I met Pradeesh around 2008, at the age of 53, introduced through my wife, who had begun to attend his class. We continue to be a part of his class now in the year 2017. All these years have been a gradual incremental life-changing journey and our association has turned into a deep-seated friendship and gratitude, in all dimensions of life. It thus gives me great pleasure in writing this piece for him.
I had attended Yoga classes before but Pradeesh was undoubtedly instrumental in shaping the finer elements of Hatha-Yoga for me. Like the practice of Yoga itself, it was meant to be just more than the perfection of postures. Pradeesh, most unobtrusively, opened for me the path towards greater vision of the all-encompassing Self, while all along preparing my body for the demands such a vision would ask of me.
He most unhesitatingly, introduced me to a different master in Kerala, who was a practicing Yoga-Chikitsak, from whom he had learnt and from whom he was acquainting himself in the pro-bono body-healing-recognition techniques. This phase was a turning point in my progress as it gave the huge benefit of Hatha-Yoga in a style which was both ancient, body-type specific, hype-free. It was heavily oriented towards deep, forceful, vibrant and systemic breathing with calm holding of postures. Such was its impact on me that I used to travel from Mumbai to Kerala (Kannur) for several months, every fortnight. He also gave me a glimpse of his early Kalaripayatu life and the crucible where he learnt it. And all this while living in his parental home in Kerala.
This phase was important in another way. He saw in me a growing need for quest and an automatic orientation to an ancient knowledge system opened up in front of me. What followed and continues is a partaking of a tradition of immense joy, fulfilment and integration to all forms which is, Srividya, a benign Sakta Tantric school still widely prevalent in South India and many parts of the world. He then implored me to meet another Guru, an adept and great scholar-teacher, of the Srividyatradition, at Devipuram, Andhra Pradesh. Meeting Amritananda Saraswati, from whom I received Diksha, initiation into the Sakta fold, was again a pivotal point.
Another dimension was to open in my life when Pradeesh opted to see a master of Kriya Yoga, the great grandson of the legendary Lahiri Mahashay, Shibendu Lahiri. We both received initiation into Kriya Yoga from him and key wisdom of the divisiveness of the mind and the edgy path to the destruction of the ‘I’.
The most recent of the forays is one in which we come upon to observe the human body and its marvels when left alone to heal through a combination of fasting, hydration, naturopathy massages, mud packs, yoga, meditative silences, long walks and sun exposure. Here again he opened this way to all those who were interested in resetting their body to natural states of prime health and resurrection, with healthy rapid weight-loss as a bonus.
All put together, several facets of an esoteric search and reverential devotion into the traditional forms opened up, available to any individual open to and thus ordainedto such a journey.
The quintessential part of this recounting is to say that in all these journeys Pradeesh was a Gurubhai, willing to show and share the treasures dear to him. This is the true love of a benefactor and teacher. His openness, gentle disposition, knowledge and learnings makes me unhesitatingly regard him as my true Guru, a position he modestly and subtly refuses to partake off by deflecting my vision to the real search which needs to be done. Pradeesh is a virtual store house of some rare books which he shares and is constantly in search of writings of great masters and their ways.
Pradeesh has, in his years, been a arduous follower of esoteric practices of the Sakta tradition having lived and learnt from masters as also a practitioner of intense breathing and shudhi techniques which is there for the taking for anyone who wishes to be there.
Of his Hatha-Yoga classes, it is to note that, not only are they popular attracting people of various age groups, nationalities and requirements but both highly energising and contemplative at the same time by an amalgamation of invigorating techniques and meditative interludes. He is also into healing methods which he has learnt over the years and an astute reader of the human body and mind.Such is his repertoire and multi-facetedness.
Tasmai Gurave Namaha
Senior Executive Vice-President
Reliance Industries Ltd
I have the pleasure of writing on behalf of Pradeesh Raj. I have known Pradeesh since July 2004. He taught the first yoga classes ever at our local health club, the Old Town Athletic Club, Fort Collins, Colorado, United States of America. I remember seeing Pradeesh working out by himself of doing a yoga class without any students. I decided to try it one day, since I was just diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer. At first there were one to two students, then there were a few more, then within a couple of months Pradeesh had a following – loyal students who would not get up a dawn for anyone else. Soon, we had to move the classes out into the lobby where there was more room. Pradeesh had a way of bringing in and keeping a good variety of students – male, female, all ages, all skill levels. He would teach to their level and interests, making all feel confident and giving them a good workout. When appropriate, he would teach us about his spiritual background. He taught us to smile while holding the elephant pose. He had a way of simply touching us to fine-tune our postures.
Pradeesh became our friend, spiritual leader so-to-speak, and mentor. He was also there to share with us menus from his home town, include us in ceremonies, and be there when we asked him for special favors (help with a pose, help heal from injury, shoulder to cry on, etc.). Such a gentle soul is welcome in our town. We miss him. Therefore, I would wholeheartedly support Pradeesh in whatever venture he pursues. If he is building a center – give him funding to support it; if he is starting classes – tell everyone you know to attend; if he is teaching others to teach – support them and remind them to “listen up.” If he came back tomorrow, the word would spread quickly and they would have to provide him with a larger room in which to work. I would be more than happy to provide more information about Pradeesh’s character, skills and integrity if asked. I can be reached at email@example.com, by phone at 970 495-1150, or by fax at 970 495-0133.
With gratitude and respect,
Ann L. Pendley, Ph.D.
