Rostislav Nyč: A therapist must be cool
How did you actually get to the Augustinian House Hotel?
One could say that it happened by a lucky chance, but I‘m contend that chances don‘t apply to my life. Before I took the job at the Augustian, I used to work in Prague and I felt I’d be better off in a smaller town or a village. At that time, I received an offer from Luhačovice, and although I’d never been here before, I started to like it here. It’s been almost two years.
What particularly made a good impression on you in Luhačovice?
Firstly, it was the genius loci of the Augustinian house, which is a beautiful historic building with tradition and a nice family hotel with a great atmosphere at the same time. And secondly, it was Luhačovice itself – a spa town hidden in a green countryside with a calm atmosphere. Everything is much slower and more natural here than in Prague. I felt that my life path leads right this way.
Had the Augistinian House wellness concept been ready the at moment of your start, or it was created by yourself?
When I started at the hotel, the wellness center had already been working and offering quality services. But there was no talk about a complex concept, which we started to form so that it implemented the principle of a wellness hotel. Today, we are trying to connect our wellness seasonal menu with the restaurant menu and hotel interior, so that everything is in harmony and forms a pleasant whole.
I can imagine a seasounal restaurant menu, but what is it like with wellness?
Here we use the principles of Eastern medicine. What happens in the course year in nature, takes place also in our body. In spring, the body naturally wakes up and cleans itself, opens in summer sun and our stays outside, in autumn it is trying to hedge against the coming winter and in frosty months it calms down and withdraws itself. This is followed even in our wellness concept – in addition to regular menu, in the spring, we focus on detoxification and cleansing of the body and spirit. In the summer we use the terrace and garden so that we can use solar heat and natural light while performing our procedures. In the fall we bring treatments to enhance immunity against influenza epidemics, and in the winter we enjoy the sauna and soaking rituals.
But we can also have a sauna in summer, right?
Of course, we can take a sauna all year long. In summer, however, the body does not need so much heat, as it gains it from the sun. In summer, we cool the body with vegetable salads, cold drinks or bathing, which is much more natural than a hot sauna in this time. This was known to our ancestors, but it seems that this old knowledge have been lost from the today’s society, and we have to re-learn it.
So what is your role at the Augustinian House Wellness Centre?
Along with the therapeutic team, I work as client guide throughout our wellness centre. In the Czech Republic, there still are persisting stereotypes in thinking about wellness – massage, sauna and swimming pool. Wellness however, works not only with the body, but also with psyche. A good therapist should therefore be a guide that will show you the way how to take care of the body and soul all at once. It’s up to everybody, whether they will follow this or not.
Does the concept of wellness come mainly from Eastern traditions and principles, or there are some other influences?
There are numerous approaches to wellness. Just as you have a restaurant serving Czech, Mediterranean, Thai, and other cuisines, you can also choose the direction in which you will lead a wellness centre. In Europe, there’s a great tradition of massages, which come from the times of ancient Greece and Rome, gladiatorial combats and body culture. A comprehensive approach that combines the care of body and mind has faded out, though. People in the East have not forget, so based on European traditions we use some of the Eastern ideas today. While the Western medicine has a number of diseases researched thoroughly up to the every single cell, the Eastern medicine works with psychosomatics, which gives an answer to some questions related to human health.
Eastern medicine and life principles are often studied in India, China and other Asian countries.
Now, this is also my case. When I studied economics in Brno, I found that it was not my cup of tea. I packed my backpack and set off to explore Asia, South America, New Zealand… I needed to be in motion to get to know as much places as possible. Thanks to this I visited India, Nepal, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and Thailand. Here I took to the traditional Thai massage, which was the first kind of massage that I’ve learned. It inspired me, because it’s not just a procedure, but it’s more like yoga for two, when a therapist passes his energy to a patient, and at the same time it is mutually exchanged. For this to work, the therapist must be in a pleasant mood. That’s what I‘ve learned from my beginnings.
However, is it possible to use such an approach in our busy world?
Well, it depends. In Nepal I’ve seen Sherpas who walked in the snow almost barefoot, earning barely enough to be able to have dal bhat for dinner (a Nepali meal), carying one-hundred-pound baskets and packs, but their eyes were shining. From a distance, they were laughing, waving at you, and those, who spoke English, claimed about their country that its name is an abbreviation that stands for Never Ending Peace And Love. If you behaved like this in the Prague Underground, everyone would think you’re crazy. We are used to solve only external problems, those outside us, outside our soul. But if you want to realize the connections that concerns us, we must also look inside ourselves.
This is perhaps easier said than done, isn’t it?
A great tool for finding a way to ourselves is our breath.
The magic in it is that we use it both consciously and subconsciously. We can take a deep breath and hold it, but otherwise our breathing works automatically. It’s a great link into subconsciousness, which always accompanies us. When we are born, we must first take a breath and absorb life energy. Since this time, it’s breath in – breath out, breathe in – breath out for a lifetime. Breath is the equivalent of the solar cycle, which connects us with the world around us. So if you want to change your life, start to breathe consciously.
Do you follow these principles at work?
My work is beautiful, but challenging. We are here for guests seven days a week, on weekends, holidays. It is sometimes exhausting, but it fulfills me and enriches me. To do it well, I’ve got to be cool, develop my skills and do my job with all my heart and soul, as well as all the staff at the Augustinian house. After all, in summer when I practice yoga with guests in the garden, I do not take it as a job but as a therapy both for myself and clients, because we can pass each other something.
What is your work day like?
The great thing is that it looks different every time. Part of the day I devote myself to clients and their procedures, another part I deal with our marketing strategy – where we are going to develop ourselves in terms of services. I also deal with presentation of the wellness programme of our hotel and spend a lot of time working with a team of female therapists that make up the soul of our wellness centre.
And after work?
After work I try to spend some time with my family, preferably somewhere in the fresh air. At work I spend all day with people. When I get home, I need to relax a little. I like to dig in the ground at the cottage, plant and pick herbs, mix teas, ointments or oils. Again, this is connected to my work, because some herbal products are also used in wellness. I mean for example relaxing and cleansing teas, ointments or perhaps the St. John’s wort oil.
Right now in spring I’m working with nettle, which is by far the most powerful medicinal plant around. All of us see it as a kind of weed that we would like to get rid of at the garden, but it is much more powerful than all the pills from advertisements. That’s also what we want to show at the Augustinian house – it is not necessary to import herbs from China – we can very well make do with plants that grow in our immediate proximity. The power of herbs is all around us, you just have to look carefully and listen.