A professional contortionist who advocates mental wellbeing and teaches you that every day in life is a celebration? That’s Yoga with Sanoj for you!
Sanoj’s first tryst with yoga was during a personality development course, the first session of which gave a basic insight to its attendees into the practice. Even though it wasn’t a rigorous training, Sanoj’s interest was piqued. This was a story from over a decade ago and now, he refuses to go a day without yoga and has made it his full-time career. He teaches several clients yoga on a personal basis, switching his time between Kochi and Varkala.
Before donning the hat of a yoga instructor, he ran a business in Penta Menaka. He then did a Teacher Training Course in an ashram called Pathanjali Pranayoga Vidyapeedom in Kottayam District, under the guidance of E M Gopalakrishna Nair. He did the 1-year program over 4 years ago and has been formally sharing his love for the practice of yoga with his international and celebrity clients.
A bulk of his clientele are foreigners who come for a relaxing retreat to his resort, Tamarind Villa, which nestled along the Varkala shores. He can assess his clients’ conditions at the first glance and tries to formulate a holistic personalised yoga session to benefit both their minds and bodies. Improving physical strength and eliminating mental stress through yoga are two sides of the same coin, Sanoj says.
The effects of his classes on most of his clients are long-lasting- even if they participate in just a few sessions over the duration of their stay in the resort, they reach out to him once they head back, citing praises of his work. He has even had many of his clients come back to the resort to re-indulge in the calm that yoga against the picturesque setting of Tamarind Villa brings. Sanoj believes Varkala is truly the best destination in Kerala. He even speaks about a French family who has been coming to the property every year since 2017!
Tamarind Villa has 5 rooms on the property, boasts a restaurant and is in the process of constructing a swimming pool. The resort has a 700 square-foot dedicated yoga space which can easily house up to 20 people.
Sanoj also has a knowledge of Ayurvedic concepts and the diets of his guests are modified on the basis of analysing their body types. At the moment, Tamarind Villa has tie-ups with other hospitals where those interested in Ayurvedic therapies are directed to. However, an Ayurveda Hospital is in the pipeline to go up alongside the resort and Sanoj anticipates that it shall become a reality within a year. The intention through this is to offer visitors a complete package! Tamarind Villa also has a sister concern in Fort Kochi called the Good Karma Inn which boasts 10 rooms and yoga space.
Sanoj’s teaching method is to make sure that his students get the poses right and then it becomes their ‘own property’ lifelong. While most yoga instructors place importance only on practical teaching, Sanoj makes it a point to discuss and teach the theories and philosophies behind the practices.
While the practice of yoga in India turns out to be a huge culture shock to those who are exposed to the westernised version of the practice, Sanoj says that all of his students eventually come to love their experience with him. He describes yoga as a union of body, mind and breath. All that is needed is minimal space and oneself. Sanoj says daily practice allows one to unlock a ‘new space’, one that can only be experienced and not explained.
The main requirements to do yoga include having an empty stomach (diabetic patients are permitted to have a banana before they start), water is allowed and it can be done at any time of the day. It is a good idea to take a shower before one begins yoga, contrary to popular belief. It is important to sweat by doing rigorous warming-up exercises before starting posture practice. Yoga sessions with Sanoj start and end with prayer and meditation. His sessions last anywhere between half an hour to 1 hour.
Sanoj humbly adds that this is what he knows and loves to teach- so reach out to him to start practicing yoga and learning to celebrate life everyday!
This article has been written by Neha Nambiar.