Coaching a Healthy Lifestyle

Positioning Ayurveda in a Late Modern Context


  • Göran Viktor Ståhle Södertörn University


Ayurveda, holistic medicine, alternative, medicine, coaching, spirituality health care, positioning


This article is a case study of practitioners of Ayurvedic health counselling in Stockholm, Sweden. The focus is on the practitioners’ ways of presenting their practice. It is found that the practice is construed as a form of coaching, where life style advice is primary in relation to different remedies and medicaments. The majority of the clients suffer from vague, stress-related complaints, problems that “fall through” the conventional health care system. The primary cause of these problems are attributed to imbalances that are created by the fast pace in the Western society of today. Discourse analysis is used to interpret how this implies a positioning of the practitioners as a part of a holistic health milieu.


Banerjee, Madhulika. 2008 Ayurveda in Modern India: Standardization and Pharmaceuticalization. In Modern and Global Ayurveda, edited by Dagmar Wujastyk and Frederick M. Smith, 201–214. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Carrette, Jeremy and Richard King. 2005 Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion. London: Routledge.

Chopra Center. 2009 Home page of the Chopra Center [online]. Available from http://www.cho- [Accessed 7 April 2010].

Eisenberg, D.M., R.B. Davies, S.L. Ettner, S. Appel, S. Wilkey, M. Van Rompay, and R.C. Kessler. 1998 Trends in Alternative Medicine use in the United States, 1990–1997. Journal of the American Medical Association 280: 1569–1575.

Goffman, Erving. 1990 The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin.

Hanssen, B.S. and L. Hanssen, V. Grimsgaard, T. Launso, T. Fonnebo, T. Falken- berg, and N.K. Rasmussen. 2005 Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the Scandinavian Countries. Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care 23(1): 57–62. doi:10.1080/02813430510018419

Hedges, Ellie and James Beckford. 2000 Holism, Healing and the New Age. In Beyond New Age, edited by Steven Sutcliffe and Marion Bowman, 169–187. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Hanegraaff, Wouter. 1998 New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Harré, Rom and Fathali Moghaddam. 2003 The Self and Others: Positioning individuals and Groups in Personal, Political and Cultural Contexts. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Heelas, Paul. 2006 The Infirmity Debate: On the Viability of the New Age Spiritualities of Life. Journal of Contemporary Religion 21: 223–240. doi:10.1080/13537900600656066

Spiritualities of Life: New Age Romanticism and Consumptive Capitalism. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Heelas, Paul and Linda Woodhead. 2005 The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Hornborg, Anne-Christine. 2010 Designing Rites to Re-enchant Secularized Society: New Varieties of Spiritualized Therapy in Contemporary Sweden. Journal of Religion and Health, Online 25 May 2010.

Humes, Cynthia-Ann. 2008 Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Perfect Health through Enlightened Marketing in America. In Modern and Global Ayurveda, edited by Dagmar Wujastyk and Frederick M. Smith, 309–332. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Jeannotat, Francoise. 2008 Maharishi Ayur-Ved: A Controversial Model of Global Ayurveda. In Mod-ern and Global Ayurveda, edited by Dagmar Wujastyk and Frederick M. Smith, 285–308. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Kakar, Sudhir. 1991 Shamans, Mystics and Doctors: A Psychological Inquiry into India and Its Healing Traditions. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

King, Richard. 1999 Orientalism and Religion: Post-Colonial Theory, India and the Mystic East. New York: Routledge.

Kumar, S. 2000 India’s Government Promotes Traditional Healing Practices. The Lancet 355: 1252. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)74695-X

Lau, Kimberly. 2000 New Age Capitalism: Making Money East of Eden. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Leslie, Charles. 1992 Interpretations of Illness: Syncretism in Modern Ayurveda. In Paths To Asian Medical Knowledge, edited by Charles Leslie and Allan Young, 177–208. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Löwendahl, Lena. 2002 Med kroppen som instrument: En studie av New Age med fokus på hälsa, kroppslighet och genus. [Your Body as an Instrument. A Study of New Age with a Focus on Health, Body and Gender]. Stockholm: Almquist Wiksell.

Macpherson, Judith. 2008 Women and Reiki: Holistic/Energetic/Holistic Healing in Practice. London: Equinox.

Nichter, Mark. 1991 Negotiation of the Illness Experience: Ayurvedic Therapy and the Psychosocial Dimension of Illness. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 5: 5–24. doi:10.1007/BF00049156

Obeyesekere, Gananath. 1977 The Theory and Practice of Psychological Medicine in the Ayurvedic Tradition. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 1: 155–81. doi:10.1007/ BF00114848

Rose, Nikolas. 1999 Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self. London: Free Associa- tion Books.

Saks, Mike. 2008 Plural Medicine and East-West Dialogue. In Modern and Global Ayurveda, edited by Dagmar Wujastyk and Frederick M. Smith, 29–42. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Smith, Frederick M. and Dagmar Wujastyk. 2008 Introduction. In Modern and Global Ayurveda, Dagmar Wujastyk and Frederick M. Smith (eds.), 1-28. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Trawick, Margaret. 1992 Death and Nurturance in Indian Systems of Healing. In Paths to Asian Medical Knowledge, edited by Charles Leslie and Allan Young, 129–159. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Yin, Robert K. 2003 Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Zysk, Kenneth G. 2001 New Age Ayurveda, or What Happens to Indian Medicine When It Comes to America. Traditional South Asian Medicine 6: 10–26.





International Journal for the Study of New Religions