anthropology from Wesleyan University and is passionate about sharing the ancient Indian healing modality of Ayurveda with her students.

  • Vishnu Dass, LMBT, AD

    Dean of Education and Lead Instructor

    Vishnu Dass started studying Ayurveda in 1992 under the guidance of Dr. Vasant Lad, world renowned Ayurvedic physician and teacher, and graduated from the Advanced Studies and Clinical Program at the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, NM. He worked for the Panchakarma Department of the Institute while finishing his studies, and also graduated from the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics. He is a former Board Member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and is the owner of Blue Lotus Ayurveda in Asheville, NC.

  • Ryan Strong


    Ryan Strong is an Ayurveda practitioner, and Director & Owner of Sun Canyon Ayurveda in Sacramento CA. Ryan has studied Ayurveda extensively under Dr. Marc Halpern, & with pulse master Dr. Mary Jo Cravatta. He is an Ayurvedic Clinical Specialist graduate from the California College of Ayurveda. Ryan taught Ayurvedic diagnostics level 1 & level 2 for CCA, and was an on-site and off-site internship supervisors for CCA for three years. Ryan teaches Kriya Yoga, and is a minister for the Center for Spiritual Awareness, ordained by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda.

  • Indu Arora, MD (AM), ND, BMHS, IYT


    Indu Arora is an Ayurveda-Yoga Therapist and Master Teacher. She is the author of “Yoga-Ancient Heritage Tomorrows Vision” and “Mudra-The Sacred Secret.” Recipient of the “Ayurveda Yoga Gem,” “Ray of Hope,” “Jewel of India,” “Jewel of Yoga,” and “Sage” awards for her contribution to Yoga and Ayurveda, Indu’s philosophy is “Nothing has the greatest power to heal, but Self”.

  • Marek Sawicki, C-AP, C-AYT, C-IAYT, LMBT, E-RYT 500


    Marek is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner by the Ayurvedic Institute under Dr. Vasant Lad, and has completed a 2 year clinical internship in panchakarma and internal medicine under Dr. Alekananda Devi. He spent 9 years as the Director and Lead Instructor of the 2300 hr. Associate Degree of Therapeutic Massage Program at AB-TECH Community College from 2009-2017. Over two decades of teaching contributes to his effective, comprehensive, passionate presentations inspiring students to love and value their education and choice of serving through the art of healthcare. Marek is co-Director of Living Alchemy Ayurveda with his wife Uma in Asheville, NC.

  • Amy Uma Thompson, CAyu, LMBT


    Uma is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist, Clinical Western Herbalist, Yoga Instructor, and Certified Ayurvedic Postpartum Doula, studying and practicing Ayurvedic medicine since 1999. She has studied at three leading schools of Ayurveda in the US, including The Ayurvedic Institute with Dr. Vasant Lad. Uma is an integrative, holistic practitioner specializing in women’s health, menstrual health, fertility, pregnancy and postpartum. She also has expertise in nutrition, digestive issues, cleansing and renewal protocols. In her bodywork practice, Uma has treated acute and chronic pain conditions, as well as traumatic injuries with a specialty in Neuromuscular Massage, and Crainosacral Therapy. She also offers Thai Massage and Yoga Therapy.

  • Jennifer Rioux, PhD, AD, AYT, C-IAYT


    Jennifer Rioux holds a PhD in medical and cultural Anthropology. She teaches and conducts research on Ayurveda, Yoga and Integrative Medicine. Dr. Rioux provides patient care and practitioner mentorship in-person and via Skype.  She has practiced Ayurveda and yoga therapy since 2000.  Dr. Rioux has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellowship and worked with Dr. Weil’s Center for Integrative medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School. She is certified in Ayurveda and yoga therapy at the highest levels and serves on the Board of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and the Advisory Board of the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

  • Jennifer Byrne, MPH, C-AP, LMT


    Jennifer is a nutritionist, herbalist and Ayurvedic practitioner, and is the Director & Owner of Earthen Apothecary + Jen Byrne Ayurveda in Charleston, SC. Jennifer holds a Master’s Degree in public health from Emory University; certificates in Plant-based nutrition (Cornell University) and western herbalism (Gaiananda Herbal Apprenticeship under herbalist Patricia Harpell); and is a licensed massage therapist. Jennifer completed her Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor training at Asheville School of Massage & Yoga and her Ayurvedic Practitioner training with Kerala Ayurveda Academy in Milpitas, CA. She is certified by NAMA at the Ayurvedic Practitioner level. She is also a yogini and student of Swami Chandresekharanand Saraswati (1930-2016) and Bri. Silvia Viryananda Eberl, the former and current lineage holders of a Saraswati/Shankaracharya lineage of yoga, Vedanta and traditional Kundalini science.

  • Dianne Slick


    Dianne Slick is a professionally trained health supportive chef, Ayurveda Wellness Counselor, educator and expert in Raw and Living Foods nutrition. Dianne received her Ayurveda Wellness Counselor education at the Asheville School of Massage & Yoga. She applies her training, education and personal experience in the healing properties of food to help and support people on their journey to health and wellness.

  • Mitzi Aoyagi, LMBT

    Instructor and Program Coordinator

    Mitzi received her Ayurveda Wellness Counselor training at the Asheville School of Massage & Yoga. She also attended ASMY for her massage therapy certification and now maintains a massage practice in downtown Asheville. Mitzi works as a Panchakarma therapist with Blue Lotus Ayurveda providing Ayurvedic body treatments and marma point therapies. As program coordinator, she works closely with students, staff, and teachers to ensure the successful implementation of the Ayurveda Wellness Counselor program.

  • Susanne Wilson, MS

    Dean of Students and Registrar

    Sue received her BS in Business and MS in HR, Training & Development from National Louis University. Sue is a nationally certified massage therapist and enjoys her role assisting students at the Asheville School of Massage & Yoga.