But Gwynnie and thousands live for them...
Alternative health therapy is big business. Jini Reddy tests the latest treatments
Sunday 06 February 2005
10am: ashtanga yoga
Arrive at the Life Centre in Notting Hill. Everyone else alarmingly well- to-do. A tall, intimidating instructor, Kahti Goupil, talks me through the downward dog, the tree pose, various leg stretches and even a wobbly shoulderstand. My confidence grows. By the end of the class I feel lighter and taller, and the tension at the back of my neck and shoulders has disappeared.
12pm: ayurvedic consultation and lunch
We're all a combination of energetic forces or doshas and restoring balance is key to good health, according to Gopi Warrior, chairman of the Ayurvedic Company of Great Britain. Therapies include meditation, massage, diets and herbal medicine. Told I'm mainly "vatta-kapha type" - eager, healthy but prone to stress. Specially tailored lunch, including curried potatoes with mustard seeds, is delicious. Advised to visualise lamp in the middle of my forehead where my Third Eye is. Who am I to argue?
Not in the mood for exercise. Stare at the pulley, weights and wires in Elaine Puren's studio in Bermondsey, and feel I am to be hung, drawn and quartered. But gyrotonics will apparently release tension, strengthen my abdomen and spine, and increase flexibility. I sit on the wooden bench, and turn a wheel with my arm while making a wave movement with my body. Next, arm twists while pulling weights. I don't feel any of the exhilaration that normally comes with exercise. When we're done, I'm relieved.
Arrive at health clinic Body Matters feeling shattered. Amanda Cox, acupuncturist and practitioner of oriental medicine, inspects my tongue and pulse - which she says is "weak". Apparently cupping helps improve circulation, relax tight muscles, and ease cold and flu symptoms. Amanda briefly inserts a flame into each of the cups - like little glass jam jars - then places them on my skin. Feel as though I have an affectionate squid on my back. Odd but not painful. Surprisingly energised - for a while, then have a slump. I'm shattered.
The big four new therapies
Ashtanga yoga: Orginally recorded in an ancient manuscript called Yoga Korunta. It involves moving from pose to pose to create a "purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs".
Gyrotonics: Developed in the 1980s by Romanian dancer Juliu Horvath. It combines movements from yoga, ballet, tai chi, dance and gymnastics.
Ayurveda: An ancient Indian science dating back 5,000 years. It combines diet, remedies and gentle exercise. Treatments alter according to a person's make-up.
Cupping: An ancient technique from China and the Arab world. Glass jars are briefly warmed with a flame and placed on to the skin. The suction created by the cups is said to encourage improved circulation.
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