Lately I have been speaking and spending time with Ratheesh at the front desk and around the resort. Ratheesh is an ayurvedic therapist and practitioner and also the resident yoga teacher at Cardamom County. It was actually Ratheesh’s grandmother, who he respectfully refers to as Thankamma, who taught him yoga techniques from a young age. We also discussed what inspired Ratheesh to enter the ayurvedic trade and his response was his family on his mom’s side had always been interested in this 5000-year-old medicinal trade. Dr. Leela Kumary, Ratheesh’s aunt, who is an ayurvedic doctor first inspired him to pursue a career in ayurveda from as early an age as ten.
Having grown up in the backwaters of Allepey, Ratheesh talked about bathing in the waters of the half-salty, half-freshwater due to the opening and closing of the floodgates in-between the dry and rainy seasons. He also told me about his one and a half year training in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu in Ayura and the following one year practical residency at the Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Hospital in Kaladi, Ernakulam, near Cochi. This was followed by a transfer to Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Hospital branch in Mumbai, Maharashtra for one year where he had a great time sightseeing and living in the big city, especially close to Bollywood. However, in the end Ratheesh missed Kerala, especially citing the south Indian cuisine he grew up with, and returned to practice ayurveda and teach yoga within the hospitality industry.
When discussing yoga technique, Ratheesh explained that his style was Ashtonga Yoga, which is among the more modern as well as simple, straightforward, and practical methods of yoga. First, breathing is emphasized because only with proper technique using only the nose, lungs, and diaphragm can the next two important features be learned. The reason why Ratheesh explained that breathing was so important is because throughout the day people breathe inconsistently. At different times of day people breath faster and more slowly due to various moments of stress and also lethargy. Thus with proper breathing, the bloodstream has more oxygen which purifies the body internally. The second aspect is flexibility, which is developed, in a variety of standing and seated poses in conjunction with correct breathing. Once these two aspects have been achieved, the third and final aspect of meditation and concentration is focused on.
Furthermore, Ratheesh explained the eight main parts of Ashtonga Yoga, which are Yama, Niyana, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Firstly, Yama involves conquering fear and acting and thinking the right way. Secondly, Niyana involves achieving a clear mind through self-purification and study. Thirdly Asana consists of performing the different yoga positions and postures. Fourthly, Pranayama is using proper breathing techniques to achieve breath control. Fifthly, Pratyahara is sense control, which requires sufficient focus and dedication to follow through. Sixthly, Dharana is full concentration and knowledge of the body and yoga. Seventh, Dhyana is being immersed in meditation. The eighth and last is Samadhi, which is achieving a spiritual state of consciousness involving Shavasana or lying down in a straight position.
Ratheesh says the most wonderful part of his time here at Cardamom County is simply the satisfaction he receives at the end of an ayurvedic treatment session or a yoga class when from the satisfaction of the guests he teaches and heals. Having spent four years here, he also described the wonderful atmosphere of Cardamom County, saying that the staff is “like a family”. This was exemplified one morning couple of days ago when we had a full house and Ratheesh took up a post helping the bellboys take down the luggage of guests for checkout. He also kindly and lovingly referred to everyone as akin to brothers and sisters even if they did not work directly side by side such as within the ayurvedic department. Ratheesh’s future ambitions are no more than watching his soon to be born son or daughter grow up and continue within hospitality to heal and treat others and help them achieve peace of mind in their daily lives.