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First free your mind - and then free your body

By Mike Hobbs
Mike Hobbs on Jivita Aurveda

The sign reads Jivita Ayurveda.

There’s a new sign on the Rise, swaying in the cold autumnal winds blowing down the hill from the north. It hangs outside the Kitchen Apothecary, banging as customers stumble into the chemists’, sidle into the solicitors’ or tinkle their way through the door into the health food shop itself.

The sign reads Jivita Ayurveda.

What’s that, you ask? (Well, I certainly did, when I first saw it in another context a few months earlier.) Fortunately, I’ve done my research by now so I can tell you. Jivita is a Sanskrit word for “the things which make us healthy” and Ayurveda comes from two words meaning, roughly, “the science of life”. And, as you make your way through the shop and down the stairs to the treatment room, you may start to find out that Ayurveda has come to symbolise a whole system of living, running the spectrum from astrology, breathing techniques and music therapy to detox treatments, dietary advice, herbal remedies, massage and yoga.

Phew. You don’t get all that downstairs. At least not at the first visit, at which the practitioner will tend to concentrate on one or more of the latter aspects – apart from yoga, which may of course come later. You’ll most likely have a consultation. The most usual diagnosis is a head massage, followed by body massage with oils, powders or shirodhara (there’s a shower on site, luckily) – the practitioner will leave the room, leaving you a pair of temporary knickers which appear to be a simple garment but require a maths degree to put on. Eventually, you sit upon a sort of office chair and wait. Slow music starts fromunseen points around the bright yet candlelit studio.

Mike Hobbs on Jivita AurvedaThe crux of the head massage seems to be to find the pressure points and push on them for a sort of “call and release” response. At least that was how I felt. Chattering happily at first, I soon lost the desire to converse – but not in a bad way.

Obviously, the pressure can be as strong or as relaxing as you wish. In my experience, the consultant was asking constantly what my limits were, so that I never felt I was going to be faced with anything uncomfortable. However, if you’ve got some knots in your shoulders, it may be best to take a few deep breaths…

But perhaps we should begin at the beginning.

Don’t know about you but I’m a sucker for those flyers that hurtle through letter boxes and drop on doormats, preferably without too heavy a thud. The wispier, the better. These blandishments gatecrash my writing regimen, one of fiendish monasticism as a rule, and immediately I want to take a taxi somewhere. Anywhere. Surely an airport beckons? Because it must be an act of Providence, right? I’ve even contemplated getting the roof done, or developing the loft into a Manhattan-style penthouse, only tossing such projects aside because it would mean clearing out said loft in the first place.

So when a blaze of red and yellow card floated into the house earlier this year, offering free consultation, I was hooked. Of course, I was intrigued by the nomenclature: Jivita Ayurveda (see above). And I was also fascinated to see it coupled with a Finnish name, Anu (Maria) Paavola.

Now my experience of Finnish women has been coloured by a very beautiful girl who was once engaged to a friend of mine. I recall her once turning to me at a party, glancing back around the room, and saying: “On the whole, I prefer buildings to people.” OK, so she was a little mad on architecture but I looked in her eyes and she was serious. Either that, or the most terrific actress since Liv Ullmann (Swedish, I know, but you get the point).

My first meeting with Anu Maria confirmed she was replete with humane health - it does help that a practitioner of “the knowledge of life” is a glowing advertisement for the efficacy of their chosen philosophical world-view. No problem here: professional but personable is how I’d sum her up.

Before she moved into the premises beneath Bastien’s Kitchen Apothecary, Anu Maria used to rent space under the Yoga Centre at the corner of Wrentham Avenue and Chamberlayne Road opposite the Church on the Rise. The initial steps were portentous: buzzed into the building downstairs, I turned left into a long corridor before knocking on a door that opened out into a light and airy room. I had a feeling of some confidence that I would get what I was looking for.

Or maybe I just possess an over-stimulated imagination. I must confess that my main motive was to find a form of relaxation that would chill the heated brain as well as soothe tired limbs. I discovered it first under the Yoga Centre – but it is now an even shorter distance from my home to the studio under the Kitchen Apothecary. So I reckon I’ll go again.

Anyway, you might well get one of these flyers fluttering through into your hallway soon. My advice? Follow the yellow and red brick road.

Jivita Aurveda is at 63 Chamberlayne Road. Tel: 077 177 060 22.  www.jivita.co.uk

Local resident Mike Hobbs is a writer and freelance journalist. This is the first in an occasional series.

Links:

 www.jivita.co.uk

 http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-United-Kingdom/Jivita-Ayurveda/148590028513912

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