My name is Ashley Hall and I first met Pradeesh when my wife finally got me to go to one of his Yoga classes. She had been telling me about a new teacher of hers and how good he was and that I would really like him. When I finally went to a class I discovered that Pradeesh was unlike any other yoga teacher I had ever gone to. His style was very relaxed and friendly and I immediately felt welcomed and valued. Pradeesh has a way of making even new acquaintances feel like old friends. It was not long until I was going to his classes 6 or more times a week. Every class would be new and different and would challenge me perfectly. Pradeesh allows everyone to work themselves to their own potential and his extreme variety of class types and postures ensured that it would never
become old and boring.
I felt myself improving on my postures and pushing myself further and further. Eventually I was holding poses 4 times longer than I had been and my understanding was deepening. One day we would complete 108 rounds of sun salutations, or perform difficult inverted poses and the next would focus on flexibility and breathing. Some days when I was feeling lazy or tired the class would focus on relaxing poses or massage. I never said anything but it seemed that Pradeesh could sense what the class needed that day. As a wrestling coach and teacher I have incorporated Yoga into my daily routine. We try a new pose everyday at practice and my team has even reminded me of “Yoga of the Day” when I forget. I have even held after school Yoga clubs for my other students. I owe my new found appreciation of Yoga all to Pradeesh and his one-of-a-kind style of teaching that is both friendly and lighthearted as well as challenging and fun.
Sincerely, Ashley Hall
Pradeesh Raj has been my yoga teacher for over two years. I had been doing yoga before being in his class with a variety of teachers. When I came to his class I was very stiff and injured. I believe, looking back, that I was being taught incorrectly for my body type, and incorrectly advised because my injuries seemed to accumulate. When I came to Pradeesh, everything changed. Although the rest of the class was instructed to do things in a certain way, he would always come to me and say although they are doing it this way, here is a better way for you to do it. I noticed he understood my body and the problems I was having by watching me. I began to notice he watched everyone and he would give more advanced students more to do and the students who were hurt, or stiff, or injured, he would give other ways to do the exercises, each to fit the individual’s way of moving. Most of us never said anything about our injuries or stiffness. Pradeesh would notice on his own. Those who do let him know about their problems always get the very best treatment from him, everything from massage of the injury, to advice of what they should do, to things they could at home to stretch and strengthen the area. Pradeesh is very good at giving us stretches that are not necessarily yoga poses, but that help the body to both loosen up and get stronger. As a class, although we groan a lot, we know how good we will feel after we do them, and many of us try to incorporate these stretches into our everyday lives. Although many of us still have a long journey ahead of us, we are amazed at the progress we have made. Along with breathing techniques, the chanting he does, the relaxation, and the work we do together as a class, I have heard many people say that Pradeesh is yoga. I believe what they mean is that Pradeesh is gentle, cheerful, kind, knowledgeable, and very, very helpful. There are a lot of us who have done a lot of healing in his yoga classes.
My name is Christopher Walz and I have the honor of writing this letter of recommendation on behalf of Pradeesh Raj. During the years 2001-2003, I was an active member in yoga classes instructed by Pradeesh. The benefits I experienced as a result of Pradeesh’s teaching affected my mental, spiritual, and physical health.
I have been an elementary school teacher for five years. As a new teacher, I was seeking a healthy release from the stresses related to working as an educator. A close family member invited me to a yoga class taught by Pradeesh at the Old Town Athletic Club in Ft. Collins, Colorado. The comfortable atmosphere, personal enjoyment, and healing benefits of Pradeesh’s classes prompted me to become a member at the health club. A year later, when Pradeesh opened a private studio called The Health Center, I joined as a member in order to continue his classes. I remained a member at The Health Center and continued classes with Pradeesh until he returned to India. Not only did the benefits I received as a student of Pradeesh’s help me deal with the work-related stress I sought to release, they also created a respect for yoga and spirituality that has continued to influence so many aspects of my life.
Pradeesh Raj is a gifted teacher and role model. I found his classes to be relaxing and enjoyable, yet very challenging. Pradeesh’s patient teaching style, combined with his knowledge and experience of yoga, make him a wonderful instructor. During the two years I noticed many changes in myself as a result of these yoga classes. I was better able to deal with the stress I was experiencing, my physical strength increased, my personal outlook and attitude improved, and my overall well being benefited from my experiences with Pradeesh Raj as a teacher.
I feel fortunate to have been able to call Pradeesh Raj my yoga teacher. It is a blessing to have him as a friend and mentor. It is with confidence that I say he will continue to influence those individuals he comes in contact with. I highly recommend Pradeesh Raj, and hope this letter is able to express the regard in which I hold him as a teacher, and the benefit I have experienced from his influence in my life. Thank you and namaste.
Christopher A. Walz
6th grade teacher
McGraw I.B. Elementary School
Pradeesh’s classes have a quality that only few true things in the world have – they operate at different levels simultaneously. For a beginner, it’s a class of beginners, for someone who is looking at a physical workout it’s a workout class with intensity that is calibrated to where you wish to find your limits, for someone who wish to add elements of martial arts in their repertoire there are elements of kalari, tai chi and akido and what not, for some one like me who is looking for yoga as one of the paths towards spiritual growth, Pradeesh’s class gives me the the teachings that are only truly handed down from a teacher to a student directly. The classes have an atmosphere of fun and of enjoying that one is doing, without grim or severe atmosphere that sometimes these ancient teaching tend to be imposed and without losing the rigour that a displine like yoga brings. It requires a very skillful and compassionate teacher to take upon himself to bring so many elements into a class full of different individuals.
Phat Phish India P Limited